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I love the martial arts. Next to my Father in Heaven I credit my study of Taekwondo to what level of confidence and physical skill I have. The arts were there at an early age to facilitate normalcy of a medical condition that could've cost me my life. Though I am unable to actively pursue the arts as I once did I do honor and sustain it's precepts in my life. I am a patriot. I am loyal to the flag of the United States of America and the Constitution upon which this nation is built. Though my service in the United States Army was brief it did help me maintain a humility and awe for what it takes to defend the interests of this nation. May the flag so wave to the satisfaction of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and all the great men and women who have served honorable capacities for this nation. Especially those whose names are lesser or not known. I am honest. I've learned hard that honesty is the truest and best policy which to base your life. Though difficult and may put you in a pickle honesty will set you free. With honesty you are worthy of the freedom and liberty afforded you by your nation and God. With honesty you qualify yourself of the love of your friends and family. I love astronomy and the study of celestial events. I love history and the volumes it teaches us about the future. I love computers, internet design and it's proof of the glory of God - intelligence. I guess to break it all down into a nutshell I am a child of God.
My wife and I suffered the loss of our first born child. I was not strong in the gospel at that point. Actually I was quite inactive and indifferent toward any faith. My wife was not a member of the Church at that time. It was a trying time filled with regret and sorrow. The child was stillborn. Turmoil ensued surrounding the salvation of that child. Some strongly encouraged speed to baptize the child lest it should be damned. Others advocated that the child had no spirit and therefore not a true child of ours. All the vices of the tongue were laced with the doctrine of no agency of personal choice and no accountability. I knew there was much more to the mercy of God - if there was a God at all. I searched various doctrines and all seemed dark and floundered on sandy foundations. I finally turned to the inspired words of the ancient prophets as well as the modern prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the subject of infant death. All doctrine was sound and had a glowing light about it. All was positive and uplifting. The dark experience of infant death now had reason and a glorious purpose. I know now that if my wife and I are worthy we shall have the opportunity to raise that child when he and all others are raised from that other world to inherit perfected bodies of their own. He shall grow, learn and develop with a clarity and brightness of knowledge uninhibited by the dark influences of the current worldly conditions. As we raise him he, in turn, will teach us and we shall honor and glorify our God for the eternal nature of man. That is why I am Mormon. It's all about personal agency to choose, learning to be teachable and tolerant and it's about the endless potential of the righteous son or daughter of our Father in Heaven.
Hope is that process of action and thought for which the end is that which you desire but yet has not manifested yet. Without hope there would be no action and no happiness in life. I have hope. I have a deep abiding hope that the beacon of liberty will reign within the hearts of all throughout the world. I have a hope that we will all recognize it as an inspired action seeded in our hearts by God. I have a hope that we will remember how we united after the attack on the World Trade Center on 9-11. For a brief moment we knew liberty as a divine gift. I believe that the rising generation is of a literal royal battalion so to speak. They have been reserved to come forth at this juncture in troubled times to preserve the banners of liberty around the world. It's in them that the curiosity of freedom will resound with new courage. It is they who will gain new wisdom from the fruits of this curiosity. They shall be the teachers to the elder generations and carry the world forth in medicine, technology and even refined religion. I have a hope. I have a hope that preparing the way for this rising royalty will be us as parents, grandparents and even fellow neighbors setting good examples and teaching them worthy precepts. I have a hope that our teachings will dwell in their hearts forever and they will find place to perfect their namesake rather than condemn it. I have hope of the preservation of the inspired Constitution of the United States. It's foundations are in jeopardy by cankered powers. I hope that we, as the United States and other free nations, will learn to lock arms as free countrymen in defense of rights and freedoms. That we will lock arms knowing fully our differing backgrounds and religions. That we will accept one another for who we are and that we will indeed strive to uplift and help our neighbor over ourselves. I have a hope that we, as a world community, will realize the healing behind becoming a compassionate world.
When we bumped our head as a child we cried for our mother and father. As adults we are flawed and though we don't often show it visibly we cry out for that eternal being that brought us to being. Whether we, as individuals, believe in God or not we still feel sorrow when we are stained by sin and discord. We still reach out with our hearts for someone to embrace us and tell us things will be alright. Each in our own way we reveal just how important personal salvation is to us. I love the Holy Bible. I love the precepts taught us through recorded inspiration. Yet, I also know that all man is flawed. I know that many parts of the Bible have been changed, omitted or just plain ignored. I also know that there are scores of ancient texts that were not included in the Bible canon. The Holy Bible stands resolute in spite of it all as a first witness of the divinity of God the Eternal Father and also of Jesus the Christ. God loves each and every one of us - flaws and all. He loves us so much that He has prepared the way through Jesus Christ to pave the way of salvation back into His presence for all His children. I am so grateful that our Father knows the weakness of man and has made reparation for the loss of knowledge of essential saving ordinances and doctrines. I am so grateful that the Eternal Father in Heaven specifically raised up men such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others and blessed them with the inspiration of liberty and freedom. He endowed them with power to organize and sustain a new nation built on hard work and happiness for all. It was Father's Plan to organize the United States of America to accomplish many of his designs. One of those is to provide the landscape to raise up the prophet Joseph Smith. Through Joseph Smith the simplicity of the eternal gospel has been restored. The fullness is here! There are no secrets and there are not dark mysteries. All is light in the Word of God.
