Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I can't say enough about how wonderful this talk is; it's quite inspiring, and I think it would do wonders if everyone in the country would read it and apply it.
Here's the link: http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-1117-19,00.html
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
...the brother of Jared recognized that the Lord was a God of truth; therefore, He could not lie. What great hope this attribute brings to my soul! All the promises in the Book of Mormon and the promises given by the living prophets today will be fulfilled because He is God and cannot lie. Even in these turbulent times, we know that things will be OK if we follow the teachings learned from the Book of Mormon and the living prophets. Once we learn about an attribute of Christ, such as the one recognized by the brother of Jared, we should work to implement it in our own life.Amazing insight, eh? I never thought of it that way.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I was reading in Mosiah 3 this morning, and I realized that the message that the angel brought to King Benjamin is really quite Christmas-y! We read of all the angels who brought glad tidings of great joy to many saints in the decades leading up to Christ's birth, and this is certainly one of them! Here is part of that message:
3) And he said unto me: Awake, and hear the words which I shall tell thee; for behold, I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy.Also, I think this is what I need to focus on more at Christmas time.... the actual mission of our Savior, not just His miraculous birth. The true joy of celebrating His birth is in remembering His Atonement and Resurrection, and the marvelous gifts He has made available to us.
4) For the Lord hath heard thy prayers, and hath judged of thy righteousness, and hath sent me to declare unto thee that thou mayest rejoice; and that thou mayest declare unto thy people, that they may also be filled with joy.
5) For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
6) And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.
7) And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
8) And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.
9) And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.
10) And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
A few of my favorite quotes:
There is no greater evidence of the infinite power and perfection of God’s love than is declared by the Apostle John: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16)....Think how it must have grieved our Heavenly Father to send His Son to endure incomprehensible suffering for our sins. That is the greatest evidence of His love for each of us!God loves us so much that He gave us laws and the ability to choose to obey them or not. If we choose wisely, we can become as He is.
God’s love is so perfect that He lovingly requires us to obey His commandments because He knows that only through obedience to His laws can we become perfect, as He is. For this reason, God’s anger and His wrath are not a contradiction of His love but an evidence of His love.
The effect of God’s commandments and laws is not changed to accommodate popular behavior or desires. If anyone thinks that godly or parental love for an individual grants the loved one license to disobey the law, he or she does not understand either love or law.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
In the two years since my wife and I have been married (and especially in the last two months since we've been joined by our little one), I have learned more (and struggled more) about becoming unselfish, loving unconditionally, and finding what it takes to be a real man.
I invite you to read this talk by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, given at a recent Congress of Families in Amsterdam.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
"Can you imagine how I felt when finally I could see that if I followed whatever conditions the Redeemer had set, I need never endure the agony of being spiritually unclean?"
That was a very interesting take on it! I had never really thought of that as a motivation for living right-- to avoid the agony of sin! I guess I have longed for that at times, but I never really thought of it that way-- it's a very real blessing of the Atonement.
He closed with this beautiful poem that he wrote:
In ancient times the cry "Unclean!"May we all seek to be washed clean through the tremendous Atoning sacrifice of our Savior.
Would warn of lepers near.
"Unclean! Unclean!" the words rang out;
Then all drew back in fear,
Lest by the touch of lepers' hands
They, too, would lepers be.
There was no cure in ancient times,
Just hopeless agony.
No soap, no balm, no medicine
Could stay disease or pain.
There was no salve, no cleansing bath,
To make them well again.
But there was One, the record shows,
Whose touch could make them pure;
Could ease their awful suffering,
Their rotting flesh restore.
His coming long had been foretold.
Signs would precede His birth.
A Son of God to woman born,
With power to cleanse the earth.
The day He made ten lepers whole,
The day He made them clean,
Well symbolized His ministry
And what His life would mean.
However great that miracle,
This was not why He came.
He came to rescue every soul
From death, from sin, from shame.
For greater miracles, He said,
His servants yet would do,
To rescue every living soul,
Not just heal up the few.
