I am reposting this because I love the message and how it was delivered. This is particularly important for parents who have gone paleo. You can read the original post here. Thanks to Rachel Klein for an insightful post in The New Yorker.

Limiting Your Child’s Fire Time: A Guide for Concerned Paleolithic Parents


According to the most recent cave drawings, children nowadays are using fire more than ever before. And it’s no wonder: fire has many wonderful applications, such as cooking meat, warming the home, and warding off wild animals in the night. We adult Homo erectus, with our enlarged brains and experience of pre-fire days, can moderate our use, but our children—some of whom never lived during a time when you couldn’t simply strike two rocks together for an hour over a pile of dried grass to eventually produce a spark that, with gentle coaxing, might grow into a roaring flame—can have difficulty self-monitoring their interactions with fire.

You don’t want to be the bad guy, but you also want to make sure that your child engages in other activities, like mammoth hunting and the gathering of rocks and bones with which to make tools. So, how do you set appropriate boundaries for your child on fire usage without jeopardizing the family unit so crucial to the survival of the species? Here are some tips:

Establish clear but firm limits: Fire is nice, but there’s a time and a place for it. So institute specific fire-watching times, and stick to them. After dinner, when the fire is lit, anyway, is one good option, as well as early in the morning, when a fire is just the thing to warm a chilly cave. Those living in glacial areas may have a harder time curtailing the use of fire, but just remind your children that when you were their age several layers of animal pelts were enough to keep you perfectly warm. Remember, you’re the patriarch (or matriarch, depending on your community’s customs surrounding familial power structures), and you make the rules!

Have a designated “fire room” in your dwelling: Those with smaller caves or huts might find this suggestion difficult, but even establishing a “fire corner” can help to create separate “fire” and “non-fire” spaces in your living area. In the non-fire spaces, encourage traditional activities, such as conversation (as much as your current vocabulary will allow), arrowhead-shaving, or stick-drawing in mud or soft stones. Reminding your children of the pleasures provided by these traditional activities can help reduce the seductive lure of the fire’s dancing flame.

Watch for changes and communicate concerns: For many children, fire is a harmless, pleasant addition to their lives. But for some it can become an all-consuming passion. If your child seems to be growing unhealthily attached to the fire, don’t wait to talk to him about it. A few common fire-obsessed behaviors to look out for include:

• Distraction: ignoring people when they are in the same room as fire

• Preoccupation: talking or thinking about fire, even when there is no fire present

• Deception: going off to secretly find/make fires; lying about fire usage when confronted

• Anthropomorphization: talking to/interacting with the fire as if it were a sentient being, which the elders we consulted say is highly unlikely, though they have yet to entirely rule out the presence of powerful magical beings within the inferno

Commit to non-fire family time: This last tip is the most important, because, if all you’re doing is restricting your child’s behavior and environment, he’s bound to resent you. So introduce non-fire activities that the whole family can enjoy together, and commit to them on a regular basis. These activities will depend on your region and climate, of course, but hunting and/or gathering is always a great way to be active and insure your family’s survival. If your tribe has already discovered music, carve a bone flute and work on a family song. Believe in a god (or gods)? Carve some rudimentary icons in his/her/their image. There’s no end to the fun you can have when you put your significantly-larger-than-a-chimpanzee’s mind to it!

In the end, just remember that fire, like most innovations, is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it’s made our lives easier, our survival likelier, and will probably lead to the greatest evolutionary paradigm shift in human history. But it’s also dangerous, destructive, and, yes, possibly infested with demonic forces that wish us ill. As with everything in life, balance is key. If you can imagine what it was like a few thousand years ago, when the first humans started walking upright, and how much grief they probably got from their parents, you’ll have some empathy for your children’s unique place in the evolutionary narrative. At the same time, don’t forget that you’re the boss, and that, until they mate and produce viable offspring, what you say goes. And, of course, it goes without saying that, in the (again, very unlikely) event that fire is both sentient and vengeful, we humbly beg its forgiveness for our insolence and pray to be spared our fleeting and insignificant lives.

Posted by: 2thdocbob | 21 January 2018

Worthy Goals

I was assigned to speak this morning in Crestline Ward. I love to go up to Crestline, elevation about 4600 feet, and enjoy our mountains. And of course it is a privilege to visit with my good friends there in the ward.

Dear brothers and sisters, I am grateful to be here to worship with you today. I’m grateful to be in the most beautiful part of our stake. And I’m grateful for the associations I have with many of you.

I bring you love and greetings from President Garvin and his counselors. They love you, and are mindful of each of you and the challenges you face in your lives.

This is still a new year, a symbolic time of new beginnings, of refocusing our priorities and trying to improve ourselves. Resolutions are made and broken in a long tradition that dates clear back to the ancient Babylonians.[1] Many of us just hope to remember to write 2018.

Amidst all these symbolic changes, members of the Church have experienced a very real change this year as President Thomas S. Monson died, and President Russell M. Nelson was called as his successor. Having a new prophet is a significant change for each one of us.

I hope that all of you had the opportunity to listen to the new First Presidency introduce themselves on Tuesday morning. If you haven’t, please take the time to go online this afternoon and listen to the words of our new prophet, Russell M. Nelson.

I testify to you that he was prepared and called of God to lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at this time.

I would like to share a portion of President Nelson’s first message to us as our prophet. After explaining the changes and the process, he gave instruction to us as members of the Church.

“To each member of the Church I say:” and whenever the prophet says that, I pay attention; “To each member of the Church I say: Keep on the covenant path. Your commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants with him, and then keeping those covenants, will open the door to every spiritual blessing and privilege available to men, women and children everywhere.

“As a new presidency, we want to begin with the end in mind. For this reason, we are speaking to you today from a temple. The end for which each of us strives is to be endowed with power in a House of the Lord, sealed as families, faithful to covenants made in the temple, that qualify us for the greatest gift of God, that of eternal life.

“The ordinances of the temple and the covenants you make there are key to strengthening your life, your marriage and family, and your ability to resist the attacks of the Adversary. Your worship in the temple, and your service there for your ancestors will bless you with increased personal revelation and peace, and will fortify your commitment to stay on the covenant path.

“Now, if you have stepped off the path, may I invite you with all the hope in my heart to please come back. Whatever your concerns, whatever your challenges, there is a place for you in this, the Lord’s Church. You, and generations yet unborn will be blessed by your actions now to return to the covenant path. Our Father in Heaven cherishes his children and wants each of us to return home to him. This is a grand goal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to help each of us to come back home.

“Our divine mandate is to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, helping to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord. This we will do with faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, knowing that he is in charge.”

President Oaks spoke briefly and pledged his loyalty and support for President Nelson’s loving and inspired leadership. It was touching to see the bond between these two Apostles.

President Eyring spoke of the need for growth in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He said that “the growth will come as we each pray, work, and live to have the Holy Ghost as our companion in our lives,” and that the blessing will come as we “renew and remember covenants we have made in the sacrament and in holy temples and so have the Spirit to be with us.”

It touched me deeply when Pres. Eyring said “every association I have had with President Nelson and President Oaks has increased my ability to remember the Savior, keep sacred covenants, and find joy in the influence of the Holy Ghost.” And it made me think, could I ever be that kind of person?[2]

In this brief 18-minute meeting, I received valuable prophetic counsel: seven suggestions that I can use as a basis for meaningful, worthy personal goals.

First: President Nelson advised us to keep on the covenant path, to make and keep sacred covenants, including the temple covenants of the endowment and sealing. President Eyring also advised us to renew and remember these covenants, as we have this morning.

Eternal blessings were promised to each of us. The most important real-time blessings were the promised ability to resist the power of the Adversary through our temple attendance, and the promise of personal revelation through our temple attendance.

Second: President Nelson invited us to get back on the path if we have stepped off. There is always room for anyone who has the courage and the desire to come back. And if you have already done so, you can testify that this is no easy task.

Third: President Nelson reminded us of the divine mandate to help to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord, which requires faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Fourth: President Eyring invited us to grow our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ through prayer, work, and living so the Holy Ghost will be our companion.

Fifth: President Oaks pledged his loyalty and support to President Nelson. Are we willing to do that as we strive to follow the prophet? Our salvation depends on it.

Sixth: President Eyring’s comment on his association with Presidents Nelson and Oaks. Are we striving to be kind of people who make others want to remember the Savior, keep sacred covenants, and find joy in the Spirit? I saw that as a personal challenge.

And seventh: President Nelson reminded us of the “grand goal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” to help each of us to return home to our Father in Heaven. I’ll say a little bit more about that later on.

These are prophetic instructions and counsel to each of us, if we will receive it. I can construct many worthy goals from this to help me to stay on track. And look at the promised blessings!

The Savior frequently took time alone to pray and ponder, and to counsel with the Father. I feel certain that these were times when assignments were given and reported on. We can follow the Savior’s example by counseling with Heavenly Father as we set our own goals.

