What my tongue saith

We look upward, always beyond the mark! Not mediocrity, nor on a level with that which is common, but higher, much higher, above the base and unrestrained. Discipline is required, lest our tongue betray us. Language fit for the gutter defines the man. Come now, we are better than that! If our speech reeks of filth, what of the inner mind? He who would lift others, must first lift himself. He must strive to become “…not of the temporal but of the spiritual, not of the carnal mind but of God.” (1)

Great God, I ask for no meaner pelf
Than that I may not disappoint myself,
That in my action I may soar as high
As I can now discern with this clear eye.

And next in value, which thy kindness lends,
That I may greatly disappoint my friends,
Howe’er they think or hope that it may be,
They may not dream how thou’st distinguished me.

That my weak hand may equal my firm faith
And my life practice what my tongue saith
That my low conduct may not show
Nor my relenting lines
That I thy purpose did not know
Or overrated thy designs. (2)

(1) Alma 36:4
(2) “I ask Thee for no meaner pelf” (Henry David Thoreau)

The efficacy of prayer

jesus-praying-in-gethsemane-39591-galleryCan there be any prayer more beautiful than those we fervently pray, with all the power of our being, not for ourselves, but in behalf of those we love? Such prayers, poured out tearfully from the very depths of our souls, are profound in their simplicity and fervency, and surely pleasing unto the Father.

But we be mere mortals, and as we look to our Great Exemplar, we ask, are there any more beautiful prayers than those which our Lord prayed in behalf of others? The night before His Crucifixion, in what is known as the Great Intercessory Prayer, Jesus prayed for His Apostles and all of the Saints.

“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine…

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word…

that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them” (1)(John 17:9, 20, 26).

Of such, we read in another witness of our Lord and Savior:

“…behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.

And after this manner do they bear record: The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father;

And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.

… and when he had done this he wept” (2)

We shall not in this life pray such a prayer as was His, but we can aspire to such. There will come a time, if it has not already come, when each one of
us will have reason to look pleadingly to Heaven. Are we not better suited for such moments when our hearts are pure and our hands clean? While there is time then, let us avail ourselves of the priceless gift of repentance, that our prayers might avail much as we kneel before Heaven.

When sailing on life’s stormy sea,
‘Mid billows of despair,
‘Tis solace to my soul to know
God hears my secret prayer.

When thorns are strewn along my path,
And foes my feet ensnare,
My Savior to my aid will come,
If sought in secret prayer. (3)

And yet, it be in the providence and mercy of the Lord, that even the sinner in times of trial may be bid back to the path through, and in times of, harsh trial. Let us not suppose that Heaven is not pleased when the sinner repents, and turns from his ways:

“Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,
Returning from his ways,
While angels in their songs rejoice
And cry, “Behold, he prays!” (4)

I bear my humble witness that God hears our every fervent prayer, for He lives! Jesus is the Christ, our Lord and our Redeemer. He loves us, more than words can say. Lovingly, He pleads, “pray always, that I might heal you.” Of this I testify, in His holy name, even Jesus Christ, amen.

1) John 17: 9, 20, 26
2) 3 Nephi: 15-17, 22 The Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ
3) “Secret Prayer” Hans Henry Petersen, 1835-1909
4) “Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire” James Montgomery 1771-1854

Should we not give our all?

Lord Nelson
I am a fervent student of the great men of history. Such a one was the great British Admiral, Horatio Nelson. On 21 October 1805, on the eve of the battle which would save England, Nelson, issued this order: “England expects that every man will do his duty.” He then led the British fleet to victory against the combined French and Spanish fleet. Nelson, who had lost an eye in one battle, and an arm in another, had asked for total commitment, and then led the way, this time laying down his life in the process. Having taken a fatal musket ball, but seeing victory in sight, he exclaimed, “They finally succeeded, I am dead…thank God I have done my duty!” And then as he passed, “God and my country!” He who would be great must do his duty, by giving his all. Should we not be willing to do our duty? Should we not be willing to give our all in every thing we do? Would not our communities and our country be a better place were all to follow suit? We have had so many witnesses! Is there any greater witness than this, as exemplified in the words of the sacred hymn, “And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing, Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in: That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died, to take away my sin…” Ought we not to love Him, with every fiber of our being? Ought we not do our part? Shall we not, in gratitude, and our love for Him, do our duty to Him, and put away our sins? We can do better. We can always do better. We owe Him that much!

