Thursdays- 7:00-9:00 pm
Sunday after the block
Call Vaughn Mayo
Thursdays- 7:00-9:00 pm
Sunday after the block
Call Vaughn Mayo
Bishopric Monthly Messages
1st Counselor Stephen Earl
In the October 2000 General Conference, Elder Dallin Oaks shared, “The Apostle Paul taught that the Lord’s teachings and teachers were given that we may all attain the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). This process requires far more than acquiring knowledge. It is not even enough for us to be convinced of the gospel; we must act and think so that we are converted by it. In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.”
I love this fact that the gospel of Jesus Christ is truly all about becoming and so much more than just learning and knowing or memorizing all the many doctrines and stories and parables found in the scriptures.
It is sometimes frustrating to me that after having read the scriptures daily for many many years that I can’t remember where to find certain passages off the top of my mind, or when I am thinking of a particular topic I can’t remember what Alma said about it. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I am not reading and studying enough…
Several years ago I remember my then 88 year old grandmother telling me that she had read the Book of Mormon cover to cover just a few times during her life and she talked about how much she loved it’s teachings. Honestly, being young and naïve at the time, I was taken aback somewhat thinking she had only read it a few times in 88 years. I was in my twenties at the time and had read it cover to cover more than a dozen times. I thought “how can she even know the gospel if she isn’t reading and studying all of the time”?
What I learned later, is that she didn’t read cover to cover. Rather, she studied a little here and a little there, jumping to different areas of the scriptures based on what she wanted to learn. Cover to cover was not her thing. What I also saw in her is that she had learned enough to be able to internalize the teachings of Christ and become a Christlike person and a true believer. I came to recognize that she had become a person the scriptures teach us to become.
I also love watching our young men and women, who at a younger age are learning the gospel and to see them grow and leave home and then come back to visit. It is amazing to me to see that the theory they had learned in their youth has now become reality—it is very exciting!
Becoming is a never-ending process and an opportunity as we strive to live the gospel and move our way through this life and into the next.
Ministering Angels—No assignment required
In a recent conference address, President Eyring shared an experience from when he was young man. One of his priesthood leaders shared with him that when he was meeting someone for the first time that he should assume that there was a 50% chance that this person was facing a major challenge in their life. President Eyring went on to say that over the years in his experience he has found that this good brother’s estimate of 50% was much too low!
I have to agree with President Eyring. Even those around us who appear to have it all together and perhaps even the perfect life are likely facing significant challenges, whether it be of health, employment, distressed children or grandchildren, a crisis of faith, relationship concerns, or a myriad of other more simple challenges.
As we go about our lives are we looking for ways to serve those around us? Even though we all face big challenges sometimes, we also experience a multitude of smaller issues that may not have eternal consequences but that nonetheless are immediate concerns. There are times when a simple helping hand from someone recognizing a need is all that is required to get us through a difficult moment—a stranger stopping to give directions, a neighbor helping to load a truck or haul away yard debris, sometimes it is just an invitation to participate in an activity when are feeling excluded or lonely.
I still remember running my very first marathon. It was mile 18 and my calf had begun cramping. As my pace slowed a little and my stride showed a limp, a fellow runner who must have noticed my condition ran up beside me and offered me some Advil. I gladly accepted and within minutes I was feeling much better. I never saw her again, but she was an absolute angel who made an extreme difference in my life at that moment in time. I have always felt I was sent an angel to buoy me up in a moment of need.
“For I will…be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” D&C 84:88—Although I believe in angels we can’t see who will bear us up, I also believe that each of us can literally be angels to one another through our kind acts for one another and we can be inspired by God to answer the prayers of friends, family, and loved ones. If we will be listening for the spirit to direct us and be conscious of those around us and search out those in need, we will see and recognize the needs of others and we will act and minister as Christ would have us do. Remember, most everyone you see is in need—no assignment required.