And certainly, the First Presidency and Apostles have spent significant time this year praying and pondering, especially President Nelson.

Thirty years ago, President Monson taught us that “Our responsibility is to rise from mediocrity to competence, from failure to achievement. Our task is to become our best selves. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final.”[3]

President Ballard observed that “those who accomplish the most in this world are those with a vision for their lives, with goals to keep them focused on their vision and tactical plans for how to achieve them.” He added that “Knowing where you are going and how you expect to get there can bring meaning, purpose and accomplishment to life.”[4]

The Savior’s injunction to “be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect”[5] can seem overwhelming to mere mortals. But if we break it down into steps, “line upon line, precept upon precept,” it becomes more realistic.

The Savior himself had to progress a step at a time. In Section 93, we read “And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;

“And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;

“And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first.”[6]

In setting goals with an eye on being like Christ, we can break it down into activities that will help us to be “even as he is.”

As the First Presidency instructed us this week, making and keeping sacred covenants is an important part of that progression. So is actively seeking the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Even these goals can be broken down further. Attending sacrament meeting is an important part of making and keeping our covenants. Since I have become faithful in my sacrament meeting attendance, now I might set a goal to improve my spiritual preparation to partake of the sacrament each week.

In my plan, I could take time during the week to ponder on the sacrament prayers and reflect on the promises I make each time I partake of the sacrament, as well as the promised blessings I would like to qualify for. I could make an effort to be kinder and more forgiving. I could prepare myself for sabbath worship on Saturday. I could even pray for the speakers to be influenced by the Spirit as they address us.

Daily scripture study has been a habit for me for over 40 years, but I have not achieved perfection in that yet. I look to President Nelson’s example. He reported that last year, he read, marked and pondered over 2,200 Topical Guide references to Jesus Christ, and said that he was a changed man because of it. He reported that he reread the Old Testament with an emphasis on the Lord’s covenants with the House of Israel. And he reported a depth of study of the Book of Mormon that I would love to achieve. Sometimes my study is a little superficial.

Temple attendance is another area that I can improve upon. And that requires goals and careful planning.

My family has been very active in family history work for decades. My dad feels that there is no realistic chance of my finding any new family names, short of receiving revelation. So, what should I do? Should I put this responsibility aside and say my work is done? No! I could assist with my wife’s family history. And I have been doing indexing, which will help many others do their work.

These are just some examples. The real lesson is that the goals must be appropriate to our individual situations. They should be realistic, and they should not lead us to run faster than we are able. But they should stretch us and lead us to grow.

Small, measurable improvements will keep us on the path (or return us to it) and will help us to head in the right direction.

In addition to the spiritual goals, temporal goals are also important. We make budgets, plan vacations, and try to save for important purchases and events. We may set career goals and other goals and President Ballard even mentioned goals for our golf game.

But do most of our goals have a temporal focus, or a spiritual focus? And why does that make a difference?

We should remember that each goal that we set must be compatible with Heavenly Father’s plan. If it is not, we cannot expect the Lord’s blessings as we set out to achieve it. We should seek the guidance of the Spirit as we set goals, and ask for Heavenly Father’s help as we try to achieve them.

Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”[7]

James reminds us: “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

“For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”[8]

James warns us that we cannot take life for granted. We hope for future events, but we can’t always be certain. This is another important reason to include God in our plans.

And Paul reminds us: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”[9]

And finally, from Nephi, the familiar scripture, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”[10]

A highlight of Nephi’s statement was his willingness to go and do. We can never achieve any worthy goal without effort. But please note that he knew that the Lord would help him to obey the instructions from the prophet (his father, Lehi).

We must put forth effort to achieve our worthy goals. Nothing worthwhile in this life can be achieved without great effort and commitment. And that can be disappointing to some who would like to find an easy way to success.

Changing habits requires a great deal of determination and effort. In fact, when I think about losing weight, the Savior’s statement comes to mind that “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” [11]

But seriously, as we try to change habits, or to achieve important goals, or even our “big hairy audacious goals,” we need to do all we can with the Lord’s help. The prophets have told us that without the Lord’s help we cannot succeed; but with the Lord’s help, we cannot fail. I believe that if our goals are aligned with Heavenly Father’s will, and aligned with his plan for us, we will find this to be true.

The Lord will prepare a way for us to do his will. It might not be in the manner we expect; it might require a significant trial of our faith; it might not even come within our desired time frame. But if we seek and strive to do his will, we can count on his guidance and assistance.

Everything in the gospel of Jesus Christ points to Heavenly Father’s ultimate goal for us: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”[12] And his plan for us to achieve that goal is his Plan of Salvation. This is the perfect example of a worthy goal, and it should be an example, and the foundation for all our other goals.

Brothers and sisters, I testify that our progress is an important part of Heavenly Father’s plan for our eternal happiness. I testify further that if we will search the Scriptures, listen to the voice of the Spirit, and follow the prophet, that we will be able to receive the divine assistance that is so important in this life.

I know that God lives, and that he is a loving Heavenly Father. He will bless us as we include him in our plans, and as we strive to do his will through helping to perfect the saints, preach the gospel, redeem the dead, and care for the poor.

This I testify in the name of Jesus, Christ, amen.

[1] Mental Floss Magazine, Why Do We Make New Year’s Resolutions? http://mentalfloss.com/article/60776/why-do-we-make-new-years-resolutions

[2] A Message from the First Presidency. Transcript. https://www.lds.org/bc/content/ldsorg/church/news/2018/01/19/2018-01-1000-a-message-from-the-first-presidency.pdf?lang=eng

Video: https://www.lds.org/church/news/new-first-presidency-speaks-to-members-worldwide?cid=HP_TU_16-1-2018_dPFD_fCNWS_xLIDyMAST_&lang=eng

[3] General Conference, April 1987.

[4] General Conference, April 2017.

[5] Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 12:48.

[6] Doctrine & Covenants 93:12-14.

[7] KJV, Matthew 6:33.

[8] KJV, James 4:13-15.

[9] KJV, Philippians 4:13.

[10] Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 3:7.

[11] KJV, Matthew 17:21.

[12] Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:39.

Posted by: 2thdocbob | 14 January 2018

Goals or Resolutions? Does It Matter?

I know we are already two weeks into the new year, but it’s never too late to start making changes. I happened upon this article in our Church’s magazine for youth 12-18 (or to 95: I still like to read it), and really liked the ideas for resolutions.

I have never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions; there is an implication that they are not serious enough to stick with, even if the intent is good. I have always set goals at my birthday, and review and revise them at the New Year. That’s simply a personal preference, and it really makes no difference when you set your goals, as long as they are done with good intent.

There is a tremendous amount of literature about making goal-setting easy, and many people share three or six or five “quick easy steps to meet your goals this year and find happiness.” Malarkey. If it’s easy, it might not be a meaningful goal. If a goal does not stretch you and push you out of your comfort zone, it may not be a worthwhile goal: you may not grow.

In my mind, goals are a means to grow. And my goals can assist in my own growth as well as in others’ growth. That is why this New Era article resonated with me. I have posted it unaltered, in its entirety.

You can read the original article here.

6 New Year’s Resolutions You Probably Never Thought About

Charlotte Larcabal | Church Magazines

Tired of making the same old New Year’s resolutions? Here are six new ideas to make 2018 amazing!

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Eat better.
  2. Get better grades.
  3. Exercise more.

Have any of these goals made your list? Don’t be too surprised if they have—year after year, these are among the most popular New Year’s resolutions. In fact, if you’re like many people, these goals were on your list last year—and the year before that.

For some reason, we keep setting (and oftentimes, not achieving) the same goals year after year. There’s nothing wrong with these goals, and there’s no reason why you can’t accomplish them, but why not shake things up a bit by setting (and meeting) a goal you’ve never thought of before? Here are six new goals that will help make 2018 amazing!

Two teenage boys

1. Make eye contact with people as you speak with and listen to them.

If you’re looking to make new friends, this is a great goal to set. Don’t overdo it—staring into someone’s eyes for too long (sometimes even for just a little) might make them uncomfortable—but try to look people directly in their eyes as they talk to you. When you meet someone new, notice the color of their eyes. Looking people directly in their eyes sends the message that you see and appreciate who they are. (Read “How to Be a Good Friend.”)

Two girls

2. Try something new every day!

This doesn’t mean you have to jump into a new hobby every day. Something new can be something little. Never hang up your coat? Hang it up! Always sit with the same people at lunch? Sit with someone new. Even making the smallest changes can lead to amazing new experiences and help you learn new things.

“Fill up your memory bank and your book of life with as many ‘I’m glad I did’ activities as you can possibly crowd into one lifetime,” counseled Elder L. Tom Perry (1922–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (“Making Memories,” Ensign, Aug. 1993, 63). Don’t let fear, laziness, or a routine keep you from “I’m glad I did” experiences. Surprise yourself! You’ll be glad you did. (Read “How to Discover Your Gifts.”)

