Reaching for the Higher Hanging Fruit

Click here for Table of Contents

Elder Neal A. Maxwell used the image of a fruit ladened-tree to illustrate an important point that church members need to ponder on often:

“Happily, many of us have already picked and been greatly nourished by the low-hanging fruit from the gospel tree. Yet, on the higher branches, much fruit still remains, unreached for and unplucked.” Neal Maxwell; Whom the Lord Loveth P 7-8.

This clever analogy turns our thoughts to the importance of fully embracing gospel principles versus a partial embrace. After reading this, I can’t help but think of the awful arithmetic used in the parable of the Ten Virgins—50% failed to qualify to enter the wedding feast.

Properly exercising faith is the key to receiving the companionship of the Holy Ghost and the gifts of the Spirit. Following are some ideas on how to increase faith so that we will be able to reach for and pluck the higher hanging fruit.         Continue reading

Posted in Book: Alive in Christ | Leave a comment

“I Will Show Miracles…Unto all Those Who Believe on My Name”

The prophet Nephi wrote and prophesied about our day. He referred to us as Gentiles and said that we would “put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning… (2 Nephi 26:20).

Unfortunately, I think we are living in that day. But at the same time we live in a day where God’s miracles are available to those with faith. I believe all men and women have access to miracles at some level, be of whatever faith they may. However, Latter Day Saints have been given additional access to miracles because of the restoration of the gospel. We are eligible to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (if we seek diligently for it). In addition, we have the priesthood, restored by angelic messengers.

Miracles Follow Those Who Believe

There are two kinds of miracles according to Elder Dallin H. Oaks: Continue reading

Posted in Miracles, Spiritual Experiences | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Barriers to Increasing Faith

Click Here for the Table of Contents

Often, children teach their parents about barriers to faith. I recall a story that illustrates this. Years ago in Arizona, church members were asked to fast and pray to exercise their faith so that Heavenly Father would bring relief to a drought that threatened the harvest. It hadn’t rained for a long time. A husband and wife saw the faith of their young daughter in action as they prepared to leave for church. As they were backing out of  their driveway, their daughter said, “stop the car daddy, I forgot my umbrella”. It was a hot sunny day, not a cloud in sight, but the little girl’s faith was focused on the purpose of the fast. She didn’t want to be without an umbrella. This is an example of the unbridled faith of a child. As adults, we need to relearn this kind of faith. 

The purpose of this chapter is to discuss those things that inhibit faith. I think all of us, to one degree or another, have barriers to increasing our faith. Some barriers we’re aware of other we don’t see. 

The Lord taught David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, about barriers to increasing faith: Continue reading

Posted in Book: Alive in Christ | Leave a comment

Our Gift to the Savior

In a few days, Christians around the world will remember the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As I thought about what to write for December’s Post, I made a list of topics. As I studied the list, I asked myself a question: which topic would be the Savior’s favorite?

The following scriptures came to mind.

“my blood shall not cleanse them if they hear me not.” D&C 29:17

“Thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior.” D&C 19:31 Continue reading

Posted in Jesus Christ, Repentance | Leave a comment

Ripening in Iniquity?

The Book of Mormon uses the term “ripening” to describe what happens to a righteous people when they begin to forget God and turn to wickedness.    

For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.  Helaman 5:2

Those who believe the Book of Mormon to be the revealed word of God are concerned that  this great Gentile nation, the promised land—America, is in peril.  

As a nation, are we at a tipping point, are those who choose evil more numerous than those who choose good? 

I don’t know the answer to this question with certainty, but as I take in the daily news, and consider T.V. and movie entertainment, I worry. When I turn my attention to the political landscape and listen to the discourse of our nations appointed and elected leaders, I cringe. Continue reading

Posted in Trials | Leave a comment

Quickened by a Portion of the Celestial, Terrestrial, or Telestial Glory

My goal is to write about those things that will help each of us draw nearer to the lord. The Lord said, “draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.” With that purpose in mind I would like to explore the following scripture.

They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.

Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.

And they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. Continue reading

Posted in Things of the Spirit | 1 Comment

Are You Blown Away by Church History?

