The natural man cannot see the opportunities to do good.

My brothers and sisters, I declare to you, however, that there is nothing which can bring more joy into our lives or more peace to our souls than the Spirit which can come to us as we follow the Savior and keep the commandments. That Spirit cannot be present at the kinds of activities in which so much of the world participates. (Pres. Thomas S. Monson, General Conference, October 2011, Sunday Morning Session)

I passed over the full implication of this statement in the first reading. Many activities that have to do with money and how to spend it, how to beautify one’s self, and one’s surroundings.

I like the quote from CS Lewis where he talks about how our charitable contributions should cause us to experience a degree of discomfort or sacrifice. (Find the quote.) I also like the assurance recently offered by Pres. Eyering who reminded me of the words of other inspired leaders:

President Marion G. Romney said of welfare work, “You cannot give yourself poor in this work.” And then he quoted his mission president, Melvin J. Ballard, this way: “A person cannot give a crust to the Lord without receiving a loaf in return.”


I have found that to be true in my life. When I am generous to Heavenly Father’s children in need, He is generous to me.


A second gospel principle that has been a guide to me in welfare work is the power and blessing of unity. When we join hands to serve people in need, the Lord unites our hearts. President J. Reuben Clark Jr. put it this way: “That giving has … brought … a feeling of common brotherhood as men of all training and occupation have worked side by side in a Welfare garden or other project.”


(Pres. Henry B. Eyering, General Conference, April 2011,  Saturday Morning Session)


To Do: I am reminded of the importance of studying and understanding welfare principles. I need to become better minded in these matters.

5.2 Convert Retention

Three things that converts, and all members of the Church, need to stay active:

  1. friendship
  2. opportunities to mature and serve in the Church
  3. nourishing by the word of God.

Bishopric’s responsibilities to accomplish this includes

  • facilitating fellowshipping opportunities
  • assigning callings to each new adult member.
  • ordaining worthy male converts to priesthood office.

Ward Council helps by discussing ways to help new members feel:

  • the love of other members.
  • the joy of serving in the Lord’s kingdom.
  • the peace that comes from living gospel principles.

Ward council can also discuss possible service opportunities in family history or temple work.

The bulk of the work of convert and new member retention should rest on the Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders.

Gospel Principles Class should be attended by new converts for a few months. No specific time frame is given beyond that. It impresses me that there should be an emphasis on teaching from the Book of Mormon in this class using it as the main support to the lesson manual. Another aspect of this class is to encourage members to be reading regularly from the Book of Mormon.




First Presidency Message: The Choice to Be Grateful

The Choice to Be Grateful, by President Henry B. Eyering, Ensign December 2011

This past week, I had the opportunity to put this teaching into practice in my own life. I prayed specifically to know who I could go and help. When the answer came I was able to go and spend time with that person.

From my journal entry “7 & 8 December 2011” –

Yesterday, in my prayers, I was following the counsel from Pres. Eyering’s message in the December Ensign, specifically to pray for others who I might be able to help. Doing so, Pres. Eyering promised the blessing of gratitude for acting on such promptings


I felt strongly that I should go follow up with [a family in the ward]. Being there I don’t know if I actually helped any, but afterwards and this morning, it became more apparent to me the blessings that I am enjoying which probably could be had more abundantly in their home. This realization caused me to cinsider even more the blessings that are mine, so much so that at one point in my work day today I felt nearly overwhelmed with joy as I realized that my happiness can be directly attributed to the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps, overwhelmed with joy is the wrong way to state that, but I know now why am able to feel joy and peace. It is yet another reminder of the abundant blessings of the Lord that no matter how hard I try I will not be able to repay.


FHE: Welcome to Zion

Rachel suggested that we do a family home evening lesson on Zion and what it means to establish Zion. Point to her patriarchal blessing and discuss that with the children.

Here is where you will prepare for that assignment…

Maybe take them on a car ride around the neighborhood and tell them we’re going to Zion. Maybe send a letter to our family that Talks about Zion and making our home like Zion.

Watch a clip from the video Legacy that talks about when they went to Zion.


26 December 2011

Dear Brother Leavitt,

You and your family are hereby called to come to Zion and establish a home in Zion. It will not be easy, but we cannot under emphasize the importance of starting immediately. Your assignment is expected to last a life time. To establish Zion in your home will require your very best efforts on your part and on the part of every member of your family.

As you do so you will feel an increase of the Spirit of the Lord in your home. We encourage you to use the kindest words possible when talking with one another. Especially. when you are angry. Do not fight, but be patient with one another and the windows of Heaven will be open to your home.Others will feel that they are in Zion when they are in your home.

To accept this invitation to establish Zion, proceed immediately to your car and drive around the neighborhood looking for clues on how to establish Zion in your home. Do not delay!

The Brethren

Make a sign that says “Welcome to Zion”



Find five scriptures or quotes about Zion:

-“let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—the pure in heart;” D & C 97:21

-“Zion shall be redeemed, although she is chastened for a little season” D & C 100:13

-“And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion;” Moses 7:69

– “And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost;” 1 Nephi 13:37

-“They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion” D & C 101:18

-“And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.” D & C 45:70

-“And the Lord called his people aZion, because they were of bone heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” Moses 7:18

-“And the Redeemer shall come to Zion” Isaiah 59:20


Maricopa Stake Conference Notes 3 & 4 December 2011

Bishop David H. Burton was the presiding general authority at our stake conference this weekend. He was on assignment from President Boyd K. Packer.

Saturday Priesthood Leadership Session

President Lewis, our stake president, reviewed of “The Family: a Proclamation to the World” on the topic of a father’s responsibilities. “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”

  • Provide for the necessities of life.
  • Provide protection > How do we provide this protection?