My Darling’s Little Shoes

With my dearly beloved sister, Mary Elizabeth Rodriguez in mind, she having given up two of her little ones to Him who loves them more; and to each of you who have lost a little one, I say: as you live, and as I live, and as the Lord lives, if you will live worthy of the privilege, yet shall you hold your little ones in your arms again, never to let them go. You may ask, how is it done? I testify that it is because of Him who “drank of the bitter cup and did not shrink” (1) and was “wounded for our transgressions, and hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” It is because of Him “who was oppressed, and afflicted, and yet opened not his mouth…but was brought as a lamb to the slaughter…” (2) “Charity is the pure love of Christ.” (3) Can there be any greater love than this, that He should lay down his life you and for me? That being so, beyond that, what is greater than the love of a mother and father for their little ones? I say unto you then, that if such is so, He who has borne our sorrows is tenderly, sweetly, and lovingly, disposed to deliver unto us again our little ones, at another time, and in another place, and unto Him be the glory forever and ever, for what will give Him greater joy than to reunite a loving child to grieving parents? Can there be anything more wonderful? Can Heaven be Heaven without such sentiments? Can it be written by any man, or can the heart conceive how great and marvelous are the blessings which God will bestow upon loving and faithful mothers and fathers? Would He deny you of that which you most desire? Oh then, let us be faithful to Him, let us be obedient to His commands, for He loves us more than words can say. He lives, even the Only Begotten of the Father, and of Him, and in His name, even Jesus Christ, I testify, amen.

God bless the little feet that never go astray
For the little shoes are empty in my closet laid away
Some times I take one in my hand, forgetting till I see
It is a little half worn shoe, not large enough for me
And all at once I feel a sense of bitter loss and pain
As sharp as when two years ago it cut my heart in twain.

O the little feet that wearied not, I wait for them no more
For I am drifting on the tide, but they have reach’d the shore
And while the blinding teardrops wet these little shoes so old
I try to think my darling’s feet are treading streets of gold
And as I lay them down again, but always turn to say
God bless her little feet that now, so surely cannot stray.

And while I thus am standing, I almost seem to see
Two little forms beside me just as they used to be
Two little faces lifted with their sweet and tender eyes,
Ah me! I might have known that look was born of Paradise.
I reach my arms out fondly but they clasp the empty air
There is nothing of my darlings but the shoes they used to wear.

O the bitterness of parting I cannot drive away
Till I meet my darlings walking where their feet can never stray
When I no more am drifted upon the surging tide
But with them safely landed upon the riverside.
Be patient, heart, while waiting to see their shining way
For the little feet in the golden street can never go astray. (4)

(1) Doctrine and Covenants 19:18
(2) Isaiah 53: 4, 5, 7
(3) Moroni 7:47, The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ
(4) “My Darling’s Little Shoes” (author anonymous)

How tender His mercy

1017151_10154817769980374_2609664613570714169_n(Grandson James Skola viewing Salt Lake Temple)
Upon entry one is greeted by the words over the door to the temple, “Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord.” The key to entry is a standard which cannot be compromised, as exemplified in the following scripture: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart: who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” (Psalms 24:3, 4)

Those who enter here are taught those things which will prepare them for eternity, through even a greater knowledge of God and Jesus Christ than is taught in the world outside. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3

Here, in this sacred building, covenants are entered into to live a more Christ like life. Such covenants cannot be entered into lightly, for God will not be mocked. This can come not just through simple proclamation of love for Jesus, but rather by letting our very lives reflect that love, through a determined and steadfast desire to follow and keep His commandments, ALL of them, every day, for the remainder of our lives.

In the world marriages, (and marriage is to be sought after) are solemnized with the words, “till death do you part.” In the House of the Lord, we hear instead “for time and all eternity,” for indeed, the scripture the reads, “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11: 11) That which the Lord has ordained transcends time and eternity.

What man, loving his wife, or woman loving her husband, can desire less than that their union last beyond this life? For what is Heaven without family? And what are the tender mercies of a loving God if He will not grant the heart’s noblest desires, of family and home?

So sacred a ceremony can be performed only within the walls of the temple, and only by those with the divine authority to bind or seal on earth that which will be bound in Heaven.