Cold! My baptism by immersion in holy waters was cold! Though the fires of the Holy Ghost burned within the temperature of the water didn't agree with me at the time. As an eight-year-old that tends to stick in the memory. I was baptized in 1981 at the age of eight years. My mother drove the family over sixty miles to the nearest baptismal font which town is where I now reside. It was so many years ago that I only remember bits and pieces of my own baptism. That's all I can really tell you of my own ordinance. I would like to tell you a few feelings of the baptism of my own children. We have three children who have sojourned into the fields of mortality. All have been baptized here in the same place which I was baptized so many years ago and also my wife just a few months before our firstborn came forth. Knowing my own background I wanted my children to have a home grounded in the peace and wisdom of the gospel. As our children grew we prepared them to enter that time when they would eventually be solely accountable for their own actions and thoughts. We taught them, and their teachers taught them, the principles of personal agency to choose between right and wrong. This is essential for baptism. For there are no unwilling disciples of Jesus Christ. One must enter that covenant willingly and with full knowledge of the promises and blessings which accompany one's own discipleship. Each of our children had their "day in the sun" so to speak. We organized a little program for them. We had people assigned to an opening and closing prayer, a couple children hymns and even a couple talks about baptism and also the gift of the Holy Ghost. Eventually it was my time to take my child down into the waters of baptism. My child - willing to be buried as Christ and to come forth anew. I, bearing the royal priesthood of God, officiated the ordinance of my child's willing acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ and their covenant to follow in His footsteps.
One of the gears of harmony in the home that Church authorities have strongly encouraged among the Latter-day Saints for decades is Family Home Evening. Typically held on Monday, each week the family comes together as a unit to be instructed, grow closer, have fun activities and become spiritually enlarged. It is true that much success is built upon failure. Sometimes these lessons and activities don't go quite as planned or perhaps the kids are complaining thus skewing the atmosphere of harmony. Nonetheless, I so testify that each and every Family Home Evening that we've had in our home has fostered an overall peace and harmony in the home. Part of the human adventure is to learn leadership. Each member of our household is assigned their place in the rotation. They are responsible to prayerfully plan and execute an appropriate lesson and activity. This gives ownership to the entire household as to the success of the Family Home Evening experience. It gives everyone the opportunity to have an affect on the greatest part of their world - the family. Activities can be as diverse as the spectrum of light. One of our children was fascinated with origami and taught the rest of us some very interesting paper structures. Another loved science and showed us how to create things we've never done before. Short stories, cooking, gospel precepts, solar cooking, visiting the elderly, writing letters and even painting a room are all equally great ideas that over time can pull a family together. All good things take time to turn into a habit. It definitely was for our family. The challenge is to understand that all good things have unmeasured fruits that manifest down the road. There were times when our children thought that family time was a waste at diverse times. Yet, the Holy Spirit was fostering a foundation of eternal relationships that they, in turn, will teach their own families. It's all about the family. Families are eternal.
Joseph Smith was, is and continues to be the prophet of the Restoration - the Fullness of times and of this the last dispensation before the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in all his glory. I'm humbled by the life of Joseph. He taught us the necessity of being a record keeping people. I am humbled that though my own trials and tribulations are bitter at times I can take comfort from the history of Joseph that we can take courage in the face of adversity. One of the most penetrating lessons of Joseph is a matter of record. There was a time when Joseph was unjustly imprisoned and he cried to the Lord on behalf of the persecuted Latter-day Saints. The counsel brought to him in that dismal chamber was that he should take courage and that the Lord had descended below all our pains and sorrows. It made so much sense to me. In order to lift us up to the mere possibility of salvation Jesus Christ had to descend below all suffering. Like a cupped hand lifting water from the vat. I'm impressed that Joseph Smith wanted his own entire record known to the Church and the world as well. There were times that his human side took root. He learned from those mistakes. He could have hidden those instances from record but left it as a blueprint for the rest of us to learn from. I'm grateful for the courage inspired and cultivated by the Lord in Joseph Smith to do what was necessary to carry the work forward against incredible adverse powers and odds. He retained an eye single to the glory of God amidst persecution, dissent and even the deaths of more than one of his own children. To be mobbed, tarred and feathered and even beaten is chilling to say the least. Even to his dying breathe by gunshot he reached out to that God which gave him life. Through Joseph Smith the Lord restored the great work once again among man. Through the resolution of Joseph Smith my family has been able to benefit from the ordinance of being sealed for all time and eternity.
