The City of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel

Isaiah 60

(This morning in prayer I was tasked with the assignment to write a description of the city of Zion. Then I came to realize that this is what I am studying presently.)

This chapter starts with a command to “Arise, Shine” but the source of the light that we are to shine is from the Lord. “For thy Light has come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” We are to be a reflected light source then, not to carry the weight of responsibility to invent our own source of light.

This has me contemplating again how much the principle of light resonates with me personally. And why does it resonate with me? What is the Light? It is Christ, the personal and compassionate One. So the thing that attracts all the world to Israel, or Zion, is the glory of the Lord that is upon them/us. What does this look like? What does this feel like?

The abundance of many nations and the seas are brought in to Zion as a result of the attraction that is felt towards this light. Resources are gathered in abundance.

The gates of Zion will be continually open, both day and night, and this that the forces of the Gentiles maybe brought into it. The Hebrew translation suggests “wealth” in place of “forces”. There are a lot of questions here that I am not asking. See also Revelation 21:23–26.

The glory of the Lord will be upon the City of Zion so that there will be no night. (When will people sleep?) Why does Zion become the center of material goods and wealth? Because Zion knows how to distribute resources to where they are needed. This is the welfare program applied to a global economy!

Zion won’t produce garbage. Because they will not be concerned with money (so long lucifer!), the quality of the output will not be influenced by a “bottom line.”

The remainder of this description of Zion talks about it being brought up under the nurture of the Gentiles, but that Zion will know that is the Lord that leads them. (See vs. 16) Interesting features make Zion stand out or apart: A land where violence is far away from it. A city that is hid from the sun and moon because is is self-light by the everlasting light of the Lord. All found within Zion will understand and live righteously. It will start small, but grow from a small one to a thousand! The Lord will hasten this work in its time.

How then would I describe Zion? (This feels like the wrong question. I either need to get to this study earlier in the day, or figure out what the right questions are to understand this chapter. )

Here’s a better question: What does this chapter teach me about hope in Christ? How does this chapter increase my hope in Christ?

(Go study about Hope!)

Some Thoughts on Baptism

(See also Baptism and John the Baptist)

I am grateful for the invitation to speak this evening on a few core doctrines of our our faith.

You hardly know me, and I hardly know you. But we can both make some general assumptions because we are both together in the same space on this specific and significant occasion. (It may be safe to say that that these assumptions could be made about everyone present here this evening.) I am under the assumption that the reason you are here tonight is because you have listened to and accepted the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ from these missionaries and now want to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized into the Church of Christ. That desire, if I am not reading too much into it, tells me a lot about your hopes and dreams for the future. These are my hopes and dreams too.

Maybe we might discuss little more about what those hopes and dreams are. Your being here tonight tells me that you are hoping for a better world for yourself. But baptism is more than just about ourselves, and perhaps you already understand this as well. Baptism represents your entrance into a community of believers who not only hope for a better world for themselves, but also for a better world for those around them. That hope also gives us strength to take action, the action that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, to do things to make the world better for ourselves and for others around us.

So I already know this much about you and you already know this much about me and everyone else in this room. Because of the promises made at baptism, we all are hoping to make life better for each other.

And with Christ’s help, that hope can and will become a reality.

So that’s the group part of the baptismal covenant. Let’s maybe change course now and look at the more personal dynamics of baptism. And to do that, I want to draw attention to one prophet who’s name is associated with the covenant of baptism: John the Baptist.


600 years before the time of Christ, we read about another prophet in the Book of Mormon: Lehi. He and his family had left Jerusalem. The Lord had given Lehi a series of customized commands which by chapter 10 of 1 Nephi, he had successfully demonstrated his faithfulness in obeying those commandments.  Consequently, the Lord begins to bless Lehi with visions and further understanding of essential doctrines. (This is a pattern that the Lord often employs: a test of obedience followed by an outpouring of greater light or understanding.)

One of those essential doctrines that was revealed to Lehi was a knowledge of the Savior’s mortal ministry, and key events there in. His son recorded the following:

Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer.

