Tag Archives: jesus christ

When You List Your Personal Strengths, Are You Remembering This One?

unspecifiedWe really, really look forward to Mondays. That’s “Email Day” around here. Each week I update our missionary-son, Landon, on our lives and share a short gospel principle that’s, hopefully, encouraging. I also ask him three to five questions about himself and his mission experience.

Last week one of my questions invited him to list some of the strengths, gifts, or talents he’s noticing he is developing. I thought I’d hear him talk about some newfound courage or ability to love others or a developed work-ethic. His answer (and what follows is all he wrote about it) caught me a little off guard:

“I think I’ve just realized my weak spots right now. I have noticed that now when things get rough the first thing I do is turn to the Lord. Which if you count Him as my strength, I guess there’s one.” (Elder Mickelson, January 2017)

Each of us possess talents and talents-in-embryo. We each have strengths and gifts. But when we’re in a covenant relationship with the Savior, He becomes our greatest Gift. Many of us take courage when approaching a challenge when we’re reminded of some gift that will give us an advantage in the sticky situation. But, doesn’t having the Savior as our Advocate, Redeemer, and Savior give us the ultimate advantage in mortality.

The next time you are facing a problem, remember to list all of your gifts, especially the ultimate Gift. He is our greatest source of strength…

Be Encouraging…



She Wasn’t the Only One Who Touched the Savior’s Robe…

Notice how narrow the streets of Jerusalem are in the older parts of the city. And since many of the streets in the ancient parts of town haven’t shrunk, it makes sense that the streets in the Savior’s time would’ve been quite narrow as well. My guess is, walking up and down these streets would’ve been a pretty intimate experience.


Had you lived in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, you would’ve bumped into others often as you travelled through the winding streets of town. Your shoulders would have jostled people’s carts or you would’ve mistakenly stepped on someone’s sandals. Surely you side-stepped people or brushed up against them and their belongings regularly.

And that idea begs a question: Was the woman with an “issue of blood twelve years” and who reached out to touch the Savior’s clothes as he passed by the only person to touch his clothes that day? If so, why weren’t more people healed that day?

Short answer: Of course she wasn’t the only person to touch Jesus that day. Many people brushed up against the Savior and His clothing before and after she did. Most didn’t even realize that had touched Him. He may not have known that He had been touched by the others. But He knew that she had touched Him.

So, if touching his clothes healed the woman, why weren’t others healed that day as well? Short answer, again: Intention. Faith. Purpose. The woman who was healed touched the Savior as an act of faith. She intentionally reached for Him. She acted in faith and with purpose.

Thousands of people read the scriptures each day, but only a small percentage are “healed”. Countless people will pray this evening, but only a small percentage will be “healed” as a result. Many members of the LDS Church will partake of the sacrament on the upcoming Sabbath but only a small number will feel the cleansing power of the Atonement as part of that sacred ordinance. Many will look like they follow the Savior today, but only a handful of them will reap the blessings of obedience and love. Why? Because only a few will do these things on purpose and with intention.

Principle: When we act in faith with purpose and intention God can bless us in healing, powerful ways. When we go about our day with little intention or purpose, going through the motions, as it were, we miss connecting with Heaven. There is a difference between brushing up against the Savior because the streets are narrow and reaching out to Him with purpose, faith, and intention to obtain needed blessings.

So, today, look up and reach out in faith.

As always, be encouraging…



He Knows More Than Your Name…

first visionEver since I was a very young man, I have been impressed with the idea that when God came to visit Joseph Smith in 1820, He didn’t call him “Case #5663243” or “Hey You” or some other less personable name. He called him “Joseph” because this was no random moment in the history of the world:

When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! (JS-H 1:17)

God was coming to one of His sons, and He knew it. And Joseph knew it. And I know it.

But there is more to our relationship with Heavenly Father than name recognition. God knows so much more about us than our names. Neal A. Maxwell taught:

I testify to you that God has known you individually … for a long, long time. He has loved you for a long, long time. He not only knows the names of all the stars; He knows your names and all your heartaches and your joys! (“Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2004, 46.)