Young woman

3. Look in the mirror every morning and say, “I am a child of God. He loves me and will help me today.”

We think thousands of thoughts every day, and if we’re not careful, many of these can be negative. Repeating a positive, powerful, and hopeful thought to yourself is a great way to keep out all those complaints, criticisms, and fears. Repeating that thought out loud makes it an even more powerful reminder. That fact that you are a child of God, who loves you and will help you, is one of the most positive, powerful, and hopeful thoughts out there! (Watch “Our Divine Destiny.”)

Young woman

4. Do something besides pull out your phone when you have free time.

What do you do when you’re sitting in class before the bell rings or waiting for your mom to pick you up? Chances are, you pull your phone out. But what if you didn’t?

Set a goal to not pull your phone out every single time you’re bored or waiting. Give your mind time to wander. Look around. Notice things. Bored? Good. You can handle a few minutes of boredom. Creativity can happen when you’re bored.

Young man with man

5. Learn to cook three new meals this year.

Think outside the (cereal) box. Reach for some fresh ingredients and kitchen gadgets and wow your family with your chef skills. Whether you love to cook or aren’t sure what a tsp is, learning a new recipe is always a good idea! You can find someone who cooks well to teach you a few things, or you can find some recipes to try yourself. Don’t forget to clean up! (Read “Self-Reliance: Preparing for Your Future.”)

Two young men

6. Say “thank you” 10 times a day.

You can make someone’s day by showing them some gratitude, but studies show that being grateful also has a powerful effect on your own mood and well-being. Many people find that the more they focus on things to be grateful for, the happier they are. Want to be happier, healthier, and make someone’s day? Amp up the gratitude. “No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish,” said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. “There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it” (“Of Regrets and Resolutions,” Oct. 2012 general conference).

Try saying “thank you” 10 times a day. Or finish each day by writing down 10 things you are grateful for. (Read “Live in Thanksgiving Daily.”)

It’s in the Doing

There are many, many different things you can do to become a little more like Heavenly Father this year. After all, that’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it? Maybe you really are going to practice discipline as you lose weight or save more money this year. Or maybe you want to shake things up and set a brand new goal. Whatever you choose to do, just remember what President Thomas S. Monson has taught: “It is not enough to want to make the effort and to say we’ll make the effort. we must actually make the effort. It’s in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals” (“A Royal Priesthood,” Oct. 2007 general conference).

Happy New Year!

“Our responsibility is to rise from mediocrity to competence, from failure to achievement,” the late President Thomas S. Monson has taught. “Our task is to become our best selves. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final.”1

This is what meaningful goals are about. The six suggestions above will certainly make a difference in the life of a teenager; they could also make a difference in the life of an adult.

Does one of these goals resonate with you? Or do they inspire you to set a different goal? Please share!

Posted by: 2thdocbob | 27 December 2017

In Memoriam, Philip Pumerantz: A Final Tribute to Caring

I posted this tribute to Philip Pumerantz, PhD, on April 15, 2015, shortly after he announced his retirement as President of Western University of Health Sciences. In it, I briefly examined some noteworthy leadership traits that I observed in my limited contact with him.

With the announcement of his passing on December 26, 2017, I felt it was important to revisit this leadership tribute and add a few more thoughts in his honor.

Next to the statue of Dr. Pumerantz, across the Esplanade from the Health Sciences Center, is a fountain with the three building blocks of Western University: Humanism, Caring, and Science. I don’t believe that these were mere words for Dr. Pumerantz; these seemed to be a part of his core values. He was a kind, caring man. That was particularly evident than when he was with his wife, Harriet.

WUHS Fountain

And that caring was extended to the faculty, staff and students of WesternU. He loved the students. He seemed energized by them. In his last few years as President, he insisted on being on stage for all 5 commencement ceremonies. He did his best to stand and congratulate each new doctor. I cannot imagine the superhuman effort that entailed. Having participated in five commencements for the College of Dental Medicine, I can begin to understand his love for the students and his pride in their accomplishments.

I have a close friend who served as a consultant when the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific was being organized. He spoke of Dr. Pumerantz as a shrewd business person, and I don’t believe that this was meant as a negative comment. Indomitability, tenacity, and ambition have also been used to describe him. He has also been referred to as a super salesman. Without that, without the drive that goes along with an unconquerable desire for success, Philip Pumerantz could not have accomplished all that he did.

My original tribute, slightly edited, follows.




Recently, Dr. Philip Pumerantz, President of Western University of Health Sciences, announced his retirement. Even though I have not had the privilege of working directly with him, my nearly six years of contact with him as an employee have provided some valuable lessons.

Dr. Pumerantz founded Western University, starting with the humble beginnings of the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in 1977. In the intervening years, the university has grown to include nine colleges of various health science disciplines.

These colleges form a well-integrated, innovative university. For example, we have been pioneers in interprofessional education in the health sciences. But each college is also making a name for itself within its own discipline in health education. Our College of Dental Medicine, where I am employed, is a trendsetter in dental education.

Our clinic facility includes clinics for dentistry, podiatric medicine, osteopathic medicine (family practice), optometry, and an interdisciplinary diabetes center, along with a full-service pharmacy. Each is manned by students who are guided by capable faculty and staff.

All of this is noteworthy enough, but by itself, it would not motivate me to consider a tribute. Rather, it is the man himself, Dr. Pumerantz, who inspired me to write this. I believe that we as leaders can learn much from this great man.


Allow me to share what has been most significant to me.

Dr. Pumerantz was a man of vision: he was always looking beyond the horizon. He surrounded himself with capable men and women who caught his vision and have helped him to make it a reality. Many of these individuals are innovators in their own right, and have been given the freedom to develop excellence in their own programs.

He was appreciative. Each year, on the anniversary of my hire, I received a thank you note. This was a very pleasant surprise at the end of my first year. In conversations with us, he always seemed to find something to thank us for. His attitude helped me to realize that my contributions do not go unnoticed.

He created a culture of friendship among all university employees. For lack of a better term, he fostered a “Hilton culture” at WesternU, where nearly everyone is happy to help out. Whether it is the maintenance crew, the mailroom staff, security, doctors, or anyone else: we all greet one another and treat each other well. This culture was well established before I joined the faculty, and that made it easier for me to adjust to academia.

Dr. Pumerantz was an example of community involvement and community service. Indeed, this is a key point of our success. We put on health fairs and screenings and serve in many other ways. Applying students must show a track record of service in order to be admitted! Not the least noteworthy here is how we as a university have helped to revitalize downtown Pomona. Because of what Dr. Pumerantz has done in the community, I was once thanked by the Mayor of Pomona for all the good we do for the city.

Dr. Pumerantz was approachable. He didn’t stay in his ivory tower. He often stopped us to chat. Many university presidents can’t be bothered with that. He embodied the principle of MBWA: management by walking around. Many of my co-workers have told stories of kind conversations with him.

Frequently when I was out walking, I heard him call out “Hello, Professor!” He always had questions about how I was doing, how my family was, how the College was doing – he showed an interest. And I always felt appreciated.

At a social event, he stopped me, my wife and my daughter, and praised my efforts in building the university. At that point my daughter wanted to be a veterinarian. When he heard that, he made an effort to track down an administrator who could be a key contact for her. He was unable to locate the individual, but his effort and his concern were very much appreciated.

Dr. Pumerantz was known for his hospitality. He hosted various events for faculty and staff during the academic year. During our orientation week, which he calls Welcome Week, he and his wife hosted an ice cream social because they wanted to greet all the incoming students and thank them for coming here. For many years this was held in his back yard, until we became too big. Now it is held on campus. But in spite of poor health, they continued to attend.

And following our opening ceremonies at the end of welcome week, he hosted a barbeque for the new students and their families, along with faculty and staff.

Finally, I have never heard Dr. Pumerantz speak publicly without praising his wife, Harriet. She has been his partner and his support, and has shared all of his achievements. He was quick to point out that he would not be where he is without her. If each of us were as quick to praise our spouses, this would be a better world.


I suspect that there may be some character flaws lurking beneath the surface. In fact, I suspect Dr. Pumerantz might point that out himself. But I have not worked closely enough with him to observe that. I don’t wish to insinuate anything negative; I just don’t want to claim that he can walk on water. I only know what I have seen; but I have seen enough to make me admire this great man as a leader and as a good person.

I have a deep sense of gratitude for the privilege I have had to work with Dr. Philip Pumerantz, and for the example he has provided to us. His legacy is one that will benefit all of us.




In the two-and-a-half years that have passed since I wrote this tribute, I still feel that deep gratitude for my connection with Dr. Pumerantz, and for the great privilege to be a small part of the remarkable university that he founded.

