A life defining General Conference

I love President Benson.

When you watch this talk (rather than just read the text) you see that President Benson almost gave a different talk at the Priesthood Session and just had this one printed in the Ensign.

Please watch this! And to the men who watch this, Please live it!


This talk defined my adulthood. It was essential to the way we raised our family.

I was far from perfect, but I knew what I needed to be doing. I did (and still do) strive to live it.

The following talk (Also from the October 1987 General Conference)  is another that I have referred to time and again in my life as well. It is just as important today as it was then.

Listen to it and live it!

Then … Look up all of President Benson’s talks, find and read his books, and hopefully you will learn to love him the way I do!

Serve God with all your heart, might, mind and strength

Yay! I had the opportunity to talk in Church on Sunday!

I think it went pretty good. I was speaking with the guy from the High Council, so I had to keep it short – I came in at about 12 minutes – perfectly within my allotted time.

For your reading enjoyment – here it is: (Without my comments about Ma Hen being a hottie)

Some topics give you so many different directions you can take. And I started down a number of them in preparing this talk. With the subject I was given I could talk about Mosiah 2:17 – And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (And I will expand on this a little bit later).

Or maybe I could talk about home teaching, or loving our neighbors in a generic sence.

To me, almost every topic the bishopric gives you can be used to talk about the Atonement, Agency the Holy Ghost, and the best talks include all of them!

What direction did I end up with? Well, let’s find out.

President Brigham Young taught, [And so you know for the next little while, I’ll be quoting extensively from President Young] “The purpose of our life should be to build up the Zion of our God. We have no business here other than to build up and establish the Zion of God.[And,]it must be done according to the will and law of God [see D&C 105:5], after that pattern and order by which Enoch built up and perfected the former-day Zion”

…[W]e have been commanded to gather ourselves together, to come out of Babylon, and sanctify ourselves, and build up the Zion of our God, by building cities and temples, redeeming countries from the solitude of nature, until the earth is sanctified and prepared for the residence of God and angels (DBY, 407).

When we conclude to make a Zion we will make it, and this work commences in the heart of each person. When the father of a family wishes to make a Zion in his own house, he must take the lead in this good work, which it is impossible for him to do unless he himself possesses the spirit of Zion. Before he can produce the work of sanctification in his family, he must sanctify himself, and by this means God can help him to sanctify his family (DBY, 118).

We have come here to build up Zion. How shall we do it? … We have got to be united in our efforts. We should go to work with a united faith like the heart of one man; and whatever we do should be performed in the name of the Lord, and we will then be blessed and prospered in all we do. We have a work on hand whose magnitude can hardly be told (DBY, 284).

Everything connected with building up Zion requires actual, severe labor. It is nonsense to talk about building up any kingdom except by labor; it requires the labor of every part of our organization, whether it be mental, physical, or spiritual, and that is the only way to build up the Kingdom of God (DBY, 291).

If we are to build up the Kingdom of God, or establish Zion upon the earth, we have to labor with our hands, plan with our minds, and devise ways and means to accomplish that object (DBY, 291).

…[I]f every man and woman would live their religion, and enjoy the light and glory of the Gospel for themselves, be passive, humble and faithful; rejoice continually before the Lord, attend to the business they are called to do, and be sure never to do anything wrong (DBY, 119).

All would then be peace, joy, and tranquility, in our streets and in our houses. Litigation would cease, there would be no difficulties before the High Council and Bishops’ Courts, and courts, turmoil, and strife would not be known (DBY, 119).

Then we would have Zion, for all would be pure in heart (DBY, 119).

So Brothers and Sisters of the Doña Ana ward, will Zion be built in a land that doesn’t honor God’s principles? The answer is of course, “No.” In D&C 105:5 we are told: And 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.

What are the laws of the Celestial Kingdom?

First of all the New and Everlasting Covenant of Eternal Marriage between a man and woman. Fidelity in that marriage is of course part of the celestial law.

The Law of Obedience to God’s commandments is a celestial law.

To expand on this I want to return to Mosiah Chapter 2 and King Benjamin for a second.

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

He doesn’t just remind the people that when they are serving each other that they are serving God, but that even everyone needs to serve the people. Benjamin doesn’t say give me (i.e. the government) all of your money so I can serve the people, he tells them to go serve the people. Then he tells them not to thank him or give him praise for his service but to thank our Heavenly Father. And how do we thank him?

In verse 22 he says:

And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

The Law of Sacrifice and the Law of Consecration are of course celestial laws. Elder McConkie defined these as follows:

The law of sacrifice is that we are willing to sacrifice all that we have for the truth’s sake—our character and reputation; our honor and applause; our good name among men; our houses, lands, and families: all things, even our very lives if need be.

The law of consecration is that we consecrate our time, our talents, and our money and property to the cause of the Church: such are to be available to the extent they are needed to further the Lord’s interests on earth.

He also emphasized that we might not be called upon to act on these things, but we must be able to do it. (Not just “willing”). Are we living our lives such that if called upon we could turn over everything to the cause of building Zion?

