USS Enterprise, The Next Generation

Boldly Going Where No One Has Gone Before

I felt like Elder Oaks’ address from General Conference, “Loving Others and Living with Differences,” was fantastic. And heavy. And a little biting, especially if you’re one of those dweebs who doesn’t let their kids play with other kids who aren’t members of the Church.

(I mean, seriously?…)

Dang it. I just lost the “is it I?” game, deep diving into my second General Conference talk. Crap.

I feel like there’s so much in there that I’ll need to “noodle” over, but one of the heaviest parts of Elder Oaks’ talk, in my view, is the discussion about contention. “Contention” can mean a great many things to a great many people, which is what makes discussion about it so slippery. Before we look more into clues that help us see how Elder Oaks’ understands “contention,” let me tell you a story. Continue reading

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Asparagus, Now with 100% More Bacon!

A Bacon-y Balm in Gilead

When our family first moved to the Pacific Northwest, we were transplants. My wife and I had grown up in different parts of California, I’d served a mission in Hawaii, and we’d gone to school in Utah. That left us with almost zero connections when we finally arrived in Washington.

Luckily, a few of our friends from BYU also got jobs in the Seattle area, and we arrived in Washington not too far apart from each other.

We were having dinner with one of these couples, a BBQ in the glorious northwest summer weather that all the rest of the world should be jealous of, when the husband brought out something glorious. Continue reading

Come Listen to a Prophet

#Next6Months

Another #LDSConf has come and gone! What a weekend! I feel like I’ve just drunk from the fire hose.

What are your plans for the #next6months? What’s changing for you as a result of what you’ve learned?

For now, I’m looking forward to reviewing the talks, bit by bit, and personalizing the counsel found within. I’ll post links to some of my own insights or lessons-learned below, though I probably won’t outline in detail all the shortcomings we’ll strive to overcome in our family (as we review conference in the spirit of asking “Is it I?”).

I encourage you to do the same. It can be part of your efforts “To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood” like Elder Bednar counseled. Continue reading

Sketchy Cards

General Conference and Looking for “New Wording”

I’m really excited for General Conference. Come Saturday morning, I’ll be in my super comfy Nautica PJ’s (or maybe sporting my PhillyD monkey shirt), probably setting the oven timer for the amazing French toast casserole we make biannually at conference time.

This French toast recipe is as true as the Church.

Making this breakfast is a family affair. It’s tons of fun.

We don’t dress up for conference in our family, unlike some folks, I guess (the Trib runs pieces like this during the two times a year time it tries to be nice to the LDS Church, the weeks before the spring and fall conferences). That definitely helps me be excited.

When my wife and I were dating, though, I did have her convinced for a moment that in my house, we stayed in church clothes all Sunday long.

(I could see it in her eyes, the way she considered breaking up with me right then and there.)

The way we approach conference – more in terms of what we listen for rather than our dress or food quirks – is very important when it comes to getting the most out of it. Let me show you what I mean.

In 2005, then President Gordon B. Hinckley gave a talk entitled, simply, “Gambling.” I’ve always found the structure of this talk far more interesting than the content. Continue reading

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

Even More Top Gospel Teaching Tips, According to Science

The three first “commandments” of gospel teaching I offered were these:

  1. Thou Shalt Have Grace for Those Still Improving
  2. Thou Shalt Master the Material
  3. Thou Shalt Not Go Over

You can read about them in my earlier post on gospel teaching.

When I initially stared brainstorming this post, the “commandments” below are the ones I actually thought of first. Once I started writing, though, I was worried that people would yell at me if “thou shalt have grace” wasn’t number 1 (and they’d have a fair point, I guess).

Nevertheless, I’m ready to give you another three, each of which I consider to be hugely important.

Continue reading

Michigan Farm

Them’s Chores

I heard a story yesterday originally from a preacher who grew up in Detroit. He’d spent his whole life in the inner city, and when he was still young he went to visit his grandparents on their farm in northern Michigan. He heard the birds like he’d never heard them before. He saw the blue skies like he’d never seen them before. It was wonderful.

The next morning, his grandpa woke him up at 6 o’clock (he hadn’t ever seen that before either). They walked outside, and his grandpa handed him a metal pail. There was a chicken coop across the way, and his grandpa pointed to it and said, “Take this pail, and go and collect any eggs.” He did.

When he got back, his grandpa gave him a bucket of slop. “Take this and go feed the pig.” He did.

It went like this all morning, before the young boy had even eaten breakfast. Finally, his grandpa took him inside where breakfast was waiting for them. After eating his fill, he threw himself on the sofa in the living room. Continue reading

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

The Top Gospel Teaching Tips, According to Science

A number of years ago, I found myself sitting in an Elder’s Quorum meeting. For as long as I can remember, Elder’s Quorum lessons had focused on the teachings of different presidents of the Church (this year, for example, we’re studying the teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith). That year, though, church leaders had insisted that, instead, we would spend the year studying the newly revised Gospel Principles manual.

A (thankfully) small part of me thought that such an exercise was a little… basic. I’ve since come to appreciate how inspired that direction was.

One such feeling of appreciation came to me on that Sunday I sat in that Elder’s Quorum class. The lesson was on the Spirit World, and the teacher began by drawing a version of the Plan of Salvation diagram that most Latter-day Saints are familiar with.

After finishing he said, referencing the diagram. “When I, uh, when I was a missionary teaching the Plan of Salvation, it’d only take me, like, 15 minutes to do this whole thing…”

He then started drawing circles around the Spirit World part, continuing, “…and the lesson wants me to spend the whole time on THIS part right here….”

He stepped back from the white board, his eyes locked on the circles he’d just completed as if he were pausing to consider just how to continue. When he did, I didn’t know what to think. Continue reading

Dandelion Weeds

Tolerating the Weeds

Not Free Willy

My wife and I watched Blackfish a few months ago. Going into it we knew it was about SeaWorld and orca whales and the issues that arise from their captivity, but we didn’t know much more than that. Thinking that our two year-old son might find it interesting to see killer whales, my wife invited him to join us.

“Hey, do you want to watch a show about whales?”

*turns on Blackfish*

(From the television) “…Um, we need someone to respond… the whale just ate one of the trainers…” *ominous music* Continue reading

KJV Bible

“It Ain’t in My Bible No More”

I went to my grandpa’s funeral last weekend. During the service, I heard a story that I’d heard a time or two before. I didn’t mind – it’s a good one.

My grandpa served in what was then the Southern States mission, right in the heart of the Bible Belt. One day, while tracting, my grandpa got into a discussion about the way the Church practices proxy baptisms for the dead. The man he was speaking with challenged him to defend that belief by going to the Bible, even handing him his own copy of the scriptures.

My grandpa obliged, and turned to the scripture in Corinthians that Latter-day Saints sometimes use as a proof-text. “There it is, right there in your Bible,” he said, handing the man back his Bible. Continue reading

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