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We sing of Zion’s beauty in the beloved hymn:

Zion, Zion, lovely Zion;
Beautiful Zion;
Zion, city of our God![i]

What we could say of Zion, the priesthood society, we could say of Zion, the people: Zion is beautiful! Whether Zion is an individual, a marriage, a family, or a priesthood community, Zion is “the perfection of beauty,” where “God hath shined.”[ii]

The Book of Mormon prophet Abinadi spoke of Zion’s beauty in his last discourse when his life was hanging in the balance. The wicked priests of King Noah could have threatened Abinadi with any number subject, but amazingly, they chose the subject of the beautiful ones, those whose beautiful feet convey the gospel message. Continue Reading »

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Have you ever been in an argument and didn’t know how to make up? Have you said things that you regret and wished you could take back? Have you been hurt by someone and didn’t know how to let go of the grudge?

I loved my first companion, but when I was transferred, I was stuck with an older missionary who was my exact opposite. We had nothing in common and little to say to each other. He was structured and strict. When we rode our bikes through Mendoza, Argentina, he would whistle for me, as if I were his dog. How does anyone get along with a guy like that?

I didn’t even try.

He made me so mad that I began to employ a strategy that I had learned as a teenager: The Silent Treatment.  I would show him. If he wanted the privilege of my company, he would have to mend his ways, otherwise, SILENCE. A mature approach, don’t you think?

Of course, the Lord’s work suffered; in fact, the work ground to a halt. But I wasn’t going to give in. After all, I had my pride. Pride—the common denominator of all contention. If I gave an inch, I would lose the battle and he would win. No, even if I was wrong, I would remain immovable. No matter what, I wouldn’t utter a syllable. All he would get from me was silence.

Pretty juvenile, but all of us know juveniles who masquerade as adults. Finally, someone had to do something, but that person wasn’t going to be me. My companion proved to be the adult in the relationship. One day, I awakened to see him dressed in his suit, sitting on a stool in the corner of our apartment, shining my shoes! My stubbornness melted and my heart softened. We started talking again, and we went back to work. Continue Reading »

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(Parts of this article are from Rescuing Wayward Children. Click to learn more.)

Some years ago, I had a falling out with a family member. I don’t remember the issue now. (Isn’t it amazing how we can remember a grudge while failing to remember the particulars that led to the grudge?) We said things to each other that were hurtful, so hurtful, in fact, that the relationship seemed irreparably broken with few pieces left to pick up and start over.

We stomped out of each other’s lives forever. I wouldn’t forgive him; I couldn’t forgive him…but I had to forgive him.

My conscience began to burn, but I dosed it with pride. I wasn’t going to give in. After all, it was his fault, wasn’t it? Family members made attempts to mediate, but I stubbornly held onto my anger. Have you ever observed that you have to feed anger or it will die? I fed my anger by reliving the event, each time inflating his actions and diminishing mine.

With each retelling, I became more of a saint and he became a worse sinner. Looking back, I realize that I became a good storyteller during that period of time. I became so adept at storytelling that I could create any reality that I desired. I could even manage to convince myself to believe my story, despite the fact that much of it wasn’t true.

Huckleberry Finn observed that you can’t live a lie, but for over a year, I tried my best to live a lie. I am grateful that the Holy Ghost doesn’t give up as easily as I do. He quietly continued to nag me to see things as they really are and let go of my pride. I resisted. One of my strategies was to try to ignore the incident, as if it might evaporate. You know, out of sight, out of mind. But that didn’t work any better than trying to live a lie.

Finally, I realized that I had to do something or I would never feel relief. But I didn’t know what to do. That was when the Holy Ghost opened a door of opportunity. Continue Reading »

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Abraham lived in a world much like ours: a world that was thick in iniquity. He learned this fact early in his life when he nearly became a victim of the barbaric practice of parents offering their children as sacrifices to heathen gods.

Confessing that he was a stranger and a pilgrim on the earth, Abraham desired to find “a better country; that is, an heavenly.”[1] To obtain that “country,” with its attendant covenants, ordinances, priesthood and promises, Abraham set off on a journey that would consume the better part of his life and take him from Ur to Haran to Canaan to Egypt and back to Canaan.

When Abram (later, the Lord changed his name to Abraham) finally returned to Canaan, he was a wealthy man, who oversaw a large household. His nephew, Lot, was likewise wealthy. Their combined abundance made living proximate to each other difficult, because “the land was not able to bear them.”[2] Abram proposed that they divide the land, and he gave Lot the first choice.

