This blog shares my ongoing study of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and my studies draw from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, as well as teachings of LDS Church leaders past and present, many of which are prophets and apostles. This site is not an official representation of Latter-day Saint doctrine and practice. For official sites, please visit or

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Realize Your Full Potential

I thought I'd share a few excerpts from a talk given in the October 2003 General Conference entitled Realize Your Full Potential by Elder Richard G. Scott. The talk is mainly for the youth but the following quotes certainly apply to us all.

"With all my capacity I encourage you to discover who you really are. I invite you to look beyond the daily routine of life. I urge you to discern through the Spirit your divinely given capacities. I exhort you to prayerfully make worthy choices that will lead you to realize your full potential."

"When you push against the boundaries of experience into the twilight of the unknown, the Lord will strengthen you. The beauty of your eternal soul will begin to unfold."

"Realize your full potential. Be the leader and example the Lord expects you to be. ... God loves you. I testify that as you seek His help, He will guide you to fulfill your worthy dreams..."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Blessings of Scripture Study

Each time I rekindle my efforts to seriously study the scriptures I feel better. President Kimball said, "I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns."

Elder D. Todd Christofferson reminds us that the scriptures do all of the following:
  1. Enlarge our memory
  2. Empower us to distinguish between truth and error
  3. Fill our souls with faith in God the Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ
Certainly desirable things! If we have forgotten how we came to obtain a testimony, scripture study will remind us. If we struggle to identify right from wrong, the scriptures will clear it up. If we feel far from our Heavenly Father and His Son, studying the scriptures will narrow the gap. I gladly add my witness that studying the scriptures blesses us in these specific ways.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Is the Gospel Working for Me?

I was struck this morning in my studies by the phrase "by faith all things are fulfilled." I believe this statement is easily supported. Nothing is accomplished, spiritual or secular, without some faith that what is being pursued will be fruitful and worthwhile. We wouldn't even reach for a light switch if we didn't think flipping it would turn on the lights. Nor would we rely on a single vehicle day after day to get us to work if we didn't think it would actually function once we turned the key in the ignition. We rely on these things habitually, because they work, time after time after time. Sometimes they break, but once fixed, they will usually function again for another long while.

We need to recognize that faith in Jesus Christ likewise produces fruit time and time and time again. Like flipping the light switch for light in a room, studying the words of Christ brings the Spirit into our hearts, sometimes subtly, sometimes powerfully, and probably more immediately than we realize. A great difference here is that this light switch never breaks. We can rely on God's word more than any man-made device.

At times we question whether or not the gospel is working for us. We continue flipping the switches and turning the keys in the ignition, but get seemingly minimal response. It may be useful to ask oneself the following question in such a case - "Am I secretly wanting to get minimal response?" Why would anyone want to get minimal response? Sadly, if we feel justified in disbelieving the gospel (because it apparently doesn't work), we can then easily justify any thought or action that is not in harmony with it. We unfortunately are not always willing to receive the fruits of gospel-living. An individual in this position has been duped! They have fallen for that great lie that tells us to rely on ourselves and ourselves alone (especially our natural desires) and not on a Heavenly Father that seems to ask so much of us. This is true tragedy and cannot bring us happiness.

I believe the first step in coming out of such deception is to be reminded of how good the fruits of the gospel truly are, and this reminder can come in many different forms. The next step is to try the word again and find that such fruit is actually within our reach, and that it tastes better than anything else we've sought after in life. Finally, one continues to pursue and enjoy and appreciate anew the blessings of living the gospel, to the point that they cannot help but share them with others.

The gospel works. Sometimes we just need to remember that our greatest desire actually is the fruit it brings.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Overcoming Selfishness With Service

One of our strongest temptations in this life is to put ourselves first - to look out for "number one." We become convinced that the only way we'll be happy is if we're getting what we want. However, we have centuries of history and our own personal experiences that beg to tell us differently. When have we or anyone else found a lasting and peace-producing joy through acting selfishly?