We believe that Christ was foreordained and set apart to be a Savior unto both the living and the dead, and we read that Christ, “who hath…suffered for our sins” (1 Peter 3: 18-20) went and preached the Gospel to those who were dead, “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4:6)

In the House of the Lord is performed an ordinance which was practiced during the time of Paul, for he wrote to the Saints of Corinth: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15: 29) This ordinance has no validity save those for whom the ordinance is performed are accepting of it. In the spirit beyond the grave they may be, but their moral agency is not taken from them.

The ordinances and covenants entered into the House of the Lord testify of how kind, how loving, and how merciful indeed is the Lord Jesus Christ, for His salvation is unto all, not only for the living, but also for those beyond the grave! Indeed, they bear witness of the reality and His atonement for the sins of the living and the dead, and of His resurrection. They testify of His glorious labor, of which He proclaimed anciently, “…for behold this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” ( The Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:39)

As we consider the sacredness of the labors performed therein, how significant then, and how true, the words over the portal of the temple, “Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord.”

The God of this land

Many of us have become fair weather patriots, forgetting the terrible cost paid for the freedoms we enjoy. Today, Godlessness threatens, wherein the majority of good, God fearing men and women, seemingly cower before a small minority who actively oppose the very mention of God in our schools and public places. Fair weather patriots, in that we forget that this country was founded by those who put God first. “In God we trust,” was no mere slogan, but rather a statement of faith. In 1812, when Francis Scott Key wrote his inspired ode to patriotism, he spoke proudly of the Flag, praising the Power which first made, and then preserved us as a nation. We ought pay close attention to the lyrics. Consider the final verse:

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! (1)

Reading these stirring words ought prompt us to remember our duty as freemen and women. Our duty is so to live in our personal lives that we might incur the blessings of Heaven, that we might be fit to act for the preservation of the Christian ideals upon which this nation was founded. Much is at stake here, for so did a prophet of God testify:

“Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ…” (2)

Indeed, much is at stake. Is it not time to look deeply inside ourselves? We remember then this: “…therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.” (3) Yes, we need consider our ways, and where the salve of repentance is needed, we ought apply it sincerely, and with real intent.

(1) Francis Scott Key, The Star Spangled Banner
(2) Ether 12:2 The Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ
(3) Haggai 1:5

Loftiness of purpose in that high office, even the Presidency of the United States


“First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting. . . . Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues. . . . Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.”

This was the homage paid the first President of the United States, George Washington. Admired throughout the world as the Colonial General who had defeated what was then the mightiest military force in the world, the military forces of Great Britain, he could then have assumed a greater power, for there were officers in his army much discontented with the Congress, in that body’s seeming disregard for those engaged in the fighting. To such suggestions, Washington nobly answered, in scathing tone: “Let me conjure you, then, if you have any regard for your country, concern for yourself or posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind, and never communicate, as from your self or anyone else, a sentiment of the like nature.” Would that all men and women elected to, or seeking election to that high office, had so high ideals and regard for their country!

How Can We Know The Way?

We live in a tumultuous time, when wickedness abounds, and confusion reigns. Except drastic changes in morality are made, we are facing a future which government cannot solve, for it is part of the problem. That drastic changes should take place is no frivolous concern; it has become an absolute necessity. Throughout the land, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is spurned, and His teachings rejected. As we have seen, throughout the course of history, the price paid for such rejection has been bloodshed and war.

What is to be done? We can each of us, as individuals, repent of our sins and follies, and determine to make our lives better, that much you and I can do. How do we go about this?

“Thomas saith unto him, Lord…how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (1) In this regard, a beginning step would be to keep holy the Lord’s day, reserving it only for church worship and the carrying out of good deeds.

Indeed, in the Old Testament, Isaiah prophesied: “¶If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (2)

Is that not clear enough? If not, ought not this get your attention? “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord. If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase…And ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give [you] peace in the land…neither shall the sword go through your land.” (3)

In these, the last days, He has again stressed the importance of the Sabbath Day: “And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High; But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord…” (4)

We have made the Sabbath Day a day of sport and diversion. With hypocrisy rife, we make pretense that an hour or two in the church of our choice on a Sunday is devotion enough to our God, and then we make mockery of Him in the loud company of others as foolish as ourselves, in pursuits anything but reverent on day He has declared holy; a day He has promised, (among other things) that obedience to will “give [you] peace in the land…neither shall the sword go through your land.”