It is important to note that Abram and Lot were good men, who had made covenants with God. However, the distance between making a covenant and keeping one is light years. How many couples say yes at the altar but fail to say yes every day thereafter? Continue Reading »

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Few laws are as misunderstood as consecration and stewardship. One thing is certain: Only by living the law of stewardship can we become Zion people and candidates for eternal life.

In the vocabulary of consecration, an agent is a steward.[i] The trust extended to a steward is a stewardship, which, according to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, is a “responsibility given through the Lord to act in behalf of others.” The concept of stewardship reminds us of the principle that “all things ultimately belong to the Lord, whether property, time, talents, families, or capacity for service within the Church organization. An individual acts in a Church calling as a trustee for the Lord, not out of personal ownership or privilege.”

When we receive a stewardship, whether as a calling, a trust, or an inheritance, we are “expected to sacrifice time and talent in the service of others,” which builds “a sense of community. When all serve, all may partake of the blessings of service. The ideal attitude toward stewardship suggests that it is not the position held but how well the work is done that counts.”[ii] One can readily see why stewardship is central to Zion and the law of consecration. Continue Reading »

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The words of the prophets contain powerful counsel and promises. I am constantly intrigued by the fact that they, like the Savior, often use economy of language to convey powerful principles. Sometimes a sentence or two can contain volumes of truth.

Take, for example, President Hinckley’s promise “When you are united, your power is limitless. You can accomplish anything you wish to accomplish” (“Your Greatest Challenge, Mother,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 97).

I wish every parent would post this quote by Marion G. Romney on his child’s wall before the child takes a class on evolution. Continue Reading »

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What do the Biak Tiger, the Bee Hummingbird and the Family all have in common? Each is an endangered species.

My wife, Buffie, and I just added two little grandsons to our expanding family. New life is such a miracle! A microscopic cell, carrying the DNA of the father and the mother, divides then divides again with programming that creates organs, the mind and circulatory system, hands, feet, eyes, nose, mouth, skin and myriad other body parts, all of which combine harmoniously to form a totally unique and independent person. Buffie and I feel incredible joy watching our girls become mothers and our boys become fathers.

Sometimes we stand back and wonder how we could be so blessed. In 1972, I was twenty-one and Buffie was nineteen, when we knelt at an altar in the Salt Lake Temple and made eternal vows to each other and to God. That beginning has now become a little kingdom with ten children. Seven married in temples, adding spouses to our family, and together, they have produced seventeen grandchildren. Thirty-six lives are now connected because of Buffie’s and my initial decision to marry and start a family.

And we are just getting started!

If each of our children and grandchildren average three children each, our posterity could approach 900,000 in the same period that the United States has been an independent nation. My calculator doesn’t have enough digits to calculate the size of our family by the end of the Millennium.

Abraham was promised seed in quantities that would eclipse the number of sands on the seashore or the stars in the heavens. Buffie and I received similar promises when we were married. We stand at the beginning stage of building our “kingdom,” but we are starting to see how those Abrahamic promises will come to pass. Continue Reading »

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For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37).

I have many reasons to be grateful. This year I am remembering the astounding miracle of the Lord’s saving my son from AIDS and kidney failure.

On April 1, 1990, my wife and I rushed our fifteen-year old son, Matt, to the hospital because he was bleeding internally. The next day we were told that he had end-stage renal disease. Kidney failure. For an unknown reason his kidneys had stopped functioning. Continue Reading »

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Sister Nephi

One of my heroes in the Book of Mormon is the woman who married Nephi. I wish I knew her name and more about her. Nephi, like other prophets, points out that his record is limited to his ministry, revelations, teachings and testimony.[1] Imagine a bishop’s record of his ministry. We probably wouldn’t learn much about his family. From time to time, Nephi infers that there are other journals that probably detail family matters, so he resists redundancy and touches on those things only as they support the purpose of this particular record.

What I do know of Sister Nephi tells me that she, like Rebekah of old, was a woman of extraordinary courage and faith. There is no way that Isaac or Nephi could have carried the tremendous weight of their ministries without the love and support of their equally strong and faithful wives. We could learn valuable lessons from these sisters. I am writing this article for my children and grandchildren with the hope that they will seek a to marry a spouse who possesses these qualities, which I found in my eternal sweetheart. Continue Reading »

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Have you ever felt that oppression is your eternal companion and that you will never be rid of it? You might wonder, where is deliverance? You watch other people prosper, buy homes, enjoy good health, have babies. But you are stuck.

My friend has been stuck for several years. When Job’s friends struggled to guess why their once-prosperous associate had lost everything and was now consigned to live on the outskirts of the city in the refuse dump, they determined that such oppression could only be the result of Job’s bad choices. Continue Reading »

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