Christ taught, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" I will not attempt to interpret what the Savior meant by losing our soul but I think we have all felt our soul diminished when we have acted selfishly. Conversely, I know I have felt my soul magnified when I have acted out of love for another, placing his or her needs before my own.

I remember one day arriving at work in a rather bad mood. I don't remember what I was concerned about, but I must have been entertaining some kind of fear great or small (are all bad moods tied to a form of fear? I think so...). I thought to myself, "man, I need to help someone because I am worrying way too much about myself right now!" Just then I thought to stop in and see how a coworker was doing. He was doing well but needed some help moving some equipment. That was easily done and I left the room feeling much better! Victory! Bad mood banished.

This is one of many such experiences I've had getting outside of myself and finding relief from the temptation to be selfish by helping someone else. Chances to do so are all around us! President Dieter F. Uchtdorf emphatically stated, "My dear brethren, there are so many people in need whom we could be thinking about instead of ourselves. And please don't ever forget your own family, your own wife. There are so many ways we could be serving. We have no time to become absorbed in ourselves."

Selfishness creates misery, and is terribly tempting, but can be overcome. Elder Neal A. Maxwell quoted Joseph Smith saying, "Let every selfish feeling be not only buried, but annihilated." We can do so. We need only turn our attentional compass from S to N - "Self" to "Neighbor."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Great Gift of Choice

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. (Henry David Thoreau)

I marvel at the great gift of choice which God has given us and how very much we underestimate it. "Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself...[a]nd because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon..." 

I had a bishop who told us that if we weren't satisfied with our current situation - our job, our education, etc. - that he firmly believed God gave us the power to improve it. I believe that our Father in heaven even expects us to improve it. We are His children and He wants us to be happy. If we leave ourselves in an unhappy situation by our own choosing, surely we are not meeting the purpose of our creation and are burying the talents or opportunities He has given us.

I further believe that when we boldly pursue the things we righteously desire, the heavens acknowledge our efforts and magnify them. A good friend of mine was dissatisfied with his engineering job a few years ago and decided to leave despite no assurance of other employment, and in the midst of a recession. Shortly thereafter he was offered his dream job in Colorado working on dams. He left Salt Lake single and found a wonderful young woman in Denver and is now very happily married and enjoying his job. He exercised the great gift of choice and improved his situation many fold.

I know that our Father loves us and believes in us. Were it not so, He would never have given us the power to choose - to act for ourselves. He knows we can improve our lives through the use of this gift and must watch anxiously for us to do so that He might bless us.

See also "To Act for Ourselves: The Gift and Blessings of Agency," Elder Robert D. Hales, April 2006 Conference Addresses.

(Please feel free to respond to these thoughts in the comments section.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Come Unto Christ by Remembering Him

I find renewed enthusiasm for life and serving others when I make a conscious effort to remember the Savior. Just the thought of Him can lift me and motivate me to do better and to pay more attention to others' needs. This serves as a catalyst for a chain of good events in my life and the life of others. It is no wonder that when we partake of our sacrament we promise on a weekly basis to "always remember Him."

I remember walking to a new class in college years ago and being deeply concerned about my new work and class schedule, wondering how I was going to be able to manage it all, and feeling less and less hopeful and cheerful. Then I thought to think upon the Savior. As I made that effort, my heart lifted, peace and hope returned, and I walked into class quite a different person. That experience taught me of the importance of keeping our promise mentioned above.

I believe that coming unto Christ is often as simple as thinking about Him and that such simple things can have far-reaching effects in our lives. The Prophet Alma taught, "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise."

I wish I could remember the rest of that day back in college. I imagine I encountered someone else who was struggling. I would like to think that I helped them in at least some small way - picking up a dropped paper, smiling, etc. Having had my heart lifted by thoughts of the Savior I am certain I was more cheerful to the people around me and helpful to them than I would have been otherwise.

We can make a lasting impact on the world as we make the effort to come unto Christ by remembering Him throughout our day. President Henry B. Eyring taught that “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.” If we are thinking of Christ when we encounter someone in need we will be able and ready to meet those needs and we will serve them as He would serve them and become more like Him.