In the Congregation

In the Congregation

I’m sitting in the congregation today!  It seems strange.  After eight years of being on the stand it is nice to sit with my wife.  (I was released last week as ward organist after 8 years.)

Several people commented and asked, “Does it feel strange?”

Well, a little, but it feels good too.  Change is good.

Testimony

I am convinced the bishopric can repeat over and over that testimonies should be brief, and define what a testimony is, and the same people who keep doing it will keep doing it because either a) they really don’t understand, or b) they don’t listen.

A friend posted on his Facebook profile about this topic, and all sorts of people chimed in leading me to believe people don’t understand.  As a result, my friend chimed in and bore his testimony as to how powerful it is to simply stick to statements of belief and knowledge.

So, gleaning from many sources here’s what it is…

  • It is a short statement of your believe, faith or knowledge of Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, the Restored Gospel, the Book of Mormon and Scriptures, etc.

These statements are usually prefaced by, “I know…. “,  “I believe… “,  or “I trust… “, or “I have faith…”

For examples, “I believe God lives.”, “I know my Father in Heaven loves me.”, “I have faith that we will live after again after we die.”

It doesn’t have to contain a story, and if it does, it should be short and supportive of your statement of fact.  It should never be an exhortation, call to repentance, or a prepared talk.  Thus, it only has to be a few statements of deep conviction.

Dinner with the Sisters

Dinner with Sisters Henrie and Searle was nice.  I made grilled salmon atop a bed of greens, mushrooms, onions and topped with a mustard demi-glace.  Dessert, well, that was unusual… cucumbers imitating apple slices over ice cream.

copyright 2017 db walton
Salmon Over Greens with Demi-glace
copyright 2017 db walton
Sisters Searle and Henrie and Elizabethe

 

Pork Loin

Pork Loin

Pork loin is a cut of meat you can easily ruin.  Don’t cook it long enough and your guest will be turned off by the raw pork center.  Cook it too long and it will be tough as shoe leather.  It must be just right.

My pork loin turned out perfect tonight.  I slathered it in bacon grease (yes, I save my bacon grease), and then covered it with herbs.  To me it appeared it would fit perfectly in a loaf pan.  So, in the loaf pan it went.

Two hours later, I pulled it out to cool.  The 1/2 slices were tender, perfectly cooked, and tasty.

Testimony

The talks in Sacrament Meeting were on testimony.  Next week is the test to see who listened as a result of these talks.  Brother Wright presented a list of what should be said in a testimony.

I probably shouldn’t be so judgemental about this, but I have my reasons why this topic upsets me.  On the other hand, when a testimony meeting goes as it should, the spirit is there and it is strong.  I want to be spiritual fed and uplifted when I attend a Fast and Testimony meeting.  Is there anything wrong with that?

 

 

Testimony

Testimony

Someone very close to me left the church using Fast and Testimony meeting as their excuse.  Their excuse was they knew who was going to stand at the pulpit, and what stories they were going to tell.  They were right… the meetings were out of hand.

Not Judging

I’m not being judgemental when I point these things out.  It isn’t a matter of people sinning, it is a matter of knowing what a testimony is, and the purpose of the meeting.  It is a matter of education.  (I’m hoping they do a 5th Sunday meeting soon.)

What Isn’t…

From various lessons and talks, here’s a list I’ve compiled of what isn’t…

  • Exhortation – If you use the words, “I exhort you….” , “You should…”, “We should…” or “You must…” , etc., you’re not testifying.
  • Stories, for the most part – Telling a short story that supports your obtaining your testimony is okay, but if the story is simply a feel-good story, you’re not testifying.
  • Confessions – A public confession is not a testifying.  In fact, most of the time it is embarrassing to the congregation.
  • Speech Giving – It is not the time to give a speech.  If you have to open the scriptures and do a lengthy reading, read a conference talk, etc., you’re giving a speech, not a testimony.
  • Asking Questions or Taking Polls – “If you’ve served a mission, will you raise your hand?” is a sample of what shouldn’t be done in a testimony.  That’s more appropriate for a Sunday School, Priesthood or Relief Society Lesson.
  • Joke Telling – I imagine a short funny line to break tension is okay, but if you have to go in to a lengthy joke, then you’re not testifying.

What Is…

  • Testifying – It is simply stating what you know or believe to be true.

Resource

A great resource is a book named Steadfast and Immoveable (Robert Millet, Deseret Book Co).  Brother Millet talks about the power of bearing pure testimony.  Furthermore, Brother Millet gives excellent examples.

 

 

Beef Curry

Beef Curry

Beef curry seems like a dish you would not find in India.  You’re probably right in thinking that because this was a Thai Curry that I made for dinner.

The missionaries are coming for dinner and I made a beef Thai curry, curried ribs and a sesame dressing over a salad.  Tonight was a Thai theme for dinner.


It was Fast Sunday today and we had a good Fast and Testimony Meeting.  After church, Brother Amsden and I took the Sacrament to Sister and Sarah Baker.  (Matt was out of town working.)