Yes, a good place to start on our path to repentance, and toward finding our way, is a simple one: keep the Sabbath Day holy.

(1) John 14:5-6
(2) Isaiah 58:13,14)
(3) Leviticus 26: 2-6
(4) Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-12
(5) Leviticus 26:6

Another Witness

I believe I am as well acquainted with the Holy Bible as any man, and better acquainted with it than most. I know it to be the word of God. The Old Testament in the Bible testifies of the coming of the Holy One of Israel, but few there be that understand it, or recognize the Messianic prophecies concerning His coming found in its chapters. The New Testament speaks of Him of whom the prophets testified, recounting the story of His divine birth in the meridian of times; of His pure and sinless life; and of His great atoning sacrifice, which began in Gethsemane and culminated on the Cross, wherein He took upon Himself the sins of all men and women, on condition of their repentance and absolute compliance with His commandments thereafter. It speaks of His glorious resurrection from the dead. We live in a time of skepticism and naysayers. Even amongst “learned” church leaders there can be found those who question the divinity of His birth and His glorious resurrection. Hence comes into play the divine law of witnesses, which law states that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (2 Corinthians 13:1; see also Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15: Matthew 18:15-16; John 8: 12-29) A second witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ of which the Holy Bible testifies is found in The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The book is written unto the convincing of Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, the Holy One of Israel. I testify that He who walked amongst men as Jesus of Nazareth is the Only Begotten of the Father. He is the Christ, chosen and ordained to become the one and only Savior and Redeemer of mankind, on condition of their repentance. It is my solemn and sacred witness that the Book of Mormon is true, and that one day you and I will stand before the bar, and you will then remember that I testified of its veracity, for “if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye…for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are His words, at the last day…” (2 Nephi 33:11, The Book of Mormon) I testify also that it was written by way of commandment, sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord that (it) might not be destroyed, to come forth in due time…the interpretation by the gift of God. I testify further that Joseph Smith, a latter day prophet of God, was raised up for the very purpose of bringing forth the Book of Mormon. “In the short space of twenty years, he brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God.” To seal the testimony of the Book of Mormon, he laid down his life as a martyr, as have other prophets before him, and his brother Hyrum died with him. “They were shot in Carthage jail, on the 27th of June, 1844, about five o’clock p.m., by an armed mob painted black of from 150 to 200 persons. Hyrum was shot first and fell calmly, exclaiming: I am a dead man! Joseph leaped from the window, and was shot dead in the attempt, exclaiming: O Lord my God! They were both shot after they were dead, in a brutal manner, and both received four balls.” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:1) Of these things I testify, telling you that they are true. You may reject the message, but you will remember in a later day that I declared it unto you, in the hallowed name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Lest We Forget

It behooves everyone who calls himself or herself an American, to consider deeply the words of the following hymn. As we consider the words, shall we not bring to remembrance the indisputable fact that this country was founded on Judeo-Christian values, and that the God of this land is Jesus Christ? Oh, of that, we must not forget! Let us bring to mind once again, and so declare, that the founders of this great country were men inspired of God to great thought, and not by coincidence. Can it be mere coincidence that they penned words such as those found in the Declaration of Independence? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…” How profound! How lofty the thought! How elevating! Where, in all the world, can one find words so liberating and meaningful in any document directed by the leadership of a free people towards their constituents? Further, within the parameters of such lofty thought comes the conviction that in the perilous times ahead, our liberty will never survive except we return, as a nation, to a dependence upon God. “In God we trust” must become more than words spouted about by pretend Christians, who “with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me.” Is it not time for us to repent of our sins, and return unto Christ, and to a love of this great land, America? Is it not time to remember and appreciate the sacrifices of heroes? Yes, this must be a time of remembrance, and not forgetfulness of a glorious past, for we must never forget the terrible sacrifices of those American heroes “who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!”

“Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee!
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!
Oh beautiful for pilgrim feet whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat across the wilderness.
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw.
Confirm thy soul in self control thy liberty in law.
O beautiful for heroes prov’d in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness and ev’ry gain divine.
O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears.
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea”

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