And [my father] spake also concerning a prophet who should come before the Messiah, to prepare the way of the Lord—

Yea, even he should go forth and cry in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for there standeth one among you whom ye know not; and he is mightier than I, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose…

And my father said he should baptize in Bethabara, beyond Jordan; and he also said he should baptize with water; even that he should baptize the Messiah with water.

And after he had baptized the Messiah with water, he should behold and bear record that he had baptized the Lamb of God, who should take away the sins of the world.

1 Nephi 10:6-10

In trying to understand the significance of the ordinance of baptism, let’s consider a little deeper the mission of John the Baptist, the only prophet in all of scripture and time to have an ordinance attached to his name.

Consider how the Savior Jesus Christ described John:

…Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.

But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.

For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Matthew 11:7-11

John was the literal embodiment of the ordinance that he was called upon to perform, a living witness or symbol of baptism, its purpose being to prepare each of us to enter into the Kingdom of God.

There is another principle or act that is frequently coupled with baptism,  and that is repentance. Sometimes repentance happens before baptism. Always among true disciples it happens afterwards as well, frequently, and as often as is needed to make progression in the kingdom of God.

God gives us both inward acts and outward ordinances to help us along the covenant path. There is a state of being that we hope that all who come to the waters of baptism would possess, it is this state of humility before God, and acknowledgement of His path, our own nothingness before him. This is why the Savior used such strong language in commending John by saying he was “more than a prophet” and “none greater”. This is what John the Baptist represented, this state of a humble, penitent, simple follower of Jesus Christ.  What John represented was the first steps of the Plan of Salvation.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.

The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous… a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

Matthew 11: 18 & 19

I see in the contrast between John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ, bookends for the our personal Plan of Salvation. We start with the humility of John and, by obedience, we walk step by baby step towards our Lord Jesus Christ.

And just so there was no confusion on how or where to start, Christ himself submitted to the baptism of John.

Wherefore, I would that ye should remember that I have spoken unto you concerning that prophet… that should baptize the Lamb of God, which should take away the sins of the world.

… if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, ….how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!

And now, …wherein [did] the Lamb of God fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?

Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.

2 Nephi 31:4-7

And so it is with each of us! By submitting to the ordinance of baptism, we show our willingness to be obedient to the commandments of the Father: both a public and yet, very personal first step in our turning to God.



(ADDENDUM, not for today)

As we have briefly considered the life and mission of John the Baptist, can you imagine the surprise and amazement then, when Joseph Smith with his scribe Oliver Cowdery go into the woods to seek guidance and instruction about baptism. A messenger from Heaven, who calls himself John and says that he is the same that was called John the Baptist in the New Testament, appears to them and extends to them the power to perform baptism. These are his words:

Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of… the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth…

Doctrine and Covenants 13

It is with this same authority from John, who embodied the principles of baptism and repentance, that you are baptized today.

There Was No Intercessor; Therefore, His Arm Brought Salvation unto Him

Isaiah 59

This chapter starts off with two very simple statements of fact:

  • the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save;
  • neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

So the Lord is capable of both saving and hearing. The next verse then states:

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Verse 2

So, there is an issue of connectivity. And perhaps it is as simple an observation as that! But Isaiah doesn’t stop there, because connectivity is what is needed to be saved. How can we know what needs to be remedied if we cannot see it?

As I roll down the list of iniquities that Isaiah spells out here, I am reminded even more so of the life choices that I have made that hopefully do not play into a system of injustices that our current economic model of life is based upon.

I have been struggling in my scripture studies, and this chapter in particular, to make sense of it all. I can understand the rebellion of Israel and their separation from God because of their iniquities. It is a real condition of bondage. I can understand the eventual fulfillment of covenants made with God. I see that the Redeemer will come to make intercession through the power of His righteousness.

Here’s where my study continues tomorrow… in verse 16. There was none to save man out of his forsaken and fallen state. Christ alone had capacity to bear what would need to be born. He saw it. He recognized the inadequacies of man. He voluntarily chose to intercede on our behalf, to fight for those that would repent.

Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.

Doctrine and Covenants 45:5

This chapter ends with a strong pronouncement of protection for the righteous. The Lord is suited up in armor to go to battle for those that would have Him to be their God.