-Love Brother Earl
In 2018, I spent the year studying the Old Testament and it was a good experience. I learned a lot. However, I can’t tell you how good it feels to be back in the Book of Mormon where the plain and precious truths of God and the gospel are so much more easy to understand!
I recently finished reading the chapters in Jacob in the Book of Mormon. I think he is one of my favorite writers in the Book of Mormon. I really love the way he writes. How he writes, what he writes about, it is so real to me and so applicable. I’m not sure what it is but I really connect with him and I seem to understand everything he wrote better than some of the other prophets. I can totally understand why Nephi chose Jacob as his successor and to entrust him with the plates of brass and with the spiritual leadership of his people.
A few of the subjects he addresses and talks about include magnifying the offices to which we are called, declaring the word of God to our children and fellow man, being concerned for both the spiritual and temporal welfare of our family and neighbors, obedience, repentance, pride, chastity, the seeking of riches, what to do with riches when we might get them, and temple attendance…and all this is found in just one chapter! (Jacob 2)
I feel like Jacob was so inspired and lived in such a way that his words were solidified by his example and the way he lived. He didn’t just speak the words, he lived them. In Jacob 4:6-8 , he wrote:
“6 Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
7 Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.
8 Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.”
Perhaps for the same reasons Jacob is one of my favorite writers and leaders in the Book of Mormon, President Russell M. Nelson is one of my favorite modern writers and leaders. His life is the very epitome of his writings and teachings and both are so powerful and inspiring.
I hope as each of us take a few minutes each day to read the scriptures that we strive to take the things we learn and apply them to our daily life. Not only can we find answers to the mysteries of God in the scriptures, maybe even more importantly, we can find the answers to how we find joy in day to day living.
I am so grateful for the scriptures.
Taking Upon Ourselves the Name of Jesus Christ
During the October General Conference of The Church, I noticed a couple of common themes. One of them was this idea of taking upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ.
Several speakers touched upon this topic including President Henry B. Eyring, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and Elder Robert C. Gay.
Elder Gay asked this question of himself: “Am I taking upon myself the Savior’s name as He would have me do so?” “First, to take upon ourselves the name of Christ means we faithfully strive to see as God sees.” “While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard, for His love is unfathomable.”
I love the idea that perhaps, taking upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, means that we strive to see others as He sees them. As I have contemplated this idea, I fear that all too often I have judged those around me solely on the basis of what I can see them doing or not doing. Perhaps I miss seeing them at church-and I pass judgment; or I see them sipping a “forbidden” beverage-and I pass judgment; or I see them dressing a particular way-and I pass judgment. And all this passing of judgment is based on my limited knowing and understanding of the realities of the person being judged.
President Eyring shared an important insight he learned at a very young age from one of his leaders who told him, “Hal, when you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.” President Eyring continued, “Not only was he right, but I have learned that he was too low in his estimate”
Elder Gay shared his experience that as he laid his hands upon his dying sister’s head to give her a blessing, he too thought of his sister in terms of what he saw her life to be—one of inactivity in the church and the many trials she faced in life. As he gave her this last priesthood blessing here in mortality, he said, “I received a severe rebuke from the Spirit. I was made acutely aware of her goodness and allowed to see her as God saw her—not as someone who struggled with the gospel and life but as someone who had to deal with difficult issues I did not have. I saw her as the friend to our mother who took time to watch over and be a companion to her after our father passed away. During that final evening with my sister, I believe God was asking me, “Can’t you see that everyone around you is a sacred being?””
I believe with all my heart that taking upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ includes our responsibility to try and see others as He sees them. That we then reserve judgment and simply and plainly serve and love those around us as we believe Christ would do.
I love that President Nelson is helping us as members of the church to simplify the gospel and move closer to the higher law where we first and foremost Love God and our fellowman and we look for the needs around us and then fill those needs quickly and with love and with out reservation or judgment.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this month, it is our opportunity to look as closely as we can and try to imagine how He sees us and those around us, and strive to then do the same. I am so grateful for the Savior’s example and for showing us the way, the truth, and the life.