This last point brought some open conversation from the congregation. President Tyler Wright (our Elders’ Quorum president) offered a sober experience of how he had to offer physical protection to his family just the night before with the use of a gun. Then he also talked about preparing his daughter spiritually for baptism. Bishop Weyrauch (Maricopa 4th Ward) also mentioned the spiritual protection that we need to provide our families in the face of today’s media influences and all the other messages that are abounding. His remarks were pointed out by Bishop Burton later on, which caused me to give pause and deeper consideration to the thought.

Doctrine and Covenants 109: 22 – We go forth from the temple armed with power.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:27-30 – Unity/Unanimity, vs 30 is the key in explaining how this is to be achieved. It is almost identical to the powers described in Section 121:41 & 42.  The greatest blessing are given as we achieve unanimity.

2 Nephi 32:3 was also referenced. A reminder to feast upon the words of Christ.

President Lewis also offered a few remarks about family scripture study, stating that Saturday and Sunday scripture studies were the best because there was no rush or demand to leave the house as on other days.

This got me thinking about how I use Sundays for family time. Could I attend to all other meetings on days other than Sunday?

Remarks from Bishop David H. Burton:

He endorsed “the gracious of our stake president”.

President Howard W. Hunter’s only talk to the priesthood as president of the Church focused on two points:

  • We who have the privilege of holding the holy Melchizedek priesthood, hold sacred expectations.
  • Perfect moral fidelity within our own homes. There is the expectation that we will not flirt with temptation.
  • Lead out in righteousness in our homes. Many are failing to do this in their homes.

Invitation from Bishop Burton: As time permits in quorum meetings, help quorum members understand this challenge.

Shift to Addressing Youth/ Young Men and Young Women – More than 50% of the youth of the Church now reside in single parent homes. The church as an institution needs to be more proactive. Bishops hold sacred Aaronic priesthood keys to bless the young people.

Differences between Bishop and the Presiding High Priest (which is also the Bishop’s assignment by delegation from the stake president).

  • Bishop’s keys cannot be delegated.
  • Most of the presiding high priest’s duties can be delegated.

Bishop Burton concluded with a Q & A session where some fun statical facts and question were thrown around. As Bishop Burton was speaking without hard numbers, I’ll refrain from making note. Despite general global economic hardship, the Church which just held it annual council on the disposition of the tithes, is in sound financial shape for the upcoming year– an amazing blessing as Bishop Burton noted it.

Post thoughts:

  • It is curious to note that the bulk of our work in the priesthood is focused on creating righteous fathers and husbands in our homes.
  • Preparation. A scout is prepared. We must be prepared in all things.

Saturday Adult Session

This was something of an open mic format where, after an introduction by Bishop Burton, the two counselors in the stake presidency lead discussion on Zion. We were invited to share scriptures and examples on the topic, and I was very much impressed by the Spirit of the Lord that was present during the discussion.

As the meeting was preparing to start, I saw an older couple walk in and set down. This reminded me of how much time I will have after parenthood with young children to enjoy discipleship, but also came the reminder of how pivotal this years are right now as parents in our children’s preparation.

Moses 7:18 – This was pointed out to be the theme of the conference, but was shared voluntarily by a member of the congregation first.

Questions asked that lead to a powerful conversation:

  • What is Zion?
  • Why do we want to be a part of Zion?
  • How do we dwell in righteousness?

Some observations that I made note of:

  • Alma prayed, not that the behavior of his son would change, but that he would come to a knowledge of the truth.
  • Dews from heaven require conditions to be just right for them to distill upon the ground. So our homes, too, require conditions to be just right for the dews of heaven to distill upon the heads of our children.
  • Pray, asking what is the most important thing that we can do each day.

Again, the most memorable part of this adult meeting was the feeling that I had participating in the Spirit of the Lord that was there. While we sat discussing Zion, I couldn’t help but feel that I was already here in Zion. Doctrine and Covenants 45:68 was mentioned by someone, and I found it to be particularly curious in reference to the earlier discussion that we had about a father’s duty to protect his family.

Sunday Morning General Session

Thoughts from listening to Bishop David H. Burton’s remarks:

  • He spoke about following the words of the living Prophet. He said that he had both a “Hinckley Bible” and a “Monson Bible” where he studied and considered the words of the living prophets with as much weight and importance as the ancient written scriptures.
  • Something spiritual happens to us when we share the gospel.
  • Can you strengthen your testimony on all key points? This last thought had nothing to do with anything that Bishop Burton’s remarks, only that I was recalling a recent experience where I bore testimony in a meeting on a point that I really had about 18 years collective experience with, and it really felt like a personal witness or testimony of things that I had experienced. On key doctrines such as the main 5 points of testimony (Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith is the prophet of the restoration, the Book of Mormon is the word of God, the Priesthood and church of Jesus Christ are restored, and we have a living prophet today), I want to have as strong a personal witness.

Personal Resolution – 22 Nov 2011

In my morning studies, I’m starting into Mosiah 14, which is almost the verbatim reproduction of Isaiah 53. I am resolved in this week of thanksgiving that, living in a time where I am longer required to live according to the laws of Moses, I will do more to remember my Lord Jesus Christ and specifically the atonement which he performed on my behalf. This is my resolution for the week, and the way in which I am proposing to improve in my personal discipleship. I am making record here so as to have a way to gauge it.

The Israelites weren’t asked to do Home Teaching

As far as I am aware, we have no account of ancient Israel having any responsibilities towards home teaching. Home teaching is not something that we can be compelled to do. No, this is why in Mosaic law, there was no provision for home teaching. The work of home teaching is done only voluntarily by those who chose of their own volition to be engaged in it.