  • he put on righteousness as a breastplate,
  • and an helmet of salvation upon his head;
  • he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing,
  • and was clad with zeal as a cloak.

See verse 17.

So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.

Verse 19

These are the promises, the guarantees of His protection “unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob”.

Then at the very end of the chapter there is a promise, a covenant that the Lord makes with these righteous who will turn from their transgression:

My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.

Verse 21

This is a blessing that I have long hoped for for my children.

Is Not This the Fast that I Have Chosen? To Loose the Bands of Wickedness…

Isaiah 58

(I am much more intimately acquainted with the content of this chapter, probably more so than any other chapter in Isaiah. This chapter offers foundational promises and instruction in regard to fasting and Sabbath day observance.)

It strikes me as very important that two of the strongest tools that I have at my disposal are fasting and Sabbath day observance. Prayer ought also to be added to this mix, as it is effectively the water that activates fasting and the Sabbath day. These things are not the longed-face resignations and oppressions of blind faith, rather these are the power tools in the hands of skilled disciples. Fasting and Sabbath day observance is what cuts through confusion; it’s what gets the job done.

Verses 3-5: Ideas of false fasting are debunked.

What fasting is not:

  • Afflicting the soul
  • For strife and debate, smiting with the fist of wickedness
  • For public display/hypocrisy (to make your voice be heard on high)
  • To be bow the head down/lay down sackcloth and ashes under him

Principle: Fasting is not the oppression that the natural man sees in it. Nor is it used for displays of piety or tools of debate.

Verses 6-7: Purpose and motives of a true fast are defined.

  • Loose the bands of wickedness
  • Undo heavy burdens
  • Let the oppressed go free
  • Break every yoke
  • Deal your bread to the hungry
  • Bring the poor that are cast out into your own house
  • Cover the naked
  • Hid not yourself from your own flesh (family)

Verses 8-12: The blessings of true fasting are defined.

The blessings described in these verses are the most desirable of good and virtuous blessings to be desired.

Verse 8:

  • Your light will break forth as the morning
  • Health shall spring forth speedily
  • Your righteousness will go before you
  • The glory of the Lord shall be your rearward (or protection from behind).

Verse 9 gets even more intimate:

  • After fasting, the Lord shall answer when we call.
  • When I cry to him, he will say: “Here I am”.

Then in the same verse, I am being asked to attend to a few things, things I should avoid:

  • Remove any form of yoke (or bondage) from my midst.
  • Stop the “putting forth of the finger” or scorn or shaming others.
  • Stop speaking in vanities, or speech that has no meaning. This could also mean flattery, which I have never been prone to resort to.

Verse 10 continues this thought with some proactive points (things we should be doing):

  • If I draw my soul out to the hungry
  • If I will satisfy the afflicted soul.

I need to pause here to assess what Isaiah (in so few words!) is actually saying. Drawing my soul out to the hungry is a lot more than just pulling five dollars out of my wallet and giving it to someone on a street corner. There is a much more personal commitment of time and energy and resources channeled towards the “hungry” or the “afflicted soul” if I am drawing out my soul to them.

Verse 11 begins the pouring out of blessings upon blessings:

  • The Lord shall guide thee continually.
  • He shall satisfy thy soul in drought.
  • He shall make thy bones fat.
  • Thou shall be like a watered garden
  • Thou shall be like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

This sounds to me like there is the capacity to live after the manner of a united order, or such a way to succor to the needs of those around us, while not being neglected ourselves.

Spending a little more time in the footnotes on verse 11, I’ve started with “divine guidance”. This reminder of paths trodden serves a reminder that God has been with me, and of the distance already traveled down an unknown or undefined road. But we’re not done traveling that road yet, are we?

The other footnotes in verse 11, suggest a combination of blessings resulting in an abundant life both temporally and spiritually.

The promises found in verse 12 resonate deeply with me:

  • They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places.
  • Thou shall raise up the foundations of many generations.
  • Thou shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.

These are the blessings of a true fast. The blessing articulated in verse 11 come from the Lord. The blessings found in verse 12 suggest the works that we will be enabled to accomplish, a foundational work that will bless my posterity for generations.