Love, Brother Earl
Part of the Plan
One spring morning in 2002, I woke up like I always did and started getting ready for work. I stepped into the shower and let the soothing stream of water help me really wake up and get my mind moving and ready for the day. For some reason on this day, when I got out of the shower I seemed a little more self-aware. I noticed in the mirror that I was really starting to get fat! Something I vowed as a teenager, I would never do! Later that morning I was loading some equipment in my truck, something I did everyday, but that day I didn’t have the strength to do it on my own. I had to ask for help! Then, later that evening, while getting ready for bed, I was brushing my teeth and noticed grey hair beginning to bleed through my normally light brown hair!
At the tender age of 34 I finally took note…I was getting old. For the first time in my life I realized I was mortal and that I wasn’t going to live forever. So of course, the very next day I purchased a three year membership at Gold’s Gym ! And so began my daily effort to try and defy the aging process!
I think most of us have probably had a similar experience.
I recently re-read a conference address of then President (of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles) Russell M. Nelson from April 2012. He said, “If the body’s capacity for normal function, defense, repair, regulation, and regeneration were to prevail without limit, life here would continue in perpetuity. Yes, we would be stranded here on earth! Mercifully for us, our Creator provided for aging and other processes that would ultimately result in our physical death. Death, like birth, is part of life. “
I had never considered the idea of being here on earth was like being stranded somewhere between where we had been and where we were trying to go. That is such a descriptive analogy! This life, as wonderful as it can sometimes be, is just a temporary proving ground for where we are trying to go.
It has now been more than 15 years since I had my first realization of my own mortality. My hair is now mostly grey and although I have consistently worked daily to exercise and eat right, I am definitely feeling more and more the effects of aging. As part of that process, I am grateful that I have also spent more time in the scriptures and in learning and doing the will of my Heavenly Father. The realization of my own mortality and that of my loved ones, has brought me closer to my Savior. I have sought for the comfort and direction of Him through the spirit as I realize my time is becoming shorter. I feel a greater sense of urgency each day to accomplish my goals, serve my fellow brothers and sisters, and follow the example of Jesus.
I feel more each day a desire to use my time wisely and to spend it in doing good and worthwhile activities. I hope I can do as President Hinckley once described as “leaving it all on the road, diving across the finish line having worn out this physical body in the service of God and fellowman”.
This life is good, but I think the next will be even better. I am grateful for the plan of salvation and for a knowledge and testimony of what comes next. The atonement of Christ is real. This mortality will put on immortality and that great and free gift of resurrection opens the door for eternal life with those we love most. I believe with all my heart that this is true.
The Love of a Father
Brothers and sisters, last Sunday when I saw one our ward sons, newly returned missionary, Elder Spencer Snow, I was profoundly touched when I saw him sit down next to his father Dave Snow. Dave was absolutely beaming. I could literally feel his pride and love and gratitude as Elder Snow sat down next to him. We are all so proud of Elder Snow and so grateful to have him home!
It caused me to think of one of my sons who served his mission in El Salvador nearly six years ago. Although there is an incredible love between mother and son, I can’t help but think of the special bond between a father and his son who is serving a mission.
While I basked in the joy emanating from the Snows last Sunday, my thoughts wondered to a letter I wrote to my son while on his mission. At the time, he was struggling with some anxiety. Anxiety is something I think most of us can relate to. I felt impressed to share this letter with my ward family…
Dear Elder Earl,
Thank you for your amazing letter to the family. You have such a powerful testimony. Where I can see so much growth in you is that it is very apparent that your testimony is real. It is based upon experience and actual results instead of mostly a hope and a thought—or theory. You have experimented upon the word, you have feasted upon the word, and you have had a love of God and all men. You have applied Jesus Christ’s teaching to yourself and seen first hand the results of others accepting and applying those teachings to their lives. It is very rewarding as your father to see the gospel become truly real in your life and to see the dedication you have to the work of the Lord. Thank you so much for your great efforts and sacrifice.