Can we give the Lord our time? Are we able? Are we willing?

Elder Hales taught that Tithing is part of the Celestial law. In the end it’s just a little reminder of the law of consecration, but one that we must not ignore.

Another celestial commandment is that we must be united as a people. I already quoted D&C 105:5, but you might study D&C 78:11-15 for a little more on that, and you might also read in Section 104:47-53 where the Lord tells the Saints that although they failed to live the United Order, they were still commanded to be united in our Stakes of Zion.

Brothers and sisters, building up the kingdom of God on the Earth, establishing Zion in our own lives, in our families, in our ward, our stake, our community and eventually as far as we can have influence is part of the celestial law.

Sometimes people read D&C 4:2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. And think it only applies to full time missionaries, but we are all commanded to be missionaries.

In D&C 59: 5 the Lord commands us: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.

We must commit ourselves, our time or talents our energy, everything the Lord has blessed us with to creating a Zion for all of our brothers and sisters to live in. We must serve, and teach others to serve. We must be self-reliant and teach others to be such. We must love God and teach others to love God.

What is your duty? What is your role in building Zion? You personally? Because in the end we know we can’t do everything? That’s is what the Atonement is for. Christ will make up for the areas we fall short as long as we do the best we can. But how do you know you are doing the best you can?

Listen to the Spirit! We take the sacrament every when so the spirit may be with us. Live worthy of the Spirit, listen to the Spirit and follow the Spirit. Build Zion in yourself. Build Zion in your family. Help the families you teach build Zion in their homes. Help make our ward a Zion, then help Las Cruces become a true Stake of Zion.

Zion will be a place where not only will people live the celestial law but they will do it while exercising their agency. We need to help the people understand that living the gospel will truly make them free.

We must become accurately informed on the issues of the day and then let others know how we feel. Our society is under attack from more sides than many of us realize and we need to stand up against the moral decline going on all around us. Standing by on the sidelines and watching our country implode is not acceptable. We need to put our hearts, might mind and strength into preserving our freedoms and preparing the people to be a Zion people.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound. ‘Tis right, politically, for a man who has influence to use it. … From henceforth I will maintain all the influence I can get”

[By the way, every great talk will also quote President Benson!]

I testify to you that God’s hand has been in our destiny. I testify that freedom as we know it today is being threatened as never before in our history. I further witness that this land…must be protected, its Constitution upheld, for this is a land foreordained to be the Zion of our God. He expects us as members of the Church … to do all we can to preserve our liberty.

Listen to the Spirit. If the Holy Ghost has given you a prompting as to what role you can play in building up God’s kingdom on the earth – Do it! Serve the Lord as you improve the lives of the people of our community and country.

 If you think you’ve done enough to preserve liberty, read Jacob 2:19.

And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good — to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

We need to use our resources to restore God’s intentions to this land. We need to liberate the captives in our own land. There are people all around us who are enslaved by sin, who are enslaved by dependency, people who are enslaved by ignorance. If we love God with all of our heart, might, mind and strength, we will seek to free them in the name of Jesus Christ. It is service in a righteous cause. Of this I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Jacob 2:19

For those of you who aren’t members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – that’s in the Book of Mormon.

And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good — to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. – Jacob 2:19

This verse has had me thinking for a few weeks now. The world is full of captives, and we need to do what we can to liberate them.

Some people out there (probably not too many who would read my blog, but …) think that means we need to raid the prisons and let the prisoners out. If that’s what you think, you would be mistaken. People need to face the consequences of their actions, and if they are criminals, they need to do their time, but they need to be liberated from the bondage of sin that put them in prison in the first place. Yes, we need to put support people in their struggles to become free from the bonds of sin. But the truth is, they need to free themselves by shunning sin (See John 8:31-36) and by the saving power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

But there are other types of bondage that enslave billions around the world as well. The worst part of this type of bondage is that a huge part of these people (and perhaps a majority) have no idea they are in bondage.

To best understand this, you must first understand another concept – agency.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the most important gift our Father in Heaven has given us. Only through the Atonement can we be made perfect and return to the presence of God. But the second most important gift is that of our Agency.

[mantra-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left” width=”40%”]Agency is our ability to choose and to act for ourselves.

Freedom is power or ability to make personal choices without compulsion.

Liberty is the state or condition of being able to act and think freely. [/mantra-pullquote]

God will not take away our Agency. It is His intention that we have the freedom to exercise our agency. If we live in a land of liberty, we will have that freedom.

This has been how it was since the beginning. We will have consequences for our actions and disobeying the commandments of God, but we ARE free to choose.

Look at the world around us. What countries live under some sort of socialist or some other form of despotism? Obviously we start with North Korea, China, Burma, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Iran, Venezuela, Laos, Vietnam, Zambia, Syria, Belarus, Turkmenistan, but these are just a start. If you are just looking at economic despotism you need to add Sweden, Norway and increasingly Russia, France, Great Britain – heck, all of Europe. Want to see economic oppression combined with religious persecution – look all over the Middle East and Northern Africa. Don’t get me started on Central and South America.