Verses 1314: Sabbath day observance is defined and blessings received.

Verse 13 addresses what Sabbath day observance looks like:

  • Turn thy foot from doing thy pleasure on my holy day.
  • Call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable.
  • Honor Him [the Lord].
  • Do not do thy own ways.
  • Do not find thy own pleasure.
  • Do not speak thy own words.

So if I am to take as much effort in observing the purpose of the Sabbath day (which is to do the Lord’s will and his work, speaking the Lord’s words, finding what bring Him pleasure), then will the blessings of the Sabbath be received:

  • Thou shalt delight thyself in the Lord.
  • The Lord will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth.
  • The Lord will feed thee with the heritage of Jacob.

There is a footnote on “high places” that points to a passage in Deuteronomy 32, where the Lord explains how the house of Israel (though they lived a desert place) were brought into great temporal prosperity.

All the mysteries of temporal and spiritual prosperity are uncovered in these two principles: Fasting and Sabbath Day Observance, both with their worship towards the true and living God. There is no other recipe for success sanctioned by heaven. There is no other pattern of living that works with lasting and true results.

There Is No Peace… to the Wicked

Isaiah 57

This chapter starts with a consideration of the state of the righteous at the point of death. Isaiah points out that none really give the demise of the righteous much thought. But the blessings that follow the righteous, this is the end of it all, or in other words, this is the point of life: To be prepare for death and what lies beyond!

There was a quote somewhere in a recent General Conference talk that said something to the effect of the reason why he lived so long was because he was so prepared to die. (*add reference)

Joseph Smith received of the Lord some additional insight into this thought:

Behold, blessed, saith the Lord, are they who have come up unto this land with an eye single to my glory, according to my commandments.

For those that live shall inherit the earth, and those that die shall rest from all their labors, and their works shall follow them; and they shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father, which I have prepared for them.

Doctrine and Covenants 59:1-2

There is clearly something more that we ought to be preparing for.

Verses 3 – 9 are a clear set of accusations against a group of people who are lost in sin. Sin, such as the grievous claims that were laid against this people (sacrificing their own children to dumb idols), put a clear stop to personal progress. Fortunately, things are different today. But are there other dumb idols to which we voluntarily sacrifice our children to?

This is instructive on several different fronts though. Learning to judge between right and wrong, what actually is sin, and what is only facade/personal preference, is extremely important.

To understand that there is another Being who is more keenly interested in our success and well being, even more so that we ourselves could ever be, this is to begin to comprehend the greatness of our Eternal Father. And this is the ironic state in which the wicked find themselves: seeking their own self-conceived definition of personal interests, utterly alone. Strangely though, these efforts of self definition seldom scratch the surface of our true identity or understanding of those things that would bring us the greatest joys. And the painful reality is that we choose to walk alone, unaided by the divine, when He is willing and able and ready to assist all those who are of a contrite and humble heart.

My House Shall Be… For All People

Isaiah 56

The chapter starts with a call to righteousness. It doesn’t expressly say to “keep the commandments”. Rather it says to keep judgment, and do justice. Then there is the reminder that the Salvation of the Lord is near at hand. There is a second distinguishing characteristic of those who would do righteousness: they keep the sabbath day from polluting it. What would pollute the Sabbath day? The commandment for the Sabbath day is to “keep it holy”.

This is a chapter of inclusion. Isaiah identifies two different case scenarios of people who might feel excluded from the fold of God: eunuchs and the sons of the stranger. Clearly we are not dealing with children of the House of Israel in either case. Verses 4 & 5 explains that eunuchs that 1) keep the sabbath, 2) do the will of God, and 3) make covenants with God, these shall receive a place and name within the temple (mine house).

A similar scenario is repeated with the sons of the stranger in verses 6 & 7:

  • they join themselves to the Lord
  • they serve Him
  • they love the name of the Lord
  • they are His servants
  • they (everyone of them) keep the Sabbath day from polluting it
  • and finally, they make covenants with Him.

These are then promised to be brought into his holy mountain, and to made joyful in his house of prayer.

There is a powerful prophecy at the end of this verse 7: “for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.”