His passing leaves a hole in the hearts of all who have been a part of WesternU, one which osteopathic medicine cannot heal.

May we all do our best to continue the legacy which he has established, and continue taking the university, and our individual colleges, to new heights. I believe that is what Dr. Pumerantz would want.

I extend my condolences and deepest sympathies to Harriet and the Pumerantz family, and to all who knew and loved Dr. Pumerantz.

Requiescat in pace, Dr. Philip Pumerantz.



For further information, please see:






Posted by: 2thdocbob | 9 December 2017

Freedom is not a lack of accountability

Some of the millennial generation have built a bad reputation for themselves[i]. It seems that they seek a world without labor or discomfort; a world with everything provided to them immediately, or sooner; a world without consequences, where they makeup the rules as they go along. In short, a world without progress. I believe that this is one of the definitions of Hell.

Through the teachings of latter-day prophets, we learn that we voted against such a world some time ago, in the premortal council in heaven[ii]. Satan rebelled against Heavenly Father and His Plan for our salvation, and sought to enforce his plan for our eternal enslavement. It is very evident that Satan has not given up on this plan: in fact, he has redoubled his efforts in my generation, with alarming success.

With that understanding, it is no wonder that we see so much unhappiness in the world. It can be very difficult to choose between a life of continuous effort to follow Christ and a life of seeming ease and following one’s inner desires. As young men and women of faith face this dreadful dichotomy, it is no wonder that so many people become distressed, disheartened, and discouraged. It is a challenge to maintain the long-term vision when the opposing short-term vision seems so simple and so easy.

In order to make sense of this, we must go back to the beginning. We lived in heaven as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. Paul wrote to the Romans: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.[iii]

Our hope and happiness lie in knowing who we are, where we came from, and where we can go. We are eternal beings, spirit children of an eternal God. God has provided a plan for our lives since the beginning—a plan that, if followed, provides comfort and guidance now, as well as salvation and eternal happiness in our postmortal life.[iv]

Understanding these six points can help us live a happier life now and in eternity.

  1. God is the Father of our spirits. We are created in His image. We have a divine nature and destiny.
  2. Before we were born, we lived with God, the Father of our spirits. All persons on earth are literally brothers and sisters in the family of God.
  3. Our life on earth has purpose. Coming to earth is part of God’s plan for us to gain a physical body and learn to choose between good and evil.
  4. Our Heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Savior and show us the way to live according to God’s plan.
  5. Following God’s plan for us is the surest way to find happiness and endure life’s challenges.
  6. Our lives will not end when we die. Our future lives are determined by the way we live our lives now.[v]

This ongoing conflict hinges in large part on our agency and how we choose to exercise it. Agency is one of the greatest gifts God has given to us: the ability and the right to choose our own actions, with accountability required for those actions.

Of course, agency is not given without consequences. By natural law, there are outcomes associated with each choice we make: poor choices limit our agency, while good choices expand our agency. The choice is ours.

The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi taught his sons this truth:

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
“And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And 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, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
“Wherefore, [men] are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself[vi].”

This helps to make the picture much clearer. The choices we make will determine our destiny. “May we maintain the courage to defy the consensus. May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong[vii].”

As Christmas approaches, and we think about gifts, both given and received, I will be eternally thankful for God’s great gift of agency, which comes through the gift of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate.

[i] N.B.: I did not say all millennials, and we can certainly include members of other generations among this number.

[ii] If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a council in heaven, go to this link: https://www.lds.org/topics/council-in-heaven?lang=eng.

[iii] KJV, Romans 8:16.

[iv] https://www.lds.org/topics/plan-of-salvation?lang=eng&_r=1&old=true.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:25-27.

[vii] Monson, T. Choices. General Conference, April 2016. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/choices?lang=eng.

Posted by: 2thdocbob | 28 October 2017

I lift my lamp beside the golden door

One hundred thirty-one years ago today, on October 28, 1886, The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World was dedicated. It was a gift from France, in recognition of our being a land of liberty .

In the intervening years, some of my ancestors, as well as my wife’s grandmothers and parents, entered the United States through Ellis Island, and were inspired by the sight of Lady Liberty as they sought new opportunities in the new world.

Hurrah for Liberty

In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the dedication of this statue, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a gathering. I include his address in its entirety . I have italicized certain parts that deserve our attention today.

“Fifty years ago our old neighbor and friend from across the sea gave us this monument to stand at the principal eastern gateway to the New World. Grover Cleveland, President of the United States, accepted this gift with the pledge that ‘We will not forget that liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.’ During those fifty years that covenant between ourselves and our most cherished convictions has not been broken.

“Four hundred years ago, in Europe as well as in Asia, there was little hope of liberty for the average men of courage and goodwill. The ambitions of a ruling class and the times alike conspired against liberty of conscience, liberty of speech, liberty of the person, liberty of economic opportunity. Wars, dynastic and religious, had exhausted both the substance and the tolerance of the Old World. There was neither economic nor political liberty—nor any hope for either.

“Then came one of the great ironies of history. Rulers needed to find gold to pay their armies and increase their power over the common men. The seamen they sent to find that gold found instead the way of escape for the common man from those rulers. What they found over the Western horizon was not the silk and jewels of Cathay but mankind’s second chance—a chance to create a new world after he had almost spoiled an old one.

“And the Almighty seems purposefully to have withheld that second chance until the time when men would most need and appreciate liberty, the time when men would be enlightened enough to establish it on foundations sound enough to maintain it.

“For over three centuries a steady stream of men, women and children followed the beacon of liberty which this light symbolizes. They brought to us strength and moral fibre developed in a civilization centuries old but fired anew by the dream of a better life in America. They brought to one new country the cultures of a hundred old ones.


“It has not been sufficiently emphasized in the teaching of our history that the overwhelming majority of those who came from the Nations of the Old World to our American shores were not the laggards, not the timorous, not the failures. They were men and women who had the supreme courage to strike out for themselves, to abandon language and relatives, to start at the bottom without influence, without money and without knowledge of life in a very young civilization. We can say for all America what the Californians say of the Forty-Niners: “The cowards never started and the weak died by the way.”

“Perhaps Providence did prepare this American continent to be a place of the second chance. Certainly, millions of men and women have made it that. They adopted this homeland because in this land they found a home in which the things they most desired could be theirs—freedom of opportunity, freedom of thought, freedom to worship God. Here they found life because here there was freedom to live.

“It is the memory of all these eager seeking millions that makes this one of America’s places of great romance. Looking down this great harbor I like to think of the countless numbers of inbound vessels that have made this port. I like to think of the men and women who, with the break of dawn off Sandy Hook, have strained their eyes to the west for a first glimpse of the New World.

“They came to us—most of them—in steerage. But they, in their humble quarters, saw things in these strange horizons which were denied to the eyes of those few who traveled in greater luxury.

“They came to us speaking many tongues—but a single language, the universal language of human aspiration.

“How well their hopes were justified is proved by the record of what they achieved. They not only found freedom in the New World, but by their effort and devotion they made the New World’s freedom safer, richer, more far-reaching, more capable of growth.

“Within this present generation, that stream from abroad has largely stopped. We have within our shores today the materials out of which we shall continue to build an even better home for liberty.

“We take satisfaction in the thought that those who have left their native land to join us may still retain here their affection for some things left behind—old customs, old language, old friends. Looking to the future, they wisely choose that their children shall live in the new language and in the new customs of this new people. And those children more and more realize their common destiny in America. That is true whether their forebears came past this place eight generations ago or only one.

“The realization that we are all bound together by hope of a common future rather than by reverence for a common past has helped us to build upon this continent a unity unapproached in any similar area or population in the whole world. For all our millions of square miles, for all our millions of people, there ‘is a unity in language and speech, in law and in economics, in education and in general purpose, which nowhere finds its match.

“It was the hope of those who gave us this Statue and the hope of the American people in receiving it that the Goddess of Liberty and the Goddess of Peace were the same.

Freedom to live

“The grandfather of my old friend the French Ambassador, and those who helped him make this gift possible, were citizens of a great sister Republic established on the principle of the democratic form of government. Citizens of all democracies unite in their desire for peace. Grover Cleveland recognized that unity of purpose on this spot fifty years ago.

“He suggested that liberty enlightening the world would extend her rays from these shores to every other Nation.

“Today that symbolism should be broadened. To the message of liberty which America sends to all the world must be added her message of peace.

“Even in times as troubled and uncertain as these, I still hold to the faith that a better civilization than any we have known is in store for America and by our example, perhaps, for the world. Here destiny seems to have taken a long look. Into this continental reservoir there has been poured untold and untapped wealth of human resources. Out of that reservoir, out of the melting pot, the rich promise which the New World held out to those who came to it from many lands is finding fulfillment.

“The richness of the promise has not run out. If we keep the faith for our day as those who came before us kept the faith for theirs, then you and I can smile with confidence into the future.