We live in a world were most people have few if any rights, and the few people who have some rights are oppressed in other areas of their life. Unfortunately most of these people seem to be completely unaware of their plight.

Even in a country like ours, we are being overrun with government regulation, idiotic rules and made to believe we are still a free country. Well guess what? THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES ON! Someone has to say it!

People … we need to use our resources to restore God’s intentions to this land. We need to liberate the captives in our own land, and reignite the beacon of freedom. It is a righteous cause and I will be writing more about this.

Satan is an impostor

We already know Satan is an impostor. One of his strategies is to counterfeit the things of God. Many of you have heard my explanation of Islam being Satan’s attempt to counterfeit the Latter-Day Restoration, maybe I’ll even make a blog post about it one day.

Now some of his followers (atheists, not actual Satanists) are having “church” services – just without God.

There are certain things inside us, part of our nature that we long for, and Satan tries to fill those longings we have with something cheap and artificial. Whether it’s alcohol and drugs, a permiscuous lifestyle or sodomy. We must stand for what God intended, and seek after the blessings he has for us. An Eternal Life as heirs to ALL He has, not just the temporary things of this world.


Building Zion

Mosiah_4_14-15This post was inspired by a Regional Conference I attended while working in the Central Valley in California.

For decades now I have had the thoughts of building Zion on my mind. Since I first taught Gospel Doctrine when I was about 22-26 (I taught the whole 4 year cycle without a partner to take every other week – like wimpy people these days 🙂 ) I love the concept of trying to be one with God, building Zion in your own heart, then creating Zion in your family. Raising a family up to the Lord. I didn’t want them to “quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin,” I wanted to teach them to love the Lord, and hopefully they will create their own Zion in their own home when they move out.

From there, you help build Zion in your own community, through your neighborhood, church or whatever groups, then your town, state, country, etc.

We need to build our own area as a Stake of Zion.Elder Hales

One of the things that some people don’t understand about Zion is the idea that there will be no poor among them.  How is that going to happen? Jesus said the poor will always be among us (John 12:8). The answer is through self-reliance. A Zion people will live as a self-reliant people, they will teach it among their people.  A Zion people are of one heart, and they think and feel the same way. That doesn’t mean people will never fall on hard times, but as a self-reliant people they will do what needs to be done to take care of their family, and when they need help their neighbors will help them out. Just as you willingly want to help your neighbor, they willingly want to help you. In Zion, caring for those in need isn’t a compulsion forced upon us by the State, it’s a voluntary act of charity. There is no blessing in your life when you are forced to do the right thing, you are blessed by your voluntary acts of goodness, charity and love for one another.

A State stealing your money to redistribute it plays no part in charity.

A Zion people know that dependence on others weakens your Spirit. Help from others is a blessing to be cherished in a time of need, but will utilized only as truly needed. It can not become a crutch.

We all commit to live a life consecrated to Christ and the building of Zion. We will all do our part as committed brothers and sisters in Christ, and we will do it without coercion. We can start building Zion in our own families, neighborhoods and towns. We can be mentors to others who need help. We can teach self-reliance, but as Elder Hales said (See above), we have to be self-reliant if we are going to help others, and we need to be in the right situation to really be able to service.

So, get your years supply! 🙂

Once we as a people (and hopefully as a church) commit to build Zion, we will do it. I will look up more quotes on this later, because there have been some very important teachings along these lines.



Praying with real intent

The other day in Sunday School I received a little bit of inspiration that I’ve felt like I should share with everyone.

James 1:5-6
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

This scripture immediately brought Moroni 10:4 to my mind.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

What really hit me hard was that not only do we need to pray with faith, but with real intent. What intent? Well, what the Spirit told me was that we need to have intent to do the do what the Lord tells us. We must have real intent to follow up on the answer.  God knows our intent, you can’t fake it. You need to be intent on doing whatever the Lord asks. What good does it do you or the Lord for him to tell you the truth and for you to not act upon it.

What if Joseph Smith had only asked the Lord what church was true without a firm commitment to join the church the one the Lord told him to join? Of course, Joseph didn’t expect to get the answer he got, but once he had it, he was committed to do what the Lord told him to do regarding the answer he received.

Anyway, nothing too profound, but something I thought I’d like to share.


The fact that God knows us, doesn’t deminish our agency

I seriously never thought that Van Jones would make an appearance in my faith blog, but here he is…

I have never really understood people who think the fact that God knows you, and knows what you are going to do and what choices you are going to make takes away your freedom to choose.

God knows everything. He is our Father. He knows each of us individually. The fact that He knows what choices we will make doesn’t mean He has predestined us to do anything. More accurately, we have chosen our own destiny by freely making choices in our life.

We can’t choose the repercussion of our choices, instead we choose the repercussion by our choices.