Posted by: 2thdocbob | 19 August 2018

Strengthening Marriage, Home and Family

This talk was given on August 19, 2018 in the Highlands Ward in San Bernardino, California. As a member of the Stake High Council, it was my privilege to prepare and deliver this message.


Good morning, brothers and sisters, it is a privilege to be with today, to worship with you and to feel of your spirit. I am grateful for the long friendships that I have enjoyed with many of you.

I pray that Spirit will be with us this morning, that we all may be strengthened by this important message.


We have heard much about the importance of families over the last few years. I hope you are not tired of hearing it. The only thing more important in our Heavenly Father’s plan is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

We continue to study the Book of Mormon individually and as families. I love the Book of Mormon. I love to study it and to feel the spirit that comes from this great book of scripture. I testify to you that it is the word of God, given to us for our day.

The Book of Mormon begins with a family. Lehi’s family was probably an ordinary family in Jerusalem, perhaps wealthier than most. It becomes clear that even though dad was a prophet, they were not a perfect family. They had some serious struggles. Indeed, we may well call them a dysfunctional family.

In the Book of First Nephi, we learn that Lehi taught his family the gospel. Imagine what those family home evenings were like! He taught his children to work. They participated in wholesome recreational activities together: they went hiking, camping, and hunting. They even went on a cruise together, although they had to build the boat first.

Lehi remained true to gospel teachings, in spite of death threats from outside and inside the family. He did murmur against the Lord during the broken bow incidents but responded positively to Nephi’s chastisements, and repented.

We learn a great lesson in 1 Nephi Chapter 5, when Sariah criticized Lehi, and he responded “yes, dear, I know I’m a visionary man.” Brethren, that is a man to follow.

Despite all the struggles, Lehi kept his family together. We read that he exhorted them “with all the feeling of a tender parent.”[1] That phrase touches me deeply. His concern for both his wayward children and his obedient children lasted until his dying breath.

Why is this important to us?

First, it reminds us that the Book of Mormon was written for our day, with many lessons that we can learn and apply.

Second, through the Book of Mormon narratives, we can learn the doctrine of the family.

President Kimball spoke of the family in the opening address of October 1980 General Conference. He told us

“We have always understood that the foundations of the family, as an eternal unit, were laid even before this earth was created!

“Therefore, whenever anything so basic as the eternal family is imperiled, we have a solemn obligation to speak out, lest there be critical damage to the family institution by those who seem to be deliberately destructive of it.”[2]

Remember, this was in 1980!

He continued,

“The time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us.”

“There are those who would define the family in such a nontraditional way that they would define it out of existence.

“We of all people, brothers and sisters, should not be taken in by the specious arguments that the family unit is somehow tied to a particular phase of development a mortal society is going through. We are free to resist those moves which downplay the significance of the family … We know the family to be eternal. …

 “The decline in many of our families is occurring at a time when the nations of the world are moving into some of the most difficult times known.

“Our political institutions … cannot rescue us if our basic institution, the family, is not intact. Peace treaties cannot save us when there is hostility instead of love in the home. … Law enforcement cannot safeguard us if too many people are unwilling to discipline themselves or be disciplined.”[3]

Brothers and sisters, these are the words of a prophet of God, nearly 38 years ago.

How many of you have flown somewhere and heard the pilot warn of approaching turbulence and ask you to fasten your seatbelts? When you hear this announcement, you pay attention. The prophets have been asking us to fasten our spiritual seatbelts for as long as there have been prophets. And there is certainly turbulence today. These warnings have increased in frequency and in fervency in the last few years.

How can we effectively defend and protect our families and our homes?

First, we must understand what the doctrine of the family is, and what it is based on. We need to recognize the threats to the family, to marriage, and to the home so we know what we are fighting against and can prepare ourselves. And we need to remember our covenants and be true to them.

The doctrine of the family teaches us that the family is the basic unit for mankind here and in the eternities. We are children of a loving Heavenly Father who is a living example of this eternal law.

The Creation provided a place where families could live. God created a man and a woman who were the two essential halves of a family. And it was a part of his plan that Adam and Eve be sealed and form an eternal family themselves.

The Fall provided a way for the family to grow. Adam and Eve chose to have a mortal experience and to honor their covenant to multiply and replenish the earth. And what a privilege it is to be descended from these amazing people!