Our Heavenly Father knows what you are worrying about right now. He knows not only that your heart aches; He knows why. He knows what makes you happy and what is a relief to you right now. He more than hears your prayers, He knows your mind and heart.

He knows your history. He knows your baggage. He knows your family relationships and the influence they have had on you, good and bad.

He knows who has hurt you. He knows who hasn’t been fair as they’ve dealt with you.

He knows who you’ve lost. He knows your heart still quietly weeps for children that never quite made it into the busy part of mortality. He knows about the spouse that left. He knows about the spouse that never materialized, the children that were hoped for but not seen.

He also knows of your intentions. He knows your desires. He knows what you would have done.

He knows more than your name. He knows you and your family. And because he knows you better than even you know yourself, no one can answer prayers more perfectly than Him. No one…

Be Encouraging…


A One-On-One Experience with the Savior…

jesusIt is one thing to hear about something. Especially good if whoever tells you about it is good at explaining things with detail and passion. But, as they say, it is another thing to experience it yourself.

I believe that the Savior wants us to experience the gospel for ourselves. But it goes deeper than that.

Most of the world doesn’t know that Jesus Christ visited the Americas after His ministry in Jerusalem, though he hinted to the fact during His mortal ministry in the Old World (John 10:16). That visit to the New World is rich with principles, truths, doctrines, and teachings. One of the most powerful moments has less to do with words and much to do with action.

After appearing to those who had gathered around the temple awaiting His arrival, Jesus invited each of them to

Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. (3 Nephi 11:14)

Importantly, the people come forward to feel those tokens of the Atonement, but they came forward “one by one” (3 Nephi 11:15). Apparently there were at least 2500 people in the large group (3 Nephi 17:25), which would have created quite a line.

If each person touched the Savior one at a time, and each person had ten seconds to do so, this experience lasted roughly seven hours. Seven hours.

I realize that there is a lot of information we don’t have. I don’t know if each person had ten seconds. I really don’t know. But I know that the Savior was willing to take a significant amount of time to allow each person to have a person experience with His sacrifice. The Savior wants each of us to have an individual, one on one experience with the atonement.

How does that happen now? Rather than just read about or hear about other people’s experiences with the atonement, we need to come unto Christ through the process of repentance. When we strive to repent, we experience the power of the atonement in a very personal, private way. Once that happens, we become not only beneficiaries of the blessings of the atonement, we become witnesses of the reality of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Jesus Christ thinks we’re worth the effort. And I hope, so do we…

Be Encouraging…


Just Hold On a Bit Longer…The Blessing is Right Around the Corner…

JesusA few days ago, at the end of a lesson in seminary, a young person came up to me and said, quietly, “I really, really needed today’s lesson…”

You just never know. I know my students pretty well and I still almost never know what they’re going through. I mean what they’re really going through. I suppose that for the most part, it isn’t my business to know. I pray for Heavenly Father to inspire me as I prepare and teach and to inspire the youth as they participate in the lesson. Only He really knows the hearts of the students, so He is in the perfect position to deliver the principles taught in the lesson to their hearts, perfectly packaged in a way that they will recognize as being a personal gift. I’m thankful for that.

I want to share the principles of that day’s lesson with you. Just in case. I mean, for the most part, I don’t know what one reader of this blog is going through. But He does…

There was a moment in the Book of Mormon where believers in Christ were going to be put to death for their faith (3 Nephi 1:1-9). Non-believers had chosen a date (randomly, I’d presume) and drawn a line in the sand. If the signs of Jesus’ birth didn’t come about by the date chosen, the believers would be killed (v. 9).

The believers had been watching for the signs of Christ’s coming, and they had been watching steadfastly according to the scriptural account (3 Nephi 1:8). But when the non-believers challenged the believers with death at a certain date, the test of watching steadfastly became much more serious. It is one thing to believe. It is another to believe with a consequence for believing in the wrong thing.

There is much to the story, both written and not recorded, I’m sure. But Jesus did come (3 Nephi 1:12-21). The believers’ faith was not in vain. The promises of the prophets were verified and their faith was rewarded. And this is how it goes when we’re considering the promises of God.