Near the end of the chapter is an observation of those that are called to be “watchmen”. Isaiah calls them blind and dumb dogs. He also calls them greedy dogs, shepherds that cannot understand. These are harsh words of accusation and a reminder to not be found sitting on my laurels.

Neither Are Your Ways My Ways

Isaiah 55

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me this morning, as is also memories of the “Glory” soundtrack from my youth. This points me to the African nation and peoples of African descent, while also considering the words of this chapter that invite all to come and buy freely.

God is not a transactional God. Neither are the creations which are under his control. Governments and the transactional systems that are setup to maintain such are of temporal concern. There will be no stock markets in the Millennium. It’s not a miracle to overload the nets of a fisherman and more than it is that an apple tree can set enough fruit and more to sustain a household for an entire year. In a moment, God can offset and counterbalance any established system, with abundance or drought.

Peace, peace is being taken from the earth. You are in possession of peace, that peace which comes through Christ.

The conditions that were imposed upon the earth at the Fall of Adam and Eve are reversed or rescinded by the incorporation of the Word of God into one’s life. This may be as true in temporal affairs as it is in spiritual matters.

This chapter is then a set of strong arguments for why one should turn from their wicked ways back unto the Lord.

Peace, No More?

In thoughts that have been impressed upon my mind this morning, and from comments that I’ve been listening to over the past few days, it seems to me that we are or have already entered into a period in which peace, generally speaking, has been taken from among us.

Now I don’t know where you are at–what your circumstances look like, what challenges lie dauntingly before you. I don’t know what you’re quietly carrying, or maybe it’s not so quiet or hidden. Maybe you’ve been carrying this burden for so long, the hope that anything will change is gone.

What I know, simply, is that the Prince of Peace (Jesus Christ) will triumph individually as soon as we will let Him. In this regard, He waits patiently “at the door” for us to let Him in to our lives. He will triumph universally at the end of this unique period of universal unrest and re-establish peace, Millennial peace!

Let’s return just for a moment to the individual act of letting Christ in to my life. I can only speak by way of personal experience as to how this works for me. The real efforts that I made to let Christ into my life today, included getting on my knees this morning and praying for understanding about feelings and impressions that I had had for the last couple of days. I got up off my knees prematurely, so after a few minutes I returned to my knees again to make sure I was where the Father needed me to be.

Then I did some listening. I could hear something of the truth as I tried to figure out what to pen in my journal about the day that had passed. I then turned to the scriptures which I accessed through a web browser. Taking notes in a blog format, I recorded the feelings of my heart. At the end of this hour of communion, this morning, I found myself in a state of quiet reflection. After struggling to keep the space in my mind uncluttered for several moments, I felt the words “publish peace”. Immediately the words from Isaiah came back to me, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him… that publisheth peace.” (Isaiah 52:7)

Lettuce, gone to seed, in the garden.

Do I feel like I am in a state of despair or devoid of peace? I am not. Can I relate with those that feel that they are in such dark spots? Maybe for a moment, I can recall these feelings (because I have come and gone from such spaces, even recently). My hope though is in Christ, that “man of sorrows… acquainted with grieve” who also is known as the Prince of Peace! He’s been in the darkest of dark spots. He knows the way out.

Truly, he does.

Can you come with me and sit under the shade of His peaceful protection? What do you have to do to be here? Are you going to take the time to answer these questions, especially if you need to answer these question?

In Righteousness Shalt Thou Be Established

Isaiah 54, See also 3 Nephi 22

(Unlike other chapters of Isaiah, referenced elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, I have not made a detailed study of chapter 54 yet.)

This chapter starts with this premise: “more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife.” The meaning that I give to this is that greater in number (and spiritual power) are the children of Christ by adoption than those that were prepared through the house of Israel.

Unexpected growth is a theme here at the beginning of the chapter. We see growth from places and in ways that were not anticipated. Enlarging the tents borders, spreading forth the curtains, extending the stake further out, inheritances being claimed that once belonged to the Gentiles, and desolate cities being occupied.

There is a comparing and contrasting of scope between Israel and the world. The Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He shall also be called the God of the whole earth.