The Atonement allows for the family to be sealed together for eternity. The plan of happiness, or the plan of salvation is centered in the family.

When we speak of qualifying for eternal life, it means qualifying for the blessings of eternal families. These blessings are available to all who are faithful, even if they have not had the opportunity to enjoy these blessings in this life.

This privilege was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, as described in the Doctrine & Covenants:

“Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

“And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.

“If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.”[4]

These verses speak of temple blessings—the ordinances and covenants without which “the whole earth would be utterly wasted.” I find it significant that these verses are the only verses which can be found in each of the four Standard Works. That gives us a sense of the importance of this message.

Through the restoration of priesthood keys, we may receive the promises of eternal life in family units through our temple covenants.

In these temple covenants, we are also promised the blessings of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What are these blessings?

In Abraham, Chapter 1, Abraham tells us that he sought “the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer; … to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, … and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.”[5]

These blessings come only to those who have a temple sealing and marriage. A man cannot become a “father or many nations” without being sealed to his wife. And he could not hold the right belonging to the fathers without a wife who held the right belonging to the mothers.

These covenant blessings are all contingent upon our righteousness.

Finally, we need to understand that forming families and bearing and rearing children is a faith-based work. I’m not sure that this principle is evident to many of our young people. Or perhaps they are uncertain of their own faith.

I know that in our marriage, we acted in faith in our decision to marry, and in our decision to have children. We trusted in the Lord’s promises as we moved forward and have been richly blessed already.

This is the doctrine of the family. But how do we build on that foundation? It is too easy to use the standard answers, to say, “follow the Spirit, keep the commandments, love one another, pray, study the scriptures and hold family home evening.” It is much more difficult to do it. And there is more to it than that.

I would like to share some practical ideas on strengthening home, family and marriage.

As parents, we should live and teach with so much clarity that our teachings cut through the noise and interference that the youth are hearing from the world and so that it will pierce their hearts and touch them. We need to walk the talk and avoid sending mixed messages. Our youth will pick up on that very quickly. As parents, our teaching should be in harmony with the gospel, and definitely in harmony with each other.

Julie B. Beck counseled us to “live in your home so that you’re brilliant in the basics, so that you’re intentional about your roles and responsibilities in the family. Think in terms of precision, not perfection.”[6]

In other words, it doesn’t matter so much if our efforts are less than perfect, as long as we are consistent in having family prayers, family home evening, family scripture study, family singing and other activities that build faith. Through that consistency our children and grandchildren will gain a firm foundation. If we treat these events as unimportant, that message will be heard loud and clear. And we should do our best to make it enjoyable, leading “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;”[7] not by force or intimidation.

And don’t forget to have fun as a family. That must not be overlooked.

Of course, we all have our agency. And some of our children may choose not to follow us. Lehi dealt with that. Even Heavenly Father lost a third of his children. I would hesitate to call him a failure. But if we remain true and faithful to our covenants, we have a promise, which was stated so beautifully by Elder Orson F. Whitney:

“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”[8]

This is beautiful doctrine, and the Spirit has testified to me that this is true.

Elder Robert D. Hales told us that “the key to strengthening our families is having the Spirit of the Lord come into our homes. The goal of our families is to be on the strait and narrow path.”[9]

We have been counseled to make our homes a safe place where each family member feels love and a sense of belonging. Our homes should be sanctuaries from the world.

Satan is raging in the world, but we should not allow him to enter into our homes. There should be no place for him there.

President Nelson encouraged Church members to hang certain reminders of the plan of salvation in their home: “I invite the members of the Church to place on the walls of their homes pictures of their family, pictures of their grandparents, pictures as a couple, pictures of their children, and pictures of the temple. These all symbolize God’s eternal plan. It’s all about the family.”[10]

We also need to invest time in our most important relationships: our spouse, children, and grandchildren. I would suggest that the world’s concept of “quality time” is not in keeping with the gospel—it is an excuse. Scheduling an occasional hour is not adequate for eternal relationships. Sufficient time and effort should be given to strengthening our relationships with family members: to teaching the gospel, helping children and grandchildren set goals and lift their sights, to providing encouragement, and to developing common interests.

In my family, my mom had us takes turns doing Sunday dinner dishes with her. It was many years later that I learned that this was her chance to visit with us one on one on a regular basis. And we also learned to do some basic housework. When her grandchildren were old enough, she was patient enough to let them help with baking, and bonds were created.