Laura has an expression in her personal prayers. She says every night, “please bless Dallin to become a true missionary of the church”. You really are a true missionary of the church and you are a ministering angel to everyone you serve and teach.
Also, I wanted to say a few words concerning your letter to me which shared your experience related to the tension you feel in your chest. I appreciate you sharing this challenge with me. It is something that I think about and pray about almost daily.
Firstly, I am very proud of you and the way you are dealing with this challenge. You are so tough mentally. It takes an enormous amount of endurance and toughness and resolve to deal with any ongoing challenge. I think you have definitely taken every step you can think of to overcome it. You have gone above and beyond. I also am baffled as to what is the cause. Based on your experiences of trying different things, it does seem clear to me that it is some kind of anxiety that is to at least some degree affected by your thoughts. I base that on your comment that “The Work” has had some affect on it, at least temporarily.
One thought I have is that it could be something, at east partially, physical. So if I combine the two ideas, that would mean that the tension may have both mental and physical causes. Here is one scenario: when the physical cause manifests itself and you begin to feel the tension, your mental thoughts then kick in consciously or unconsciously perpetuating the feeling and amplifying the tension. Now there’s a theory! I should write a paper! Bottom line is I don’t know either. But the idea that it is physical, emotional, mental, has a high degree of probability. One thought I have had recently and that I have had several experiences with is this:
In section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants is found the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood. It has a couple of promises. In verse 33 it says that those who are faithful unto the obtaining of these two priesthoods and magnify their callings are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. I believe that literally this means that if we keep our covenants, remain faithful, and magnify our callings we can call down the powers of heaven and request that the Lord literally renew our body, mind, and spirit. I have had the experience of receiving this blessing often, even daily when ever I have requested it. And I have found that the more specific I am in my prayers and request, the more effective and specific the blessing.
When I pray for this blessing I ask the Lord to renew and regenerate all the cells in my body, the muscles, tissue and sinew. I ask him to repair and complete all the synapsis in my brain, correct and restore each system found in my body. I literally work through each area and part of my body and then work to the chemicals in my brain, hormones, digestive system, nervous system, endocrine system, and so on. I then ask that I be able to sleep deeply enough that the 4-5 hours of sleep I am about to get will be the equivalent of 8 so that I can get up feeling full of energy and enthusiasm, and feel well rested and ready for all of the activities and challenges of the day. I have found, even again this week, that when I take the time to do this, I really do actually receive these blessings. For example, I did this three times this week and I woke up having received the blessing. This morning when I went for my run, I felt so rested and so fresh. I did not have the usual aches and pains I normally do when I start running. Usually it takes a mile to work out the kinks and tightness before I really feel good. It was awesome and I noticed the physical difference. I experienced this three times this week—each time I took the time to pray for it. I truly believe in the promises of the Lord. I will also say though, that with every request, prayer, or blessing, it must also be the will of the Lord. Additionally, verse 80 says, “and any man that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind, neither darkened, neither in body, limb, nor joint; and a hair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed. “…vs88…for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you to bear you up.” Wow! What a blessing!
I have also come to the conclusion that blessing our food and being in the right frame of mind when we eat is critical. I believe that blessing our food literally changes the vibration of it’s physical form to be of best use to our bodies. And that we do our best to be in a positive state of mind when we eat so that our digestive system is working properly.
Again, bottom line is that I really don’t know what is the issue and I don’t have a definitive answer. I do think that you are right and that the Lord will bless you with what you need—whether it be curing the problem or giving you the strength and ability to endure this burden well.