“It is fitting, therefore, that this should be a service of rededication to the liberty and the peace which this Statue symbolizes. Liberty and peace are living things. In each generation—if they are to be maintained— they must be guarded and vitalized anew.

“We do only a small part of our duty to America when we glory in the great past. Patriotism that stops with that is a too-easy patriotism— a patriotism out of step with the patriots themselves. For each generation the more patriotic part is to carry forward American freedom and American peace by making them living facts in a living present.

“To that we can, we do, rededicate ourselves.”

Relighting the Statue of Liberty, July 3, 1986, Ronald Reagan said:

“I’ve always thought that a Providential Hand had something to do with the founding of this country, that God had His reasons for placing this land here between two great oceans to be found by a certain kind of people.”

John Adams wrote in his notes on A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765:

“I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

“America is another name for opportunity. Our whole history appears like a last effort of Divine Providence in behalf of the human race.”

Liberty stamp

A common theme in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Christ, is that America is a choice land.

The prophet known as “the Brother of Jared,” writing some 2200 years before Christ, recorded: “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, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written”(Ether 2:12). He also referred to the Americas as a choice land “which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people” (Ether 2:7).

Later in the Jaredite civilization, a reminder was given for our benefit as well as for those in those times: “And thus the Lord did pour out his blessings upon this land, which was choice above all other lands; and he commanded that whoso should possess the land should possess it unto the Lord, or they should be destroyed when they were ripened in iniquity; for upon such, saith the Lord: I will pour out the fulness of my wrath” (Ether 9:20).

In the sixth century before Christ, another civilization was led to the Americas from Jerusalem, with the promise: “thou beholdest that the Gentiles [the Europeans] who have gone forth out of captivity, and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations, upon the face of the land which is choice above all other lands, which is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance; wherefore, thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy … thy seed [Native Americans]” (1 Nephi 13:30; comments in brackets are mine).

As we commemorate the anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, may we remember the promise of America, as we have been reminded, both by great Americans and by Book of Mormon prophets who saw the destiny of America.

Adams J, A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law, 1765. http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/a-dissertation-on-the-canon-and-feudal-law/
Emerson RW, American Civilization, http://www.bartleby.com/90/1113.html.
Federer WJ, American Minute, October 28, 2017. http://web-extract.constantcontact.com/v1/social_annotation?permalink_uri=2gQ1zmJ&image_url=https%3A%2F%2Fmlsvc01-prod.s3.amazonaws.com%2F766c6672201%2F069ec989-88bd-4c0d-89fa-6dfa629a5f84.jpg%3Fver%3D1446431291000. Thanks to Bill for bringing this anniversary to our attention.
Reagan RW, Remarks on Relighting the Torch of the Statue of Liberty, 1986 http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=37550.
Roosevelt FD, Address on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, 1936 http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15210. All italics are mine.
The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Christ.

Posted by: 2thdocbob | 11 September 2017

Maintain Your Personal Structural Integrity


A heartbreaking moment in my life occurred sixteen years ago today on September 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed two passenger jets into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, causing them to collapse.

This was particularly painful to me, because when these towers were being built, I wanted to be an architect. I had just read Frank Lloyd Wright’s “The Story of the Tower,” when I became aware of the construction of these two great buildings.

I was fascinated watching pictures and reading accounts of the construction in Life Magazine and elsewhere. I never visited them, but I loved these towers.


Construction began for the World Trade Center in March 1966. The towers were topped off in December 1970, and they were dedicated in April 1973. I remember Philippe Petit walking the cable between the towers in 1974. We talked about that at school for days.


Their design and construction were unique at the time, and they became landmarks in the iconic New York skyline. They withstood a bombing in 1993, and resisted significant storms over the years.

The towers stood for over 31 years because of structural integrity; then, in the space of a few hours, they collapsed because their integrity had been disastrously compromised.


In the past two weeks, we have watched as the forces of nature compromised the integrity of many structures. Torrential rains, intense winds, and floodwaters combine to destroy the integrity of many structures. Earthquakes in other areas select the buildings that are compromised, either through design or neglect.

Architect David Allan Coe said: It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”[i]

It recalls the words of Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it”[ii].

The house that was built on a solid foundation stood firm.[iii]


Like the twin towers, we also stand or fall because of our integrity. Integrity fortifies us against the storms of life in a challenging world.

Like the wise man, we, too must build on a solid foundation. The solid, bedrock foundation of beliefs that undergirds our core values provides support in spite of storms and floods.


Integrity is built upon the foundation of our core values. If our core values are built on bedrock, the structural integrity of our lives will not be compromised, and we will not crumble under the onslaught of a serious storm.

Unlike the twin towers, our own integrity is never catastrophically compromised; rather, it happens little by little. Most commonly, poor choices allow our integrity to be eroded a little at a time until the foundation or the core of our moral structure can no longer support us.[iv]


Each individual should ask himself of herself these questions:

  1. Can you define your bedrock beliefs?
  2. Can you identify your core values?
  3. Do you have a personal core value statement?

And after these questions have been answered, then some equally important questions:

  1. Do you regularly review these foundational beliefs and core values?
  2. Are you true to these beliefs and values?
  3. Have you made choices that weaken your foundation or your core?

If we would avoid a tragic personal collapse, it is imperative that we identify and strengthen both our bedrock foundation, and our structural core. We must choose sound principles over the “cult of personality” and the fads and crazes of the self-improvement industry.

Moral values are not popular in our society. Standards of morality, and even standards of scholarship, of history and science are under attack. A society that persists in devaluing standards and moral values will, just like the individuals that make up the society, and just like these buildings, small and large, lose its structural integrity and suffer a disastrous collapse.

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.[v]

Stand firm, my friends!

I add in parting that the many skyscrapers in Chicago also have structural integrity.
The last time I stayed in Chicago, I found this note on my pillow:Wind warning

I experienced the creaking that night as a cold storm blew in from the north. It was just a little comforting to know that from my 26th floor room, the creaking and swaying was normal. I kept the card.

[i] https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/davidallan204305.html?src=t_stand

[ii] KJV, Matthew 7:24-27

[iii] It is important to remember that the first delay in construction on the World Trade Center came because the bedrock in that part of Manhattan was many feet deeper than first anticipated. The towers, too were “built upon the rock.”

[iv] Richard Nixon provided a highly visible example of this. See http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-watergate-trials-apostle-reflects-lessons-learned for a discussion of this from Elder D. Todd Christofferson, who was Judge Sirica’s law clerk when the extent of the scandal came to light. His comments (and you can download the text of his speech at the bottom of the news release) describe this.

[v] Attributed to many, but the origin is uncertain.

Posted by: 2thdocbob | 4 September 2017

A Life Lesson from Hummingbirds

Does (or did) your family’s mealtimes ever look like this?


Or like this?


Or has everyone left the table angry during a good meal?


And you kept on wishing it would look like this:


Or like this:


But frequently you were just grateful for an uneasy truce:


Sometimes everyone was behaving well and one tried to stir things up:


Or the one pop-up child just wouldn’t sit still:


And there was always the one who just kept on eating:


I would advise you to take a deep breath a learn to enjoy it. One day, mealtime will look like this:


And eventually like this:


So when mealtime feels like a family fight night, take a deep breath, smile, and remember that this is but a fleeting moment. Life will pass by as quickly as a speedy little hummingbird, and you will long for that unruly, crowded table.


No hummingbirds were harmed during the photography.

They were just doing what hummingbirds do, and these tiny creatures can be amazingly aggressive. It isn’t easy for three species (Allen’s, Anna’s, and Costa’s) to share a table. But amazingly, sometimes they do. It has been fascinating to watch their behavior since I first put up a feeder at my daughter’s request.

And they seem to tolerate me as that uncle with the camera who snaps pictures during family gatherings. Maybe they realize that I’m the one who feeds them.

Posted by: 2thdocbob | 20 August 2017

The Blessings of Tithing

I had the blessing of speaking to the Rancho San Bernardino Ward today. This is the Spanish-speaking ward in our stake. We have many long-time friends in this ward, and we love to see them.

When I began working in a particular dental office many years ago, the receptionist caught me one day and asked: “So you’re a Mormon?” to which I responded affirmatively. Her follow-up question surprised me: “So is it true that you give a tenth of your paycheck to your church?” I was happy to answer yes, and then tell her that it was because of my faith in God and his promises, that I considered it a blessing and not a burden. From then on, I sensed a deep respect from her, and from the other staff members in that office.

This is shorter than my other talks, because I had to allow time for the translator to speak. I appreciate good translators.


Good morning, brothers and sisters. I am happy to be here among friends who have always felt like family to me. It is a blessing to be here and to worship with you today.

I bring you greetings from President Garvin and his counselors. They love you and pray for you. They are grateful for your kind acts of service, and for your faithfulness.