I recall my mom taking us with her as she did her visiting teaching assignments during the summer. My dad was my home teaching companion throughout my youth, and when he was a Stake Missionary, I frequently accompanied him on visits. My parents taught me to serve others, and to magnify even the challenging church callings.

Heidi spends time talking with our grandchildren who can converse and sings and plays with the grandchildren who aren’t yet conversational. She recently asked our oldest grandson, who is eight, what his favorite thing was to do. He responded, “be a family.” What a mature and gratifying answer!

It is also important to help our children and grandchildren to value themselves for who they are. If they see themselves as children of God, they will be more accepting of others, both in and out of the church. We should help them to understand and respect honorable manhood and womanhood, as well as the God-given expectations connected to each role.

We should ask ourselves, what is the next ordinance? For ourselves, our children, or our grandchildren. It may be baptism, priesthood ordination, or temple ordinances. For some the next ordinance needed might be the sacrament. As family members, we can help other family members plan and prepare as they progress on the pathway to eternal life, as Elder Hales advised us.

And that, perhaps, is the most important role we have as family members, to strive together to stay on the path that leads to eternal life.

The Ward Motto of the Crestline Ward is; “It’s all about a Christ-centered family.” These are good words to live by whether we adopt it as a personal motto or goal, or simply recognize its truth.

Strengthening family, home and marriage in the public arena goes hand in hand with protecting our religious freedoms. The scriptures and the prophets have taught that it is through personal righteousness that we will preserve our religious freedoms. Through our personal righteousness, we will not only strengthen our own families, but also strengthen the family in society. We need to let our lights shine.

It is not necessary for us to be politically active. Our own righteous acts and other service will serve as the leaven in our society and help to preserve the institutions that we value.

I testify that the family is the foundational unit of Heavenly Father’s kingdom. Heavenly Father created the family in order for us to be happy, both now and in the eternities to come. If we are true to the covenants we have made, we will obtain all the blessings that Heavenly Father has promised to us through obedience to his plan. He loves us and wants us to return to him.

I pray that we will be true and faithful in living these important doctrines.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


[1] The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ; 1 Nephi 8:37.

[2] Kimball, SW; Families Can Be Eternal; October 1980 General Conference,

[3] Ibid.

[4] Doctrine & Covenants 2:1-3.

[5] Pearl of Great Price; Abraham 1:2.

[6] Beck, JB; Teaching the Doctrine of the Family; Ensign, March 2011;

[7] Doctrine & Covenants 121:41. See also verses following.

[8] In Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110. See also Faust, JE; Dear Are the Sheep that Have Wandered; April 2003 General Conference.

[9] Hales, RD; Strengthening Families: Our Sacred Duty; April 1999 General Conference.

[10] LDS Living;

Posted by: 2thdocbob | 4 July 2018

America, May God Shed His Grace on Thee

The goodness in the hearts of Americans and the actions that goodness drives are worth celebrating.

This has been adapted from an opinion piece in the Salt Lake City Deseret News. I have followed the original structure and included most of the text as originally written, but have added my own thoughts to it. The original article may be referenced here.


Over the last decade there has been increasing criticism, even among our own leaders, of the values that built the United States of America. Too many Americans focus on their own perceived grievances and entitlements instead of focusing upon their duties as citizens. Civility has all but vanished from public discourse. Even our governing bodies tend to set aside compromise and the best interests of nation in favor of personal interests and personal gain.

At times the future looks cloudy. Is there still hope?

Is there anything left in America worth celebrating?

Deseret News answers with a resounding yes. I agree wholeheartedly.

Charles Krauthammer regularly declared that this nation, warts and all, is special. He most accurately defined why the country is worth celebrating when he wrote, “America is the only country ever founded on an idea. The only country that is not founded on race or even common history. It’s founded on an idea and the idea is liberty. That is probably the rarest phenomena in the political history of the world; this has never happened before. And not only has it happened, but it’s worked. We are the most flourishing, the most powerful, most influential country on Earth with this system, invented by the greatest political geniuses probably in human history.”

The idea of liberty is certainly worth celebrating.


Whatever our views on immigration right now, we should celebrate the fact that America continues to be a beacon to freedom-loving people around the world.

The goodness in the hearts of the people of America and the actions that goodness drives are worth celebrating.