I believe that it was George Albert Smith who suffered greatly from depression and/or some other mental ailment. At one point he had to take a couple years off from the duties of being an apostle. Each one of us has our own unique set of challenges. I have come to the conclusion that whatever my challenges, I will do my best to resolve them, overcome them, get rid of them, but that if it is my opportunity to live with them, I will do my best and I will try to cast that burden upon the Lord whenever I am able and I will carry that burden when ever I need to. From your letters, I can see clearly that you are doing just that, very well.
These are all just thoughts, no real answers. Just know that I am praying for you earnestly and specifically to have this tension removed from your body. I will fast each fast Sunday for this purpose and I will keep your name on the prayer roll with it in mind. Just know also, that even though I will do these things, I am not worried about you. I know the Lord is caring for you and I know how capable you are to deal with it and/or overcome it.
You are destined for great things, you are doing great things. Keep up the work and keep the faith.
I love you,
Why is there Opposition in all things?
I once saw a Nike t-shirt that says , "It's supposed to hurt." It's fantastic advice -- especially for members of the church who understand that one of the main purposes of the Plan of Salvation and for this earth experience is to be tried, tested, and to gain experience.
Sometimes, during our journey here on earth, we forget that having opposition in our lives is critical to our progression. We sometimes find ourselves living in the Land of What Ought To Be, and we become crippled by a pernicious, usually subconscious belief: "Because I am doing a good and noble thing, my efforts should be blessed, my path should be smooth, my barriers should be lifted, and everything should go my way because I am doing the right thing."
The scriptures and history clearly demonstrate that the most faithful and ambitious of all God’s children are battered by the most furious storms and are forced to climb the highest mountains. In our current reading of The Pearl of Great Price and the Old Testament, think of the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and others who’s lives had them fighting battles with swords, children doing crazy things, neighbors wanting to kill them (literally), having to travel under the most extreme of conditions and so on. Think of Mormon and Moroni who watched and lived the destruction of their family, friends, and entire nation. Think of the prophet Joseph Smith and all of our pioneer heritage.
I often think of members of our own ward family who cross bare foot the frozen streams of health issues, climb over the rugged peaks of emotional and mental distress, walk across deserts through the blazing heat of relationship issues, and financials problems, and I especially feel for those of us who have sailed or are sailing through the ocean storms of children struggling to find their testimony and to even get to the other side of adolescence.
Because of the nature of this world and grand purpose it holds, the reality is that no one is spared, and in fact the harder we try and the more committed we become, and the more pure our intentions… the greater the opposition. I believe that, “Our trials in life are directly proportional to the greatness and grandness of our goals and aspirations”.
Can you imagine if this belief were true? Our ultimate goal is to return to the presence of God and to become even like Him! Can there be a greater goal or aspiration? As such, we will be required to go through the refiners fire.
Sometimes opposition is perceived as a sign that we are on the wrong path. After all, if we are doing what Father wants, shouldn't He open doors and fight our battles? As I suggested, the more committed you are to living the life God has commanded, the more opposition you can expect. Opposition marks the narrow path to eternal life. In fact beware if things in your life are too easy, for the broad path of the adversary is evidenced by ease.
It is only at our breaking point that we become truly useful to Father. It is only by repeatedly slamming against our limitations that we stay humble and develop enough faith to be shaped for His work. It is only by dropping to our knees in utter weakness that we can be made strong.
Gratefully, from time to time, Father in Heaven may open doors for us and fight some battles. But when He doesn’t it’s not because we are on the wrong path or because He doesn’t love us, it’s because he wants and even needs us to build strength, endurance, and most of all faith. For all the greatness and grandness of the plan of salvation and for all the immensity of all of Father’s creations and children, His ultimate purpose is to build each of us individually.
The plan of salvation is no larger than God’s one on one relationship with you and me.
That is why there is opposition in all things.
Currently in my Book of Mormon studies, I am in 3 Nephi. I find it interesting…there has just been massive destruction, signs given of Christ’s death on the other side of the world, and the only people left are those who have been at least partially righteous. Christ has descended out of heaven (3Ne:11), he has shown himself to the people, he has blessed them, he has organized his church and called 12 apostles.