Though we're redeemed from mortal death,
We still can't enter in
Unless we're clean, cleansed every whit,
From every mortal sin.
What must be done to make us clean
We cannot do alone.
The law, to be a law, requires
A pure one must atone.
He taught that justice will be stayedIf we could only understand
Till mercy's claim be heard
If we repent and are baptized
And live by every word. . . .
All we have heard and seen,
We'd know there is no greater gift
Than those two words--"Washed clean!"
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Recently, in a stake conference, all present were invited by the visiting authority, Elder Glen Jenson, an Area Seventy, to take a virtual tour of their homes using their spiritual eyes. I would like to invite each of you to do this also. Wherever your home may be and whatever its configuration, the application of eternal gospel principles within its walls is universal. Let’s begin. Imagine that you are opening your front door and walking inside your home. What do you see, and how do you feel? Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? Is it clean and orderly? As you walk through the rooms of your home, do you see uplifting images which include appropriate pictures of the temple and the Savior? Is your bedroom or sleeping area a place for personal prayer? Is your gathering area or kitchen a place where food is prepared and enjoyed together, allowing uplifting conversation and family time? Are scriptures found in a room where the family can study, pray, and learn together? Can you find your personal gospel study space? Does the music you hear or the entertainment you see, online or otherwise, offend the Spirit? Is the conversation uplifting and without contention? That concludes our tour. Perhaps you, as I, found a few spots that need some “home improvement”—hopefully not an “extreme home makeover.”How does your home do with this "spiritual tour"? There are a few things my wife and I need to tweak... but all in all, we're trying hard and doing pretty well!
I really need to make the temple a bigger part of my life-- of my routine. By so doing, I will be blessed with a greater measure of the Spirit of the Lord, and me and my family will also be blessed with protection-- temporal and spiritual.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Against all odds and with none to help or uphold Him, Jesus of Nazareth, the living Son of the living God, restored physical life where death had held sway and brought joyful, spiritual redemption out of sin, hellish darkness and despair. With faith in the God He knew was there, He could say in triumph, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
... because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, “I will not leave you comfortless. [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
A friend of mine recently wrote to me, confiding that he was having a difficult time keeping his testimony strong and vibrant. He asked for counsel.I love these truths. We should always be in the process of being born again, of becoming more Christlike-- if we think we're finished, then we've got a lot further to go than we think! We need to make the small, simple choices day after day that will fortify us and our families in the long run. Simply stated, we need to endure to the end.
I wrote back to him and lovingly suggested a few specific things he could do that would align his life more closely with the teachings of the restored gospel. To my surprise, I heard back from him only a week later. The essence of his letter was this: “I tried what you suggested. It didn’t work. What else have you got?”
Brothers and sisters, we have to stay with it. We don’t acquire eternal life in a sprint—this is a race of endurance. We have to apply and reapply the divine gospel principles. Day after day we need to make them part of our normal life.
Too often we approach the gospel like a farmer who places a seed in the ground in the morning and expects corn on the cob by the afternoon. When Alma compared the word of God to a seed, he explained that the seed grows into a fruit-bearing tree gradually, as a result of our “faith, and [our] diligence, and patience, and long-suffering.” It’s true that some blessings come right away: soon after we plant the seed in our hearts, it begins to swell and sprout and grow, and by this we know that the seed is good. From the very moment we set foot upon the pathway of discipleship, seen and unseen blessings from God begin to attend us.
But we cannot receive the fulness of those blessings if we “neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment.”
Knowing that the seed is good is not enough. We must “nourish it with great care, that it may get root.” Only then can we partake of the fruit that is “sweet above all that is sweet, and . . . pure above all that is pure” and “feast upon this fruit even until [we] are filled, that [we] hunger not, neither shall [we] thirst.”
Discipleship is a journey. We need the refining lessons of the journey to craft our character and purify our hearts. By patiently walking in the path of discipleship, we demonstrate to ourselves the measure of our faith and our willingness to accept God’s will rather than ours.