Americans regularly donate millions of dollars and countless hours to lift the poor, serve the suffering and strengthen those in need, not just in our own country, but throughout the world. Our people are among the most charitable people on the planet and are often the first on the scene of a natural disaster, first to volunteer, first to contribute and first to rally others to lend a hand. Even our military is involved actively in providing relief after significant foreign disasters.

The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Such a declaration is worth celebrating. Every single day.

Equality, life and liberty are worth celebrating.

The pursuit of happiness, even though it is largely misunderstood in principle and practice in our society, is worth celebrating.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Happiness is the aim of life, but virtue is the foundation of happiness.” To Jefferson, the pursuit of happiness went much deeper than momentary emotional feelings or personal pleasure.

Not many years later, the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.”[1]

Many of us have learned that by creating happiness for others, we create happiness for ourselves.

Americans who find true happiness by creating happiness for others are worth celebrating.

The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness could only occur in a nation which was founded on these freedoms. It has been restored in its fullness with all the gifts, power, and authority that existed in the early church. It could not have happened elsewhere. This is certainly worth celebrating.

As the close of the declaration expresses, those who have pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor are worth celebrating.

The American citizens who have sacrificed much in defense of freedom are worth celebrating. And those who have sacrificed all are worth remembering and celebrating. Many of our own ancestors sacrificed all they had to provide their families, us, with the freedoms we often take for granted.

Handcart pioneers

Those who have sacrificed their lives, those who have lived with the sacrifice of a lost loved one, those who have sacrificed a limb, those who have sacrificed a life of ease, those who have sacrificed time and material comfort — all for the cause of liberty — are worth celebrating.

If Americans continue to defend their freedoms, a future generation will celebrate their efforts as they celebrate their own freedoms.

In spite of international turmoil, in spite of crises of addiction and despair, in spite of widespread anger, discord and division, there is much worth celebrating this July Fourth and every day.

The United States of America, the eternal principles of liberty and the resilient spirit of the American people are still the last best hope on earth.

America and its people are absolutely worth celebrating.


[1] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 255–56.


Posted by: 2thdocbob | 20 May 2018

Finding Peace in A Troubled World

I was privileged to speak in the Rancho San Bernardino Ward this morning. I feel a wonderful connection with my Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters there. I am especially grateful to Freddie Peterson for translating for me. He did a great job. As is my habit, I did bear my testimony is Spanish at the end.

Brothers and sisters, I am thankful to be here, to worship with you, and to feel of your spirit this morning.

I bring you love and greetings from President Garvin. You have felt that love as you have met with him.


We live a troubled world. There are difficulties all around us. The world is full of confusion and chaos. Satan is trying to shake our faith. He will do everything he can to pull us away from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

How do we find hope in such a troubled world? How can we remove ourselves from the problems of this world and find peace?

Helaman taught his sons: “Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Hel. 5:12).

That is the key. That is the simple answer to our problem. But how do we build on that rock?

It begins with faith.

First, we must have faith in God.

I am a child of God. We love this song. We sing it, but do we believe it? Are the words written on our hearts? Do we feel something special when we hear it? Do you know that you are a child of God? Do you know that he is your Father, and that he loves you with a perfect love?

This is where peace begins.

Second, do you have faith in Jesus Christ?

In Alma, Chapter 5, Alma asked some significant questions that we should ask ourselves.

“Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
“I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?” (Al. 5:15, 16).

In other words, do we have faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ? Do we have faith in the plan of salvation?

If I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior (and I do!) then I can feel peace, knowing that he has atoned for my sins and weaknesses, and all my problems, and that he will help me to bear them.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ will help each of us to bear our burdens in life. He may not make them go away, but if we ask, he will make our burdens lighter, just like he did for the people of Alma: “And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15).

Just as with the people of Alma, the Lord will help us to bear our burdens if we ask in faith.

Third, can you recognize the voice of the Holy Ghost? Can you understand his voice?

The language of the Spirit is not our mother tongue – we must learn to understand it – but we can learn it by paying attention to our feelings. It is a great blessing to each one of us that the Holy Ghost can communicate in any language. English, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, it doesn’t matter. The Holy Ghost can teach us and guide us in our own language.

In Doctrine and Covenants, Section 1, the Lord testifies to us: “Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding” (D&C 1:24).

But it takes practice to hear the Spirit whisper to us amid all the shouting in the world. And it takes practice to know what the Spirit is telling us.