When you look in the mirror what do you see? Look into your eyes and the features of your face. What do you see? You not only see you but you see the product of all your ancestors and even the hope of your descendants. It's the same thing if you face two mirrors together and look in them. You see yourself projected for eternity. If this vision of light exists as fact then it certainly does for our bloodlines. Families are most sacred. Each generation born holds the keys to sanctify and justify the ones before. Tracing our family lines endorses a deeper purpose and meaning to our lives. It's a defining activity. We believe that God has ordained the family structure and relationship as good and proper and worthy to exalt man into the eternities. We, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, uphold the gravity of the Restoration of the Gospel. We believe that with it comes the actual literal authority of Jesus Christ to not only spread the gospel but also to bind in heaven that which we bind on earth. We believe that any authority has reason and purpose. If the authority to seal on earth and in heaven exists, then it is only truth to the heart that we can bond our family relationships. We research military, government and civil records to trace our roots. When verified we take those names to the holy temples that they may partake of that most holy authority - the sealing power of the Priesthood of God. Since most of these people researched out are now dead we take their names to the temple where we stand as proxy in their place. By proxy they are baptized, confirmed and are able to further partake of those bonding ordinances husband to wife, parent to child and so on. We do this so that our entire lines may be welded together by the steel thread of the gospel and the Priesthood power of Jesus Christ. Still, we do our part to ensure the family but it's still up to individual choice to accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Prayer is a miracle. Prayer is that silver thread connecting the heart and mind of man to his Maker. The conversation of prayer confirms the nature of God as an actual being. That Actual Being is there to listen and to counsel just as your mortal mother and father are there to listen and counsel. Prayer beams light through the dark mists of mortality and serves to give us hope and strength. Prayer is your personal conversation with the Father using your own heart's words and not a dialogue of scripted repetition. It's your opportunity to help ensure Father's countenance is upon you when you start your day or retire for the evening. Thus the sanctuary of prayer is worthy enough for all His children to constantly ask themselves before starting their day, "Did I think to pray?" Divided we fall in this world. Whether as a nation or a team atmosphere the magic of "two or more" perpetuates liberty, happiness and security of long life and prosperity. How often is our trust in man betrayed? What does that betrayal do to the furthering of common goals? It all collapses! We must petition daily the alliance of Father's favor. When we address him in honest sincere prayer we progressively learn to understand him and his workings in our own life. Thus we begin to "hear" his counsel with us. What better person to team with or what better friend can you have than your Everlasting Eternal Father in Heaven? Beside him there is none! Prayer has sustained me time and time again. It seems that my life often sees darkness more than light in the daily repetition of things. At the end of the day that Holy Exchange between me and my Father puts me at ease and helps me feel that as I sleep He continues to put things in place for my own good and learning. That may mean more hardships at times but with faith and endurance I am able to be sustained for yet another day and to learn what he wants me to learn. Prayer is the conduit for answers to all of life's problems.
When the woman was about to be stoned because she was caught in the act of sin the Lord declared "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." I am a simple man. I have not monetary wealth or a royal family line. My health as a child turned me into an introvert very early on. For years I held this against God if he existed at all. Yet, over time I have come to learn that I was being taught something all along. Compassion is the fruits of the Savior. We may judge the acts of others but we have not the right to judge the person themselves. We may despise adultery but only God can justly look upon the heart and determine motives. This is a lesson the Savior taught me. I have a deep feeling for those who suffer physically, emotionally and spiritually. Jesus Christ is my example because he, Himself, willingly descended below all pain and suffering and punishment than we can even comprehend. His divine appointment demanded it. He is the foundation of the bitter cup from which we can be healed. All this that we may learn, grow and develop like unto our Heavenly Father. After the multitude left the Savior asked the woman "Who now condemns thee." Much to her relief she answered "No man." When we refrain from judgement and giving offense we mutually present the atmosphere of repentance and forgiveness. The woman now has the opportunity to make restitution for her sins and to correct her ways. For the multitude (us who judge) we are then given the opportunity to reflect upon our own lives and to make corrections whether in our actions and/or our attitude. In essence the condemner and the condemned are brought low in humility into a common place of personal correction and growth. When we "judge not" we can thus be mutually edified and lifted up. Sins become remembered no more. I love the unmeasured teachings of the Savior. It's a lifelong testament of the need to study the scriptures continually.