But what about those who gave up? We have no record that anyone gave up on Christ’s coming when they were threatened with death, but wouldn’t you think that at least someone’s faith ran out? That at least someone thought, “This is just too much. This is too high a price. This is costing me and my family too much…I can’t wait any longer…”? Don’t you think that at least someone crossed over, teary-eyed and exhausted, from the believers to the non-believers? If there were those, I wonder if some of the believers quietly followed them to their house to talk with them. I would bet that happened. And I would guess that their pleas went something like this:

“Please don’t leave now. We’re almost there. The signs of His birth are getting close. I know this is hard and I know you are frightened about what may happen to us. But the blessings are right around the corner, I can feel it! You can stand by us. You can stand with our family. Link arms with us and whatever consequences come, we will stand right next to you. You will not be alone in your faith! Christ will come before the others destroy us, but if not (Daniel 3:18), we will stand together as believers and you will not be alone…”

I don’t know if it worked. I don’t know if anyone’s faith was strengthened or restored. We just don’t have a record of that. But I can tell you one thing: If you are waiting patiently, steadfastly, immovably, and faithfully for a blessing that you so desperately need, don’t give up now. You are not alone. You can stand with me and my family and others who believe right along with you. There are a lot of us. Thousands. Millions. If there are consequences to your faith, so be it. You will not have to face those consequences alone. God will honor the promises He has made. Christ will come, and He will save us… The blessings are right around the corner…

Be Encouraging…


Four Reasons to Feel Optimistic In These Trying Times…

boyd-k-packer-largeAs part of my church responsibilities, I had the pleasure of visiting an Elders Quorum in a ward different from my own. As the instructor introduced the General Conference talk we were going to use for the lesson, I decided to skim down my iPad version of the talk to see what I had already marked. The talk we used was President Boyd K. Packer’s October 2013 talk, “The Key to Spiritual Protection“. I had studied the talk a few weeks ago and found myself zeroing in on a particular quote that I must have liked. After quoting a few passaging in the scriptures that highlight some of the difficulties we would face in the latter days, President Packer shared:

The descriptions Paul and Moroni give of our day are so accurate that they cannot be dismissed. For many it may be quite disturbing, even discouraging. Nevertheless, when I think of the future, I am overwhelmed with feelings of positive optimism. (Boyd K. Packer, October 2013)

Over the last two months I’ve certainly noticed what I think might be an uptick in, well, circumstances that seem to weaken the Savior’s influence on the earth and strengthen Satan’s. Haven’t things changed, as far as the moral fiber of the human family, rather quickly? With that said, I do remember why I like President Packer’s quote so much. I, too, feel optimism for the future. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. I get to watch the youth of our church, and many other churches, doing great things and being great people. We’re absolutely not raising a bunch of whiny, selfish people. We’re seeing smart, kind, hard-working young people growing into adults. I have a lot of confidence in the future due to what I see in our youth.
  2. I’m seeing large pockets of people who are balanced, dedicated, honest adults. I’m seeing that people who don’t believe the same as I do still impress me and make me see that the Light of Christ is covering the earth. In fact, I’m thankful to know that people who are on the opposite side of the voting issues relative to me actually line up with what I value on about 90% of life. That gives me hope.
  3. The scriptures and the prophets have promised some pretty exciting things that are yet to be. We’ve seen a lot of miraculous events lately regarding the spread of the gospel, the efforts in family history work, and the strengthening of our youth, but we have very exciting things around the corner. That bodes well for this planet.
  4. As dark as things sometimes seem, this isn’t 70 A.D. The Church of Jesus Christ is not falling into apostasy like in the meridian of time. We’re not losing church leadership and rebelling, en masse, against the apostles. The story goes a little different in the latter days in that the light of the gospel will not go out…In fact, the Light of the World will come. I believe that Jesus will come again, as He promised, and that is how things end this time.

There’s more, I’m sure. I feel good about life here on earth, even in light of the negative things that seem to be increasing.