Most important, the Spirit will whisper peace to our souls during difficult times in our lives. This is why he is called “the Comforter.”

I testify that he does indeed comfort our hearts. I have experienced it many times in my life.

Fourth, do you follow the living prophet?

Do you have a testimony that President Russell M. Nelson is the living prophet of God today? Are you willing to receive his words in faith, and obey them?

When I hear President Nelson speak, I know that he is a prophet. I feel his authority from God, and feel his love for me, and for each of you. And I feel peace and happiness.

We have been promised that if we follow the prophet, we will have safety and peace.

Fifth, do we hold to the rod?

What does that mean?

In Nephi’s vision, he explained “And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.” (1 Nephi 11:25).

What is it that leads us to the tree of life, to the love of God? It is the iron rod, which represents the scriptures: the word of God.

If we study the scriptures every day, if we stay close to the Savior, and if we don’t let go of the rod, we will have peace, even if the people in the great and spacious building, which represents the world, are mocking us. We must have the faith and the strength to ignore them.

Another important part of holding to the rod is observing the Sabbath.

Heavenly Father gave us the Sabbath day to help us to escape from the world. The Sabbath is a day to remember the Lord and his blessings to us.

The Sabbath is a day to renew our covenants with the Lord by partaking of the sacrament. When we say “amen” to the sacrament prayers, we promise to “always remember him and keep his commandments…” and we are promised that we “may always have his Spirit to be with [us]” (D&C 20:75-77).

In this crazy world, it isn’t easy to always remember the Savior, as we promise each week, but if we do our best to remember him, we will feel the peace of the Spirit. What a wonderful blessing!

Sacrament meeting and our other meetings give us an opportunity to refocus on what is truly important.

The Sabbath is a good day to minister to our brothers and sisters, to study the gospel, to be with family, to do family history, and to remember the Savior and all he has done for us. Remember that Christ “went about doing good” (Acts 11:38). We should try to do the same.

For many of us, the Sabbath is a chance to rest from our labors. Personally, I try not to think about work on Sunday. I don’t look at my work email, I don’t watch sports, and I try to listen to music that brings me closer to Christ. To me, that means church music and gentle classical music. I want to feel the Spirit of sacrament meeting all day long.

Remember that the Sabbath day doesn’t end when our block of meetings ends. I feel that my life is blessed by honoring the Lord’s day.

To summarize, we can feel peace through:

  1. Faith in God;
  2. Faith in Jesus Christ;
  3. Recognizing the voice of the Holy Ghost;
  4. Following the living prophet;
  5. Holding on to the iron rod;
  6. Keeping the Sabbath day holy.

Hermanos y hermanas, yo testifico que ésta es la iglesia verdadera de Jesúcristo. Yo sé que José Smith era un profeta de dios. Russell M. Nelson es nuestro profeta viviente hoy. Él habla con dios.

Yo sé que El Libro de Mormón es la palabra de dios. Contiene el evangelio de Jesúcristo.

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.

De eso les testifico, en el nombre sagrado de Jesucristo, amen.


Posted by: 2thdocbob | 6 May 2018

Of Walls and Integrity

This is a post about integrity, not a post about politics.

The Great Wall of China has an interesting history, with much tradition. It was supposedly built to keep out the invading hordes to the north. It was thought to be so strong as to be impenetrable, and too long to circumvent. But it was penetrated, not once, but three times, during the Song, Jin, and Ming Dynasties.


It was not breached or scaled. The enemy is said to have simply bribed those who had responsibility to “keep the gates.”[i] In fact, there is mention of a traitor at the gate, General Wu Sangui, who switched sides when he realized that defeat to the Manchus was inevitable.

When I read this story, it made me think of another great military story, which I have read and reread many times, in The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.


At the end of the Book of Alma, in The Book of Mormon, the reader is confronted with a series of chapters describing a lengthy war between the Nephites and the Lamanites (who are actually led by a group of dissident Nephites). Mormon, the compiler of this ancient record, was led by the Spirit as he chose which of the extensive records to include. The title page of the Book of Mormon informs us that the book was written for us in our day.

Ezra Taft Benson, a modern-day prophet, testified:

“The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times. It was meant for us. Mormon wrote near the end of the Nephite civilization. Under the inspiration of God, who sees all things from the beginning, he abridged centuries of records, choosing the stories, speeches, and events that would be most helpful to us.