Our firstborn was a stillborn child. It was an emotionally excruciating time for us. Very confusing. I was just trying to return to activity in the Church and my wife was newly baptized. Regardless of all the turmoil I never reverted from my belief that my child was real. My child did not form in the womb only to not have a spirit assigned to it. My child exists! At that time all my hope and faith rested upon that plea. My wife's family is largely of another major Christian faith. I won't name it here. Several came forward telling us that the baby needs to be baptized immediately or it will be damned. The entire concept was disgusting and distasteful to me. Surely it couldn't be the desire of a just God to rush into a baptism just because a baby's mortal body has failed. It made no sense to me at all. I searched. I sought out various philosophies and doctrines. In the end the promptings of the Spirit brought me back to the inspired guidance of the holy prophets and apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Through their mouths, the message the Lord had for me and countless others in our situation had only light and joy! There was no negative but rather hope and glory! My child lives! He is in the bosom of the Father! He shall come forth in the Millennium to grow in the flesh and develop into maturity. He shall be free from the mortal sickness of the world and he shall have knowledge even of a perfected nature than we can imagine in our sphere. When he is old he shall not die but will be changed in the twinkling of the eye. The joy of this is that I and my wife will have that opportunity to raise our child to maturity IF we remain worthy in this mortal journey to do so. Again, see the deep impact our personal choices can have on the future of not only ourselves but others as well? This part of the Plan has provided ongoing hope and faith for twenty years now and I joy in the day that we shall see our firstborn again.
I am the head of my household. When I rise early in the morning I know not what shall transpire at the end of the day. Will a child of mine be hurt? Will a member of my family die in an accident? Will my son come home with confidence from a completed wood project from school? Will I get sick or be offended by someone? Life offers incomplete answers to unlimited questions. Yet I rise! I rise with faith and a hope in the end result. I have faith that my family will have their health secured at the end of the day. I have faith that my children will gain wisdom and confidence in their daily learnings. I rise to do my part. My responsibility is to secure the means of supporting their lives, home and continued expansion of knowledge. We all have bills to pay. It's no fun but it's a fact of life for millions of us. There are so many out there these days that are willing to give up and accept entitlements from the government for their support. Where is the faith in surrender? We each have a divine spark from which to overcome all obstacles. I work that my family will maintain a degree of independence and work ethic. I have faith that the fruits of my labors will prove to uplift my household at the end of the day. Many of us feel belittled, downtrodden or just plain not worth it. I've felt this more than you know. Yet I rise in the morning with the resolution that I'm going to be an example. I'm going to make an impression upon my peers and co-workers for the better. I have faith that my positive words and actions will spread. I have faith that those good seeds will be take to their own homes and communities. Faith is the principle behind all action and all power. We do nothing and exercise nothing without a hint or forethought of the intended end result in mind. Going a step higher all faith must be centered in Jesus Christ. Why? Because his teachings expand the scope of faith and the means of growing and nurturing it. He is the source!
I live in an area with extremely sparse Latter-day Saint population. We learn to lean upon one another for support. We learn to live with the false propaganda and stereotypes of "Mormonism." I know the truths of eternity. I know my Father lives as well as Jesus the Christ. I know that they are two separate and distinct personages with bodies as tangible as yours and mine. I know that the Holy Ghost has a mission which is to testify within each one of us of the Father and the Son and yea even all truth. I live my faith by example to my nation, community, family and most of all myself. I rise daily with a restless and troubled soul with a resolution to be positive around others. I'm troubled because I continue to strive to do those productive activities that are outside my "comfort zone." I am content curling up in a corner unseen. Yet, over the years I've learned that there is a certain deliverance with being proactive. I've organized activities for putting together school kits for the Iraqi children. I've organized art shows and clean-up projects. I've helped flood and tornado victims. I've helped many people move their belongings from one house to the next. I've tried to be a friend and counsel with those in distress. Why do I do it? Because Jesus Christ was proactive. Even with his dying breath he was in the act of teaching and serving as an example. It's not my natural comfort level but it's something I've felt compelled to pursue and overcome. I'm sure in time I'll now the reasons but for now I'm satisfied that it is all in His wisdom how he folds the metal. My greatest offering of how I live my faith is demonstrated in my own home. I preside according to my commission endowed by my Creator. I teach the gospel. We pray as a family. We eat as a family. We even suffer trials and tribulations as a family. I am a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I'm eternally grateful for that blessing in my life.