My wife, through the commentary of others, has presented to me this truth: God is not a transactional God. Yes, justice must be satisfied. But blessings, kindness, long-suffering, mercy, peace, these are all constant realities, or characteristics of our God.

Verses 6-10 talk about God’s wrath for “a small moment” and then his kindness as “everlasting”. His mercy, contrasted to his wrath, is anything but balanced!

There are promises found in this chapter. Some are easier to believe than others:

  • thou shalt be far from oppression;
  • terror… shall not come near thee.
  • All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.

This last promise is harder for me to fathom than others, but perhaps easier to believe now than a few years ago, because of what I have experienced.

The chapter ends with additional promises:

  • No weapon formed against thee shall prosper.
  • Every tongue that shall against thee in judgment shall thou condemn.

As I conclude this chapter, memories of years past in service to the kingdom of God have come back to my mind. Is now the time to return, to recommit myself and do better?

Lessons Learned from the Pandemic: What We Are Learning and Will Never Forget

“What We Are Learning and Will Never Forget,” President Russel M. Nelson, April 2021 General Conference – Priesthood Session

God is optimistic about my future? And He has ever and always been that way? How? How can one be optimistic and then been saddened when we don’t choose right? Or what does God know about our potential to progress that we cannot see. Events do not define us.

The first two paragraph’s of Pres. Nelson’s remarks give me pause for reflection. On the one hand, not much has changed in the past two years of my life. There was no major losses incurred. We are among the smaller minority that has inadvertently improved our position in the past two years as a result of COVID. I gained family moving closer to me. No one has died in my family in I don’t know how long! It it strange being on the far side of such suffering, so removed, so isolated from it all.

“Great changes are easier than small ones.” Sir France Bacon

“I know the Lord has great and marvelous plans for us—individually and collectively.” What does this mean for me? Then the reminder that the Lord has greater blessings in store for us, and he also knows that we cannot bear all things now. The timing of the Lord is not our own.

My feeling this morning is that there is another significant step forward that we need to take to be put in a position of greater advantage, what that step is, I don’t know? It took the pioneers 17 years to get to where they needed to be geographically, 5 more to start building a temple, and then 40 years after that to see it through to completion. Eek! What a time table?

Lessons Learned from the Last 2 Years

“What have you learned in the past two years that you always want to remember?”

Or better said to maintain focus in attempting to answer this question: what have I learned in the past two years personally about Jesus Christ that I always want to remember?

  • Look to Christ in every thought, doubt not, fear not. When I am overcome with darkness because I have dwelt on the poor decisions of family members that have led to greater suffering, Christ will pull me out of those sinking waters.
  • Christ is serious about honoring my temple covenants and empowering me to do the same to bless my family.
  • Because of elective personal hardship which we choose to follow the Spirit in 2011, we have sailed through the 2020 pandemic where everyone else was faced with hardship.
  • Strengthening my marriage to Rachel and my family are the most important responsibilities that I have.

Lesson 1: The Home Is the Center of Faith and Worship

My initial response to making home the center of faith and worship has to do with the physical appearance of my home, but President Nelson doesn’t point to the appearance of my home as the key to making it a holy place:

Attitudes and actions that invite the Spirit will increase the holiness of your home.

Now, I am just sitting with this thought for a moment. How can I change my attitude towards the members of my family enough to invite the Spirit into my home? What actions would encourage the Spirit to be in my home?

Lesson 2: We Need Each Other

The problem with the pandemic is that I enjoyed the excuse that it gave me to be more focused on myself and my family. I am sitting with myself asking if this is wrong? Balance is the answer, and it has never been requisite to run faster than we should.

No one needs to feel alone. “If you know of anyone who is alone, reach out—even if you feel alone too! You do not need to have a reason or a message or business to transact. Just say hello and show your love.”

Personal Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

  • (See list from above.)
  • The power of temple covenants exists outside the temple.
  • God’s work never stops. The pandemic taught us ways to be more efficient in doing his work. We learned how to use technology to hold meetings and be more effective.

  • Response from pandemic has been what has defined us as a people.
  • Disease doesn’t scare us as a family.
  • We chose to home school before before everyone was compelled to homeschool.
  • Our oddities have become the norm: work from home, online education, home school.