It is not enough merely to speak of Jesus Christ or proclaim that we are His disciples. It is not enough to surround ourselves with symbols of our religion. Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessings of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. And yet for some, “spectator discipleship” is a preferred if not a primary way of worshipping.
Ours is not a secondhand religion. We cannot receive the blessings of the gospel merely by observing the good that others do. We need to get off the sidelines and practice what we preach.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Whenever I read the middle chapters of Mosiah, I am always in awe of Abinadi. This guy was amazing! He gave his life as a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel-- when he was threatened because of the words he taught, he did not back down, and did not shy away. How many times do we in our own lives shy away from our covenants because of what other people say? Abinadi stood up for the truth, when nobody else would. What a wonderful example of faith and courage!
Abinadi boldly testified of Christ to a group that didn't believe in Him. The wicked king and his priests lived how they wanted, and professed to believe that salvation came through the law of Moses (which they certainly did not keep). But Abinadi had this to say:
Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God. For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?
Therefore, if ye teach the law of Moses, also teach that it is a shadow of those things which are to come— teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father. (Mosiah 15:11-12, 16:14-15)
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.These words of King Benjamin are jam-packed with hope! Not only are the righteous "immediately" blessed by the Lord (see Mosiah 2:24) with temporal and spiritual blessings, but, if they endure to the end, they are brought back to Heavenly Father's presence in a state of never-ending happiness.
Doesn't that sound so awesome?
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Anyway, I was just impressed by his thoughts on what he was writing. Check this out:
And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. (2 Ne. 33:10)It's amazing what Nephi recommends for the Book of Mormon skeptic: believe in Christ. If you do, then there's no way you can deny what the Book of Mormon teaches, because it is the word of Christ.
What does the Book of Mormon teach? It teaches all men that they should do good. That's what Christ taught (and did). What a wonderful message.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
On the other hand, we know fully well what the Lord's work is (see Moses 1:39). He wants to bring as many people as possible to be where He is. He wants us to be with Him. He wants us to share in His joy and His blessings. He wants us to be like Him, to be with Him, and to have what He has. It shouldn't surprise me, I guess, but God and the devil have completely opposite goals. I guess it's just never hit me quite so hard.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
A reporter for the Washington Post visited one of our Church meetings in Nigeria. The reporter interviewed one new member and told of his conversion. The reporter states:
“[He] said . . . he jumped off a city bus and walked into the [LDS Church building]. . . . He immediately liked what he heard inside [the chapel], especially that no one preached that people of other faiths were going to hell.” This echoes the feeling of numerous converts to the Church since its organization.
Our leaders have consistently counseled us “to live with respect and appreciation for those not of our faith. There is so great a need for civility and mutual respect among those of differing beliefs and philosophies.”
It is equally important that we be loving and kind to members of our own faith, regardless of their level of commitment or activity. The Savior has made it clear that we are not to judge each other. This is especially true of members of our own families. Our obligation is to love and teach and never give up.
I need to be more kind to everybody. I am really quick to judge--not so much those of other faiths, but those of my own who don't seem to be doing all they can. But it's not my place to judge; I just need to show unconditional love and charity, and do my best to make sure I'm keeping my own covenants.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
We need strong Christians who can persevere against hardship, who can sustain hope through tragedy, who can lift others by their example and their compassion, and who can consistently overcome temptations. We need strong Christians who can make important things happen by their faith and who can defend the truth of Jesus Christ against moral relativism and militant atheism.
In the covenant path we find a steady supply of gifts and help. "Charity never faileth" (1 Corinthians 13:8; Moroni 7:46), love begets love, compassion begets compassion, virtue begets virtue, commitment begets loyalty, and service begets joy. We are part of a covenant people, a community of Saints who encourage, sustain, and minister to one another. As Nephi explained, "And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them" (1 Nephi 17:3).