“Each of the major writers of the Book of Mormon testified that he wrote for future generations.”[ii]

One of the important lessons for us comes early in the war chapters. The rebellion of Amalickiah, who left the Nephites and led a conspiracy to murder the king of the Lamanites and take his place, is described. He then used his operatives to “inspire the hearts of the Lamanites against the people of Nephi.”[iii]

Meanwhile, we read of the efforts of Captain Moroni, the military leader of the Nephites to prepare his people for the eventual war. “Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.”[iv]

Of course, Moroni made an effort to strengthen both the Nephite armies and their fortifications.[v] But in addition to the physical preparations, he knew that spiritual preparation was the key to their survival. We are also told “And thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians.”[vi]

The record continues with a description of Moroni and his fellow leaders.

“And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
“Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
“Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.
“Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.”[vii]

Moroni’s brothers in arms were described in this fashion:

“Now behold, Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni; for they did preach the word of God, and they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words.
“And thus they went forth, and the people did humble themselves because of their words, insomuch that they were highly favored of the Lord, and thus they were free from wars and contentions among themselves, yea, even for the space of four years.”[viii]

It scarcely seems necessary to comment that such leaders are as common today as oysters in the Sahara.

The record also includes a description of the people and their faith:

“Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.
“And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;
“And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.”[ix]

This is a good to how a righteous people should view their nation’s defense. I note that they had no hesitation to arm themselves, but their reliance was on God’s strength. This is a lesson that the Nephites’ forefathers, the Israelites, never seemed to grasp throughout their Old Testament wars, that they should trust in their God to deliver them.

The record continues with a description of the Nephites’ attitude toward war, and their justification for it.

“Now, they were sorry to take up arms against the Lamanites, because they did not delight in the shedding of blood; yea, and this was not all—they were sorry to be the means of sending so many of their brethren out of this world into an eternal world, unprepared to meet their God.
“Nevertheless, they could not suffer to lay down their lives, that their wives and their children should be massacred by the barbarous cruelty of those who were once their brethren, yea, and had dissented from their church, and had left them and had gone to destroy them by joining the Lamanites.
“Yea, they could not bear that their brethren should rejoice over the blood of the Nephites, so long as there were any who should keep the commandments of God, for the promise of the Lord was, if they should keep his commandments they should prosper in the land.”[x]

These wars were prolonged by dissension from within, as a group dubbed “the Kingmen” sought to usurp power from those who became referred to as “the Kingmen.” The distractions caused by the Kingmen nearly led to the downfall of the Nephites, much like the traitorous actions of the gatekeepers of the Great Wall.

Although the Chinese rulers were focused on the enemy without, they failed to look to the integrity of those within. Moroni focused on both, but because freedom of choice is one of the most basic freedoms, he still had to deal with those who lacked integrity.

This is a great lesson for us, today. The best way to avoid war is to be well-armed and obedient to the commandments of God. However, we should be willing to defend ourselves, our families, our homes, and our right to worship, by whatever means the Lord should command us.

As we seek to preserve our liberties, we must never forget our God, the source of our liberties, and our Savior, Jesus Christ, who freed us from the bondage of sin and death. This focus will preserve our own integrity and help to shape the integrity of our own society as well. We must build our walls, but we must ensure the incorruptibility of that which is within the walls.


[i] See Great Wall of China History and Facts,, and The Failure of the Great Wall,

[ii] The Book of Mormon – Keystone of Our Religion, General Conference, October 1986.

[iii] Book of Mormon, Alma 48:1.

[iv] Ibid., Alma 48:7.

[v] Ibid., Alma 48:8-9.

[vi] Ibid., Alma 48:10.

[vii] Ibid., Alma 48:11-13, 17.

[viii] Ibid., Alma 48:19-20.

[ix] Ibid., Alma 48:14-16.

[x] Ibid., Alma 48:23-25.

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?

[2] A Message from the First Presidency. Transcript.


[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:

[iii] KJV, Romans 8:16.


[v] Ibid.

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

[vii] Monson, T. Choices. General Conference, April 2016.

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.
Emerson RW, American Civilization,
Federer WJ, American Minute, October 28, 2017. Thanks to Bill for bringing this anniversary to our attention.
Reagan RW, Remarks on Relighting the Torch of the Statue of Liberty, 1986
Roosevelt FD, Address on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, 1936 All italics are mine.
The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Christ.

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