Lastly, I just want to tell Satan (I doubt he follows my blog) something: You can’t win. We know how things end. I realize that each day we choose who we are going to follow, but we know that you, Satan, won’t come out on top. It may seem like you won a great battle 2000 years ago as the apostasy settled upon the earth. But, that just set the stage for the Restoration and the Second Coming…

The future of this world has long been declared, the final outcome between good and evil is already known. There is no question as to who wins because the victory has already been posted on the scoreboard. The only really strange thing in all of this is we are all still down here on the field trying to decide which team’s jersey we want to wear. (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland)

Be Encouraging…


So You’re Attending a Mormon Worship Service? (Mormonism 101)…

sacrament meetingThis post is for you. Well, what I mean is, this post is intended for a person who was recently invited to attend a Mormon worship service. Attending church with the Mormons is a lot like other church’s services, but also different. Hopefully this post will help make your first trip more enjoyable.

First of all, there is a webpage that will give you an “official” explanation of what will happen at church. You really should check it out. You’ll find it here. Maybe don’t read any thing else until you read that.

Ok. Now, a couple other things:

  1. No one in the local congregation gets paid to preach or give sermons. In fact, no one is really trained to give sermons. I mean, there are some good speakers who you’ll really enjoy, but I think you’ll notice that who ever is speaking to the congregation is pretty nervous and is only doing it because they’ve been invited to share some thoughts on whatever gospel topic is assigned. Though you won’t always hear a “polished” talk or sermon, you will hear people speaking from the heart, from the scriptures, and from personal experience.
  2. Usually the first Sunday of the month is for anyone to go to the microphone and share their testimony. Each month we have the opportunity to share some of the simple truths that are in our hearts. Again, these aren’t professional clergy but are your neighbors who might be school teachers, stay-at-home parents, plumbers, physicians or just about any other profession. I think you’ll find it interesting to hear people just speak, unprepared, on the very basics of the gospel. Because anyone can get up, you might hear some people share some things you’re not used to hearing in church, but most of what you hear will feel very familiar. Sometimes people get so nervous they don’t say exactly what they had planned on saying. But most of these micro-talks are about the central basics of our beliefs.
  3. Mormons are taught to be welcoming to visitors and I think you’ll find that a lot of people will shake your hand, ask your name, and generally welcome you. Now, there is a chance that not everyone will. Some people will keep to themselves. You know, as much as we enjoy church, sometimes people in church are struggling with a tough week or day and they may keep to themselves. Don’t take it personally. They are happy you’re here, they just need a Sunday to feel close to Heavenly Father and to feel some peace. They’ll warm up next week.
  4. If you are attending church in your neighborhood, there is the chance you’ll recognize some of the congregants. You work with Mormons. You’re neighbors with Mormons. Heck, one ran for President of the United States recently (technically, two did). You may also recognize a person or two that hasn’t quite lived up to what the Mormons profess to believe. Again, that’s ok. That’s why they’re there. Cut them a little break and get to know them a little better. They’re probably trying.
  5. You’ve already read about this, but Mormons do have “communion”. We call it “sacrament” and we eat a piece of bread and drink a small cup of water to remind us of the Savior’s sacrifice and our baptism. I just read on some site that people who aren’t Mormons aren’t allowed to take the sacrament. Of course you are allowed to take the sacrament if you’d like to! If you choose to join the LDS church and are baptized, the sacrament will become even more significant to you.
  6. Give it a few weeks. Part of Mormonism is the feeling of community and family. There’s more to it than that, but if you’ll attend for at least a few weeks and maybe come to a mid-week activity with a friend, you’ll feel more comfortable. 
  7. Lastly, pay attention to how you feel while attending church. Even if the sermons aren’t professionally prepared; even if not everyone flocks to you and hugs you; even if you see a few (or a lot) Mormons who don’t set the perfect example; I think you’ll feel the Spirit of God during the meetings. Stick with it. We’re happy you’re here!

Well, there’s more, but go give it a shot. If you have questions, lean over and ask someone around you. Or, come back here and shoot me an email. I’d be happy to help!

Be Encouraging…


These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...