Divine covenants make strong Christians. I urge each one to qualify for and receive all the priesthood ordinances you can and then faithfully keep the promises you have made by covenant. In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact. Then you can ask in faith, nothing wavering, according to your need, and God will answer. He will sustain you as you work and watch. In His own time and way He will stretch forth his hand to you, saying, "Here am I."
I need to go to the temple MUCH more. I need to hold ever more tightly to my covenants, nothing wavering (especially when times get tough). Then and only then will I qualify for the Lord's aid and the presence of the Holy Ghost. Then and only then will I be happy.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
There aren't too many authors that come so highly recommended by the Savior Himself. He told the Nephites:
...ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah. For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles. And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake. (3 Nephi 23:1-3)
That's quite the endorsement. Must be pretty important!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
My Grandpa, Eugene Reeser Ludwig, passed away last week. It didn't really come as a huge surprise, as he'd been ill for quite some time. But I came to discover over the following few days that I missed him a lot.
Grandpa was a great man. He joined the Church sometime in the late 60's (I think), having been introduced to it by his father, who was always searching for the true Gospel of Christ. I remember Grandpa never passed up the opportunity to share his testimony. We would be sitting at his house, just chatting, and somehow (quite fittingly) the topic always tied in with the truthfulness of the Gospel. Granpda would say things like, "You can do what you want, try to live how you want, but the truth is the Gospel is true, whether you like it or not," or, "The fact is the Church is true, no matter what." That always stood out to me--he had unwavering faith, always teaching me that Christ is the rock, the sure foundation, even (or especially) when all the world is sinking.
My grandpa was hilarious. He loved to laugh and have fun; in my mind I can still hear him burst into his explosive (and contagious) laugh! This man could make you smile.
The funeral was a fantastic experience. We had some great talks, heard some great great things about my grandpa. About halfway through, my cousin Laura got up and read different memories of grandpa the family had written. After the first couple, I just started bawling. I didn't get to submit one, but I'd like to now:
It was Christmas Eve, when I was like ten or so. My family was at Grandpa and Grandma's house, and it was getting late. Grandma said to Grandpa, "We have to get to bed, Gene. We've gotta get up at seven to go watch the grandkids open gifts." Grandpa just exploded! "SEVEN in the MORNING? For WHAT?! To drive all over town watching kids open presents? Well, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!" We all cracked up, and he did too. But I think he still had to get up early....
This is what I miss-- spending memorable times with my grandpa, hearing how much he loved us and how much he loved the Lord. I found myself wishing I had spent more time with him, especially as I got older. I found myself wondering if he really knew that I loved him. I'm sure he rightly assumed so, but I asked myself if I had ever done anything or said anything to him that really showed him how grateful I was for him. Did he know that I loved him?
I love you, Grandpa. Sorry if it comes a little late. Just wanted to let you know.
Here's a copy of the obituary:
Eugene (Gene) Ludwig 1926 ~ 2009 Eugene (Gene) Reeser Ludwig passed away Wednesday morning, May 6, 2009 after a long battle with Parkinson's diease and cancer at the age of 82.
He was born to Alma Viola Reeser and Roy Bowers Ludwig on September 1, 1926 in Yellowhouse, PA. He enlisted in the Navy during World War II and served as a gun loader aboard the USS Vicksburg at Iwo Jima. In 1951 he joined the Air Force and served one year in Korea. Gene spent most of his life in the northeast, primarily in Pennsylvania and Massachusettes. He married Elizabeth Hoffman in 1966, was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the following year. Their marriage was later solomnized in the Salt Lake Temple.
As his family grew and migrated west, he followed them to Utah to be closer to grandchildren. He enjoyed watching them grow, marry and have children of their own. He could often be seen at sporting events, concerts and recitals supporting and loving his family, which was his greatest joy. Gene also enjoyed a good laugh. In his last few years, he could often be found at the Payson Senior Center playing pool or cards and telling stories, which provided needed relief and joy.
He was an active member of the church and served in many callings. Gene loved the gospel and shared it with everyone and anyone who would listen. He often reflected on his service as a Seventy and the many opportunities he had to testify of the Savior and of the restored Gospel. In 1996, Gene and Betty were called and served faithfully as a senior couple in the Nebraska, Omaha Mission. He loved to teach and until recently served as the instructor in his senior family home evening group.