Then in 3Ne:19, I found something extra interesting…
The people have seen the power of God and the compassion and miracles of Jesus Christ. The twelve apostles are each teaching groups of people and they are instructed to kneel down to pray and they offer a prayer 3Ne:19:9—“And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.”
This is what is so interesting to me… After seeing what Jesus was capable of and knowing that he could grant them anything they wanted, they could have asked for their homes to be restored, they could have asked for food to fall from heaven, they could have asked that loved ones who died in the destructions to be brought back to life, they could have asked for riches, or virtually anything they wanted, knowing he could give it to them.
But instead, the thing that they desired most, more than anything, was that “the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.” This really struck me for the first time, even though I have read that passage probably hundreds of times.
So I asked myself the questions, “What is my greatest desire?” And, “Why, even with having Jesus in their midst, would they desire the Holy Ghost above all other things?” So I started studying this question, “why should having the Holy Ghost be the greatest desire of MY heart?
Then I related it to my everyday life and some of the things that make life better for me and I asked myself a strange question, “what if I had an app for my phone that could do the following:
I know I can’t have an app that will do all of that. But quite literally, if I have the spirit with me, all of these things are possible! As I think again why the people of Nephi desired the Holy Ghost above all other gifts I begin to understand their response based on the blessings one can receive by having the spirit as a constant companion.
I also find it interesting that in Alma 5, as Alma is testifying to the people of what he knows to be true, he doesn’t state that he knows the truth because he has seen an angel (even though he had), and that he doesn’t refer to the visions he has had (because he seen visions as well), but rather he states he knows the truth based on the holy spirit testifying to him that it is true.
The spirit is the most powerful witness one can have and as such should be the most sought after desire of our heart. As members of the church I think sometimes we forget that we have the Gift of the Holy Ghost. What a blessing it is. We need to take advantage of it and seek to always live in such a way that we truly take advantage of this marvelous opportunity.
During this Christmas season, I hope we will all consider the greatest gift we can choose to want to have—the gift of the Holy Ghost
I love the Book of Mormon. It is absolutely the foundation of my testimony. My absolute belief that it is the word of God and was brought forth in the last days by the prophet Joseph Smith is what grounds me when I have questions or when I lack understanding to the many mysteries of life and the eternities.
The Book of Mormon was written for our day, for us. We live in a very fast paced and changing society. It is often all about the moment at hand and so much of the important things of life are quickly forgotten.
It seems that even the special spiritual experiences we each have been blessed to have in our personal lives and in our families can be quickly forgotten. In Heavenly Father’s infinite wisdom, he inspired the prophets in the Book of Mormon to admonish us to REMEMBER.
After speaking to his people and giving wise counsel, King Benjamin said, “O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”
In fact, the Book of Mormon prophets remind us to “remember” 183 times!
Elder Ronald A. Rasband shared the following prior to being called to the Quorum of the Twelve:
“My patriarchal blessing indicates that I would be given special experiences that would strengthen my own testimony. Brothers and sisters, think of the special experiences you have been blessed with in your life that have given you conviction and joy in your heart. Remember when you first knew that Joseph Smith was God’s prophet of the Restoration? Remember when you accepted Moroni’s challenge and knew that the Book of Mormon was indeed another testament of Jesus Christ? Remember when you received an answer to fervent prayer and realized that your Heavenly Father knows and loves you personally? As you contemplate such special experiences, don’t they give you a sense of gratitude and resolve to go forward with renewed faith and determination?”
Remembering is such a critical part of our spiritual development. Because we forget so quickly, it is important for us to find ways to help us remember. One of the ways is to read The Book of Mormon often, maybe continuously.
My testimony is that the Book of Mormon is true, it will help us remember, and it will help keep our testimonies burning bright, and it will help each of us through all of the struggles and challenges and opportunities that life tends to throw at us!
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.