I remember when I first became aware of the challenging aspects of church history, the Mountain Meadows massacre, details of polygamy, problems with the Book of Abraham, multiple accounts of the first vision, and etc. I felt doubt stirring in my mind and heart. It was painful, but short lived. I’ll explain more about this later. 

On reflection, I realized I had made some assumptions about the church, and church leaders that turned out to be flat wrong. I had assumed the Lord’s appearing to Joseph Smith meant the Lord was there 24/7 guiding the restoration. Consequently there could be no imperfections in the establishment of the church, or in the lives of those who carried the work forward, therefore church history should be uncomplicated and without error, blemish, or mistakes. 

Apparently, I’m not the only church member to have put former day church leaders and church members on a high pedestal. Today, I wonder why I entertained such notions.

I was a student of the scriptures and understood the difficulties the Savior had with His hand picked apostles. The Book of Mormon’s first family, Lehi, his wife Sariah, and their children certainly couldn’t have contributed to my naive ideal. They were a prophet lead dysfunctional family. Continue reading

Posted in Doubt, LDS Church History | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Unanswered Prayers

Since coming to the internet over ten ago, I’ve read many post and comments where writers relate that they are active members, keep the commandments well enough to maintain a temple recommend, read the Book of Mormon, prayed about it, and still haven’t received a witness of its truthfulness by the power of the Holy Ghost as promised.

Here is an example of one brother stating his frustration:

I have been in the Church my whole life for 40+ years. I served a mission. I married in the temple. I have served in numerous callings. I have always had a temple recommend with all that that implies. I have probably read the Book of Mormon at least 15 times, including in at least 2 languages. I have followed Moroni’s promise probably at least 100 times, with all sincerity. Yet, at the end of it all, I have never received an answer that it is true… Yet, probably out of inertia and a hope that someday I will get an answer, I persist in the journey and am still “active”.

I’ve been troubled by these “testimonies”. The Lord has given us the scriptures to help us deal with the issues we encounter in life. When I turn to the scripture looking for possible answers, I find the following. Please add to my list anything that helps you understand this issue. Continue reading

Posted in Book of Mormon, Prayer, Precepts of Men, Testimony of the Book of Mormon | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How Long Halt Ye Between Two Opinions?

My goal as a blogger is to write about those things that will help each of us draw nearer to the lord. The Lord said, “draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.” With that image in mind I would like to discuss the following scripture.

And Elijah…said, How long halt ye between two opinions?  if the LORD be God, follow him… 1 Kings 18:21

Halting between two opinions, or being double minded (James 1:8) is part of the makeup of the natural man.  To one degree or another each of us struggles with it. Laman and Lamuel, Nephite’s older brothers, provide numerous examples of this undesirable quality. They would cycle from obedience to rebellion over and over again until the Lord finally warned Nephi to depart from them.

The Book of Mormon also provides a counter example, showing those who were firm in their faith, and “would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin”. Using the descendants of the vacillating Laman and Lamuel, the Book of Mormon gives an account of the Lamanities who were converted by the four sons of Mosiah. Of those converts the record says: “once they were converted unto the Lord, they never did fall away” (Alma 23:6-7). Continue reading

Posted in Repentance | Leave a comment

Recognizing Answers To Prayer

The purpose of prayer is to access things of the spirit. We are repeatedly taught in the scripture that the Lord will answer our prayers. Receiving and recognizing answers to our prayers is the topic of this post.

Like many of you reading this post, I have had many prayers answered.[1] Therefore, I am familiar with the workings of the spirit. It takes time and experience to grow in our ability to recognize answers. Based on my experiences, most prayers are answered by the subtle workings of the spirit.[2] However, these soft, delicate answers can be misinterpreted.[3] The solution to this problem is to cry unto the Lord for help, asking to know his will and avoid mistakes. Notice the use of the word “cry”[4]. If you think that crying unto the Lord is a little over the top, then I suggest you read more carefully from the scriptures. The scriptures portray the prophets frequenting “crying unto the Lord” to gain answers to their prayers.

I believe the Lord is anxious to answer our prayers and to teach us of His ways, however, we are required to obey the law upon which blessings are predicated.

There are many ways to improve our ability to receive and recognize answers to our prayers. I would like to offer the following ideas that I believe are essential to opening the channels of communication between ourselves and Heavenly Father. Continue reading

Posted in Prayer | Leave a comment