I pray that the Holy Ghost will be with us as I speak so that you and I will be blessed by the things I say and by things we feel here in sacrament meeting.

Today, I would like to invite all of you who do not pay tithing to gain a testimony of the law of tithing. And I would like to invite all of you who do pay your tithing to strengthen your testimonies of this important law. I will tell you how to gain that testimony and how to help your children and grandchildren receive a testimony of tithing, too.

Whenever Heavenly Father wants to bless His children, he gives them commandments. That may sound strange. But all commandments from God have blessings attached. Each blessing is a promise to us, as a gift for our faith and our obedience.

When we obey each commandment, we strengthen our covenant relationship with God, and when we do this, our love for our Heavenly Father increases.

In Heavenly Father’s Plan for our eternal salvation and happiness, He expects us to make sacrifices. This has been true since the days of Adam and Eve. In our day, we covenant in the temple to sacrifice everything we have to help the work of the Lord move forward.

Right now, the Lord doesn’t ask for everything. We give our time as we serve in church callings and serve each other. That is a sacrifice. We share our talents and skills with those around us. We often think of people who can play musical instruments or who can sing and dance as people with talent. Drawing and painting are other talents. Another talent is teaching the gospel. You may be thinking “I don’t have any talents like that; maybe I am not talented; I have nothing to give.”

But we all have talents. Some of you can cook amazing meals. Isn’t that a talent? Some of you can make people happy with a smile or an “abrazo.” That is a wonderful talent. Heavenly Father expects us to use these talents to bless others. When the Relief Society President calls and asks you to bring food to a sister who is sick, that can be a sacrifice. But we feel good when we serve, and Heavenly Father is happy when we serve his children.

One of the most challenging commandments is the law of tithing. Please note that it is not a suggestion; it is a law from God. But like all laws from God, if we obey, we will receive great blessings. Each commandment has very specific blessings connected to it.

What are those blessings? How will we be blessed?

Let’s look at the law and the promised blessings.

The law of tithing is very simple: it is that we pay 10 percent of our income to the Lord. Please note that the tithe is not just any freewill offering, and it is not a 20th or some other fraction of our income.

Tithing must be done in the Lord’s way, or it is not tithing. If I do it my own way, I will not obtain the promised blessings.

Under the law of tithing, we are all treated equally by the Lord. The commandment is the same for all of us, and the blessings are the same, if we pay tithing.

The prophet Malachi asked the question:

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. …

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:8, 10-11).

What is Malachi saying to us? Let’s look at the important points.

First, why does he say that we are robbing God when we don’t pay our tithes and offerings? Because everything we have is a gift from God. Since he has given us everything, we can show our thanks by giving a little bit back to him.

Second, God invites us to test him. When he invites us to prove him, he is telling us “try it and see.” Do we have enough faith to do that? I testify that he keeps his promises.

Third, have you ever thought about the first part of the promise to us? The Lord has promised to “open the windows of heaven.” I invite each of you to ponder what that means to you. That will motivate you to act in faith.

Fourth, the Lord promises to pour out so many blessings that we will not have room to receive them. When we refuse to pay tithing, we are refusing those promised blessings. I will say more about that in a minute.

Finally, the promises in the last verse to rebuke the devourer for our sakes, and that our crops will be healthy and productive. That image meant a great deal to people who relied on farms and gardens. But what does it mean to us?

I believe that rebuking the devourer means that things we rely on will last longer. Perhaps our clothing will not wear out so quickly. Maybe we will not need to replace things so soon. Sometimes it means that we stay healthy enough to work. We have to look a little closer to recognize these blessings. But please remember that when things do wear out, or when we struggle with illness and other challenges, it does not mean that we are not faithful. Sometimes we have trouble paying all the bills. That does not mean we are unfaithful. Throughout our lives, the Lord will also give us tests and trials to see if we will continue to follow him.

The blessing of healthy crops was, and is, a blessing of prosperity. We are promised that if we pay our tithing, we will prosper.

President Hinckley spoke of this when he told the Filipino saints: “The Lord will keep His ancient promise in [your] behalf, and [you] will have rice in [your] bowls and clothing on [your] backs and shelter over [your] heads.”

He told another group of members: “Some of you have money problems. I know that. There is never enough money in your homes. I know that. You are struggling to get along. What is the cure? The only thing I know of is payment of tithing. Now, that doesn’t mean that you will have a Cadillac and a mansion. But it was God who made the promise that He would open the windows of heaven and pour down blessings upon those who walked honestly with Him in the payment of their tithes and offerings, and He has the capacity to keep His promise. It is my testimony that He does keep that promise”

It is important to remember that prosperity is not just about money and possessions. Prosperity is also about our spiritual health: about having firm testimonies of the Savior and of his gospel, and the power to live the gospel and to inspire our families to follow Christ. To have that strength is to prosper.

Most important is that we cannot enjoy the blessings of the temple unless we pay tithing. If I do not pay a full tithe, I will not lose my membership in the Church, but I will lose the blessings that Heavenly Father has promised me. And that includes the promise of an eternal family.

Sister Stevenson and I have been married almost 35 years. During that time we have always paid a full tithe. At times we struggled, but when we look back on those 35 years, we realize that we have always had a place to live; we certainly have not starved; I have always had a job, and I almost never take sick days. This is how we have been blessed by paying tithing. I do not say this to boast, but to express gratitude to Heavenly Father.

We also have the blessing to pay fast offerings every month. These consecrated funds bless members in our own wards and stake. Bishop De La Roca is blessed with the inspiration to use these sacred funds wisely. In addition to the blessings of paying tithing, we have been promised blessings of increased love and spirituality when we pay fast offerings.

We also have the opportunity to contribute to the missionary fund, to temple building, to helping with disasters, and to spreading the Book of Mormon. Each of these brings wonderful blessings as well. We must use wisdom in our contributions, but we know that what we give the Lord will be used appropriately.

The Lord doesn’t expect us to give everything we have, but he does expect us to do what we can.

Let me return to my invitation at the beginning of my talk. How can we receive a testimony of the law of tithing?

We receive it the same way we receive a testimony of any of God’s commandments: by keeping the commandment. We will receive a witness by paying tithing; by accepting the Lord’s promise and testing it.

In answering a challenge from the Pharisees, Jesus said,

“My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.

“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:16,17).

If we obey the law of tithing, we will gain a testimony of it.

Heavenly Father is not weak like we are. He keeps His promises.

At this point, I shared my testimony in Spanish, because I love my Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters. I believe that this helps them to feel that. If there are any accent marks missing, please forgive me.

Hermanos y hermanas, yo testifico que la ley del diezmo es de Díos. Cuando pagamos el diezmo, recibimos bendiciones de nuestro Padre Celestial. Yo sé que es un principio verdadero. No pagamos el diezmo porque temenos dinero; pagamos porque tienen fé. Cuando guardamos los mandamientos, seremos bendecidos.

Yo testifico que Díos vive. Él nos ama. Jesucristo es nuestro Salvador y redentor.

Hermanos y hermanas, les amo a ustedes. Doy gracias por la oportunidad de visitar con ustedes.

En el nombre sagrado de Jesucristo, amen.

Posted by: 2thdocbob | 21 May 2017

Reverence is more than just quietly sitting

I gave this talk on reverence today in Crestline Ward. My speaking companion was out of town, so I had to fill 45 minutes on my own. But I knew ahead of time and was prepared. I felt inspiration as I prepared this talk, and as I gave it. I hope that you will feel that as you read it.

I’m grateful that our stake includes three congregations in the mountains. It’s a special privilege to travel up to the beautiful chapels and enjoy the fresh air and the quiet surroundings.


My dear brothers and sisters, I am grateful to be with you today. I feel blessed whenever my speaking assignments brings me to our beautiful mountain wards, and I am able to worship with you.

I bring you the love and greetings from our Stake Presidency. They are mindful of you and are grateful for your faithfulness, and for your many acts of service, both seen and unseen.

I pray for the guidance of the Holy Ghost so that we may all be instructed of the Spirit. I testify that this instruction will come to those who seek it reverently.

This was taught to me here in this chapel several years ago when I was here for a speaking assignment. A couple in your ward had been wrestling with a significant challenge, and had been fasting and praying for guidance from the Brethren in General Conference. Following my talk, they came up to the stand and thanked me, as we often do.

But what they said next had a deep impact on me. They told me that I had been an answer to their prayers; that my message taught them what they had sought to know, before General Conference even came. I didn’t know of their challenges, but the Lord did!

This was a very humbling moment. I have always taken my speaking assignments very seriously, but since then, I feel an increased responsibility to know and to speak what the Lord would have me say to the members that I will address.

So if you feel that I am speaking just to you, I hope you understand that it isn’t me; it is the Spirit speaking to a prepared heart. And having a prepared heart isn’t a simple thing in this world.