Gene was preceded in death by his daughter, Beth Ann, his son Mark and his grandaughter, Becca. He is survived by his wife Betty of Payson, sisters Betty Jane Moser of Carlisle, Pa and Ella McLaughlin of York, Pa and children Karl (Diana) of Stevens, PA, Marie (Dean) Miller of Payson, Raye (Gary) Yarn of Pleasant Grove, Faye (Shane) Cunningham of Medford, OR, Charles of Cedar Hills, Fred (Patty) of Maize, KS and Bruce (Louann) of Myerstown, PA and along with 31 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Gene was loved by his family and friends and will be greatly missed. May God bless and keep you until we meet again.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
...for both debt and addiction, the hopeful solution is the same—we must turn to the Lord and follow His commandments. We must want more than anything else to change our lives so that we can break the cycle of debt and our uncontrolled wants.
When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, “We can’t afford it, even though we want it!” or “We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!”And here's the kicker:
In seeking to overcome debt and addictive behaviors, we should remember that addiction is the craving of the natural man, and it can never be satisfied. It is an insatiable appetite. When we are addicted, we seek those worldly possessions or physical pleasures that seem to entice us. But as children of God, our deepest hunger and what we should be seeking is what the Lord alone can provide—His love, His sense of worth, His security, His confidence, His hope in the future, and assurance of His love, which brings us eternal joy.
We must want, more than anything else, to do our Heavenly Father’s will and providently provide for ourselves and others. We must say, as did King Lamoni’s father, “I will give away all my sins to know thee” (Alma 22:18). Then we can go to Him with steadfast determination and promise Him, “I will do whatever it takes.”This talk is definitely one I needed to hear (just ask my wife!). Though we have mostly avoided large, unnecessary debt (we don't even have a credit card!), I have a hard time avoiding smaller (but equally unnecessary) purchases. So this council is something that can really help me; I never really thought that buying excessive amounts of DVDs or techno-toys I don't need can really take away my agency (or willpower to avoid such purchases), and can draw me away from the Savior. But it's true; in fact, as Elder Hales notes, the scriptures say:
Through prayer, fasting, obedience to the commandments, priesthood blessings, and His atoning sacrifice, we will feel His love and power in our lives. We will receive His spiritual guidance and strength through the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Only through our Lord’s Atonement can we obtain a mighty change of heart (see Mosiah 5:2; Alma 5:14) and experience a mighty change in our addictive behavior.
Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted. (2 Nephi 9:51)So I guess what I'm taking from this is I need to be more careful with not just my money, but my slight obsession with temporal things. I don't always (or maybe ever) need to have the newest, the fastest, the coolest. Leading a simple life can open the mind to the whisperings of the Spirit.
Monday, April 27, 2009
This morning I was reading in 1 Nephi (in the Book of Mormon) and I came across this little gem in chapter 17, verse 13:
And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.Awesome stuff. For those of you who don't know, this is Nephi writing, a prophet-historian from about 600 B.C., as he and his family are journeying from Jerusalem to the promised land (or the Americas, as they most certainly were not known as then). It's always very inspiring to me to read of Nephi's courage and faith when it comes to certain commandments from the Lord that must have seemed daunting. Just like in 1 Ne. 3:7, he always shows a willingness to do whatever the Lord asks, because he knows that God won't leave us hanging; He will prepare a way for us to fulfill His commands.
Basically this verse is kinda helping bring the thought home that God is always there for us, ready to direct us to the happiness He has in store. Though the road may seem dark, or the sea may seem to stretch out forever, we need not fear; we're in good hands... the best hands.
Anyway, just so you know, this will be a place where I will post uplifting spiritual thoughts, mostly centered around my religion. You should probably know that I am grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called "Mormons"). Whether you share my views or not, you're welcome to stop by and hopefully share something that inspired you.