We live in a world that has grown increasingly noisy. As the standards of the world become more lax, the noise increases. Like it or not, we all listen to rap and many other offensive noises. As the volume goes up, so does confusion and contention.

We can appreciate Elijah’s experience. He felt a great wind, an earthquake, and fire (sounds a little like our area, doesn’t it?), and the Lord was not in them. And after the fire there was a still small voice, and Elijah noted the contrast (see 1 Ki. 19:9-12).

Through all the noise and static, the still small voice of the Spirit is still present, softly requesting our attention. It calls to my mind a good blues song, called “God trying to get your attention.” The Spirit can be heard if we will learn to filter out the background noise. But we can’t just go online and buy a spiritual attenuator to reduce the noise. We must develop our own spiritual rectifiers to filter out the static and the background hiss of the world.

Satan knows that if he can drown out the still, small voice of the Spirit, he can defeat us.

The Lord has commanded his servants to stand in holy places that we may be able to withstand the evils of our day. How do we do this? We can’t just hide in the chapel or in the temple. We still have to live our lives; we still have to get out into the world.

It all starts with reverence. What is reverence? How will it help us? In Primary we sing:

“Reverence is more than just quietly sitting

It’s thinking of Father above,

A feeling I get when I think of his blessings.

I’m reverent, for reverence is love.

When I’m reverent, it shows in my words and my deeds.

The pathway to follow is clear.

And when I am reverent, I know in my heart

Heavenly Father and Jesus are near.”

Do we understand and practice these great truths?

Much of what we say in the Church about reverence focuses on being quiet in places of worship, with special emphasis on children being quiet. Being quiet is a key part of reverence, an important element. Quiet does not necessarily equal reverence.

Even though we use this building for many different activities, our chapels are houses of worship where we should be able to sit quietly during prelude music and meditate on the beauty of the restored gospel, prepare our hearts and minds for the sacrament, and ponder the majesty of our Heavenly Father and the splendor of the Savior’s Atonement. I will return to this theme again. These manifestations of our worship will naturally be accompanied by an attitude of reverence.

Do we feel this way as we enter these sacred halls?

Reverence begins with a love for our Heavenly Father. Just as our love for our earthly parents leads us to respect and to honor them, so our love for our Heavenly Father leads to reverence for him.

When we have reverence for Heavenly Father, we begin to ponder and to understand what He has done for us. We develop reverence for His plan, the wonderful plan for our eternal happiness that He has given us.

Reverence for the plan of salvation increases our love for Jesus Christ, and leads to a reverence for His mission as our Savior and Redeemer. As we ponder this, we begin to understand the wonderful gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We begin to “Marvel that he would descend from His throne divine,” and as we continue to ponder, we realize that he come down to “rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine.”

And it works in the other direction as well. Increased understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ gives us a greater appreciation for the plan of salvation, which increases our love for Heavenly Father.

As we reverently reflect on Christ’s Atonement, we accept and personalize this great gift. As we continue to reflect, we look forward to partaking of the sacrament each Sunday, and to renewing our covenants with the Father. We begin to desire to honor all our covenants, and to make and keep all the covenants that will help us to return to Him.

We lose the desire to sin and we continue to progress. Alma refers to this as a mighty change of heart.

With this increased desire to return to Heavenly Father, we also feel a respect and a reverence for all Heavenly Father’s children, and indeed, for all His creations. And we seek to bless their lives as well.

All this may come from being reverent!

Reverence doesn’t just LEAD us to ponder important gospel truths, it ALLOWS us to ponder and to understand them. Reverence opens the doors of our hearts to personal revelation and allows the Holy Ghost to witness of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to our hearts and minds. We come to know of the truth of the various elements that make up the gospel of Jesus Christ as well.

It is in these quiet moments that revelation comes. You have probably felt this yourself. In fact, it can come in no other way. That is why the Psalmist wrote “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). We absolutely must tune out the world to commune with Heavenly Father through His Spirit.

Enos, the son of Jacob, described his experience with this. You will remember that he went out hunting, probably on his own. It was this time alone that enabled him to ponder the things his prophet-father had taught him. He tells us:

“And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.

“Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

“And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

“And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away” (Enos 1:2-6).

I think that maybe the hunt wasn’t going so well for Enos, so he had some private time to think about things. The hungering of the soul that he described comes through reverence. As he reflected on the truths his father had taught him, in private, in quiet, these words touched his heart deeply.

The most frequently repeated commandment in the Book of Mormon is simply “remember.” Enos remembered, and found salvation. Do we remember?

Brothers and sisters, this attitude of reverence is so simple that we begin to learn it as young children. In spite of its simplicity, there is great power in reverence. It is in those quiet, focused moments that we receive great spiritual strength.

There were surely few quiet moments in the Smith household, yet Joseph found a way to study and to reflect on the scriptures. After reading the promise of James, he wrote:

“Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did …

“At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God” (JS-H 1:12,13).

This reflection that allowed this verse to enter into his heart with great force did not come during times of horseplay with his brothers, or during the conversations at mealtimes. No, Joseph had to find times to contemplate what he had read.

Joseph then found a quiet, sacred place to pray, and was visited by the Father and the Son, who answered his humble prayer personally.

Moroni challenged us to ponder the truths of the Book of Mormon and ask God if they are true (see Moroni 10:3-5). I am certain that for each of us, the promised witness came during quiet, reverent times.

Probably the most sacred time in our busy week is sacrament meeting. This brief time has been consecrated to the Lord for our benefit, so we can worship Heavenly Father, renew our covenants with Him, and feel His Spirit. This dedicated time is so important that observing it has been a commandment from the beginning.

In our dispensation, the Lord commanded:

“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;” (D&C 59:9-10).

More recently, these instructions were given in Handbook 2:

“Each sacrament meeting should be a spiritual experience in which members of the Church renew their covenants by partaking of the sacrament. Other purposes of sacrament meeting are to worship, provide gospel instruction, perform ordinances, conduct ward business, and strengthen faith and testimony.” (18.2.2)

Further, we read: “Leaders set an example of reverence during the time before sacrament meeting. The bishopric and the speakers should be in their seats at least five minutes before the meeting begins. This is not a time for conversation or transmitting messages. (My commentary here: please don’t bother the Bishop or his counselors during this five minutes: let them focus on feeling the Spirit before the meeting, too!)

“Members should be taught to make the time before sacrament meeting a period of prayerful meditation as they prepare spiritually for the sacrament. The bishopric encourages families to arrive on time and to sit together.” (18.2.2)

The Handbook specifies three groups of people who are responsible for the spiritual success of sacrament meetings: the Bishopric, the speakers (and music people), and the members.

First the Bishopric must carefully plan sacrament meetings to ensure that the Spirit will be present, and that the messages, both spoken and sung, will be in harmony with the Lord’s will. Moroni, in Chapter 6, described the process:

“And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done” (Moroni 6:9).

Occasionally emergencies will arise, but this planning should be done well in advance. That way, the Bishopric can sit down and invite the Spirit into their own hearts. They need this time more than the rest of us, because of the burdens they carry. Please let them worship, too.

I have also been in sacrament meetings when the Bishop felt prompted to make a small change that probably blessed someone in the congregation. If we intrude on this quiet time for the Bishopric, we may short circuit this inspiration.

Second, the speakers and those who provide music should be prepared to invite the Spirit into the meeting.

Appropriate prelude music should draw our thoughts to the Savior and invite us to ponder and feel reverent. But we must listen! As an organist, my offering to the Lord is not in technical ability, but in testifying through the hymns that I choose, and setting a reverent tone for the meeting. The hymns that are chosen should be appropriate.

Sacrament talks are not a time for jokes, opinions, or telling how the Bishop asked us to talk. As speakers, we are assigned to teach, to edify and to testify. This is a burden that weighs heavily on me as I prepare to fulfill a speaking assignment in my calling.

Third, we have a responsibility as members to add to the spirit of the meeting by our behavior: not just for our own benefit, but for that of others.

We should prepare for the sacrament, reflecting on the sacrament prayers, and the covenants found therein. We also should reflect on our own worthiness. Even a few brief moments on Saturday evening can make a difference to our sacrament experience.

The fifteen minutes before a meeting should not be a time to conduct business or to chit chat. Once in the chapel, we may greet each other reverently, but most conversations should take place outside the chapel. This time before sacrament meeting is a time to be seated and to invite the Spirit into our hearts.

Elder Packer warned us; “When we step into the chapel, we must! —each of us must—watch ourselves lest we be guilty of intruding when someone is struggling to feel delicate spiritual communications.”

Elder Robert C. Oaks, formerly of The Seventy, told this story: “My wife and I had been seeking spiritual instruction on a particular question in our lives. Thankfully, the answer came through the particular prelude hymn selected. In response to the sweet melody, the Spirit clearly indicated the appropriate course for us. Unfortunately, before the hymn had ended, someone sitting near me leaned over and started talking to me, and the Spirit immediately left. A treasure of sweet revelation was cut short by a lack of reverence” (Ensign, Dec. 2009).

Has something similar ever happened to you? Have you ever done that to someone else?

I am mindful of the words of one of our beautiful, unsung hymns, number 132:

God is in his holy temple.

Earthly thoughts, be silent now,

While with reverence we assemble

And before his presence bow.

He is with us, now and ever,

When we call upon his name,

Aiding every good endeavor,

Guiding every upward aim.

God is in his holy temple,

In the pure and holy mind,

In the reverent heart and simple,

In the soul from sin refined.

Banish then each base emotion.

Lift us up, O Lord, to thee;

Let our souls, in pure devotion,

Temples for thy worship be.

“Earthly thoughts, be silent now.” Have you ever thought that as you entered the chapel? Or the temple?

There is a critical need in our world to increase the frequency of these reverent, revelatory moments. As the potential distractions increase, it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on the things that matter most. In fact, just as young Joseph Smith experienced, when the moment is of great importance to our salvation, Satan will step in and try to distract us by any means possible.

It takes discipline to become a disciple. For many of us, that means we have to take control of our electronic devices that capture our attention. In order to become true disciples of Jesus Christ, we should probably consider mandating “electronic-free times” each day so that we can focus on the things of the Spirit. Surely our sacrament meetings should be one of these times.

Please do not permit electronics to block your eternal progression. Young people, if you feel bored, perhaps you need to look within and determine if you understand why we meet, and then prepare yourselves better for this sacred hour.

Reverence requires practice. I will be the first to tell you that it takes some discipline to stop thinking of a captivating tune in meetings. I have memorized Redeemer of Israel, and sometimes I need to go through all six verses in order to clear my mind of outside thoughts and earworms. But it works! When I go to the temple, I use O My Father, with the same results. The prelude music should also invite reverence.

Reverence can also strengthen the sense of unity in your ward. As we worship together, and as we pray together (please remember, saying “Amen” makes the prayer ours), and especially as we sing together, we become united in the spirit. I cannot overemphasize the importance of singing together. It is one of the few times in mortality where can feel that unity. It doesn’t matter if you can sing well or not. Singing will bring the Spirit quickly. This I know from many experiences. And I recall the words of Hymn 119, “Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God.” Don’t let yourselves be numbered in that group, brothers and sisters. Sing with us.

And think about the words to the hymns. I have been touched deeply when certain phrases penetrate to my heart.

We may feel reverence at different times and in different places. For example, I feel reverent when I am in these beautiful mountains. I feel reverence when I listen to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. I felt a reverent awe the first time I stood atop Mt. Whitney. I felt reverent the first time I extracted DNA in a science lab. I felt a profound reverence when I held a human brain in anatomy lab.  I even felt reverent when I visited St. Peter’s in Rome. I felt a reverence as I looked at Gutenberg’s Bible. I have felt a special reverence as I held each of our children and our grandchildren for the first time. I feel reverence every time I visit the grave of our little son in Salt Lake City, and an increased reverence as I look about that cemetery and see the graves of the Apostles and Prophets. I feel a special reverence each time I enter the sacred doors of the temple and leave my worldly cares outside. And most of the time, I feel reverent when I enter our beautiful chapels.

But true reverence doesn’t come from a place or a thing. It must come from within us. It is something that we can cultivate and develop. Reverence, like all other virtues, begins in the home.

As in all things spiritual, the Savior set the example for us. When he prayed, he hallowed or blessed his Father’s name. He zealously defended the sanctity of his Father’s house. All his words and actions reflected his reverence for the Father, and for his Father’s creations.

Brothers and sisters, are we following the Savior sufficiently? Do we feel the love and respect for our Heavenly Father that Christ exemplified? Do we feel a reverence for his house, for his children, for his servants and for all his creations? I feel certain that if we did, a great change would occur in our lives. We would grow in understanding, in truth, and in love for our fellowmen, and we would truly have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion. After all, the Lord has promised great blessings to all “who shall reverence [him] in [his] house,” (D&C 109:21) but he has said that our minds will be darkened if we treat holy things lightly (see D&C 84:54). Our behavior in the chapel will determine which direction we go.

When I was in dental school, I had a good friend named Mike Haynie. I love and respect this man for his wisdom and his maturity. One Sunday, we were leaving a Sacrament Meeting that seemed very ordinary, like so many others I had attended. Our two children were very young and fidgety, and like most young parents, we were probably focused more on keeping them still than on feeling the Spirit. As we walked to Sunday School, Mike came up beside me and said “wasn’t that the best Sacrament Meeting ever?”

That caught me by surprise. I still think about it, nearly thirty years later. The difference between Mike and me? I think that he had prepared himself to feel the Spirit, and I had prepared myself to get to church.

Yes, we wrestle with children and that distracts us, but that is such a short moment in our family’s life. Most of us have been there, and most of us understand the challenges that young parents are dealing with. I was very touched by the action of one sister in Lake Arrowhead Ward who noticed a young mother sitting alone with two fussy children. She walked over during the meeting and took the baby so that the young mother could give her attention to the older child and take him out. What a great example of Christlike love! And I am certain that the young mother returns to church each week because she felt the love and support of that good sister. This simple act added to the reverence of the meeting for many people.

In keeping with the spirit of reverence, we should also pray for those who lead and teach us. We have been counseled to ponder and pray before general conference that the speakers will be inspired to say things that will help us to solve our problems. What a difference it would make if we took the same approach to our regular Sunday meetings!

Instead of being critical of a teacher who is struggling, or a speaker who is rambling, or even worse, boring, shouldn’t we pray for them instead? I don’t know how many members pray for the High Councilors to give better talks, but I do. And I testify to you that I do feel the Lord’s direction as I prepare to speak each month.

We have the promise from the Lord that Zion and her stakes will be a place of refuge and protection from the evils of the world. As members of the San Bernardino California Stake of Zion, we have the right and the obligation to call upon God for his protection. I pray that we will have the faith and courage to do so.

In addition, I believe that it is our reverence that will help to protect our chapels and temples during these turbulent times. Time does not allow me to share stories of this, but please be assured, my brothers and sisters, that the Lord and his angels are watching over and protecting these sacred precincts.

Our homes should also be places of reverence. They should be places of refuge from the world, where we can feel safe and protected. Within the walls of our homes, the gospel is studied, personal and family prayers are said, and eternal family relationships are nurtured. This alone should make our homes the most sacred places on earth. Do our attitudes at home encourage our children and grandchildren to feel reverent and safe?

Of course, there are many things that are permissible in the home which we would not do at church. However, we can still make our homes a place where the Spirit of the Lord can dwell. And perhaps that is the very heart of reverence: striving to live so that the places we go will be places of peace and safety.

Indeed, if we cultivate a spirit of reverence, almost anywhere we stand can be a holy place.

Brothers and sisters, reverence is a very personal, individual matter. Each of us can make a difference, from the newest member to the Bishop. We can all affect the reverence in our wards.

Now let me return for a moment to our electronic companions. They seem to capture too much of our attention. They create a background noise that can drown out the still, small voice of the Spirit. That is something we cannot afford. It has never been more important to create a daily “quiet time” in which we set aside our cell phones, tablets, computers, and other devices and log on to the celestial web in order to hear the voice of the Spirit.

That quiet time is vital to our well-being as we study and ponder the Scriptures and commune with Heavenly Father in prayer. We cannot afford to be distracted from this. We all need the strength that comes from daily introspection, and we can’t get it any other way. If we fail to do so, we will lack the ability to withstand the increasingly negative influences of the world. Will you please make it a priority in your lives? I promise that if you do, you will experience great blessings in your lives, including an increased power to recognize and resist temptation and evil influences.

The Primary children sing a song (some of you may remember it) that we should all keep in mind:

“It shouldn’t be hard to sit very still

And think about Jesus, his cross on the hill,

And all that he suffered and did for me;

It shouldn’t be hard to sit quietly.

“I think of the miles he walked in the dust,

And children he helped to love and to trust;

It shouldn’t be hard to sit tall in my seat,

To listen politely, to quiet my feet.

“It shouldn’t be hard, even though I am small,

To think about Jesus, not hard at all.”

If our little ones can sit quietly, so can we.

I pray that we may be more reverent. I pray that our conduct will reflect our commitment to Heavenly Father and his plan, for reverence does come from within, and our reverence reveals what is in our hearts. It must disappoint Father at times to see how his children treat his house.

I testify that our Heavenly Father lives. He loves every one of his children with a perfect love. Considering what he has promised us, he asks for very little in return. Obeying his commandments is all he requires. Jesus Christ is his Son. He is our Savior. He made it possible for us to live again with our Father in Heaven, if we will follow his plan.

Of this I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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