Bob Ingold taught Priesthood and the lesson was about adversity.  I don’t think anyone else could have taught that subject so well.  Bob has been through a lot in the last 5 years or so.  We’ve also got a lot of people in our ward who have faced, or are facing a lot of adversity in their lives.  Perhaps it is because all of us baby-boomers are coming of age.

Tomorrow is the First Monday Event and I’m so tired today.  I’m hoping I get a good rest so I won’t feel like it’s a burden and a drag.  At least I think I’ll sleep well tonight.

 

 

Gladys Knight McDowell

Gladys Knight McDowell

We all know her as Gladys Knight, the Empress of Soul, but her husband introduced her as, “Gladys Knight McDowell… McDowell… McDOWELL…”

Tonight we ventured in to Rochester to see Gladys Knight and the Saints United Voices Choir (SUV for short) with our friend David.

IT WAS AMAZING.

I’d post photos, but there were no cameras allowed.  The SUV Choir sang several gospel numbers and the audience was addressed by a friend of theirs.  All I can remember is his name was Ron, and Gladys’ husband, William McDowell, referred to him as Obee Ron Kenobee.  They sang some more and then William addressed the crowd.

William told how he met Gladys and how he was very skeptical of her.  As he put it, he had heard that she “sold out” and abandoned her heritage.  As he continued he explained why he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

William also talked about the importance of putting aside racial differences when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  When Gladys spoke, she addressed this topic, as well as setting aside religious false notions and uniting together as God’s children.  William made a challenge to those who had not heard some of these things now have the responsibility to go and find out for themselves.  It was powerful testimony.

While Gladys was speaking, I heard the Spirit whisper to me, “You’re witnessing a miracle in the making.”

I don’t know exactly what that miracle is, but I have some ideas, and I’m going to try to follow up to see what comes of the events of this night.  About 2,400 people tonight heard three highly intelligent and talented people talk about our divine heritage (we are all God’s children), the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, the testimony of the Book of Mormon, prayer, following the Holy Ghost and doing something about all of this.

Anyone who was invited to this event and didn’t go, I would recommend if you get a chance to see Gladys Knight and the Saints United Voices Choir, change your plans and GO.

The Purpose

The purpose of going to church is for our own perfection.  Yes, we all hear the phrase, “Nobody’s perfect”, but perfection is expected, but not all at once.  Christ said, “I would that ye should be perfect…”, and we are promised that no commandment is given without a way to accomplish it.

Nobody understands the stress of being a perfectionist as much as me.  I’m constantly reminding myself that Rome wasn’t built in one day, slow down, you can’t do it all, things take time, and the list goes on.  Nor do I expect perfection in others, in fact, many time I fault on the side of expecting mediocrity out of others; a fault I greatly need to work on.

I drew some ire with a comment yesterday regarding people not having a testimony of the gospel.  It was poorly worded, and should have been along the lines of “a complete testimony”, because everyone’s testimony is a work in progress.  Isn’t our goal to have a perfect knowledge?

I look at testimony as being like a balloon.  The more holes it has, the less likely it can float you above the dangers that lay below.  It is our goal to patch those holes, starting with the most serious ones (and that’s for you to decide).  As we patch them, we gain more altitude.  Big holes are things like the law of chastity, serious word of wisdom problems, spousal or child abuse, and things like that, whereas small holes are things like trying to understand certain points of doctrine.  But, small holes, when stress is applied to them, can become big holes, and big holes can bring the whole thing down.

During my life, I’ve watched many balloons go down in flames.  Some, because the owners had no interest in maintaining them.  Holes caused by drug abuse, immorality and other things eventually brought them down, not just spiritually, but brought them down to the grave too.  Others had small holes, that tore in to big holes.  Imagine the shock hearing someone say, “I’ve decided to leave the church because you guys just aren’t intellectual enough.”  Or, “I’ve decided it isn’t true.”  (Elder Uchtdorf’s talk last weekend address this topic:  http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us?lang=eng)

We all have a unique set of holes.  I have a good friend in California who has never had a Word of Wisdom hole in his balloon.  Others have never had a Law of Tithing hole.  Some people ultimately have less holes, while others struggle daily with a multitude of holes.  Some holes are self-inflicted, while others seem to be innate, yet we still have to deal with them.  Our balloon is ours and belongs to no one but yourself.

Few people have hole-less balloons, and there’s an adversary out there with ‘fiery darts’ (D&C 3:8), shooting at our balloons.  And, even if your balloon is hole-less, when the adversary shoots his darts, you’ve got to be ready to patch those new holes.  And, if you’re busy patching holes, it becomes much harder to patch new holes.  To make things more difficult, we are the only ones who can patch them; other people are busy maintaining their balloons.  Others can offer encouragement or advise, but ultimately, it is up to us to patch those holes.

Heavenly Father provides the fill for our balloons.  His source of warmth is continuous, and always there, and his fire cannot be extinguished.  Just as he is always available to hear our prayers, that constant source is of no avail to us if we don’t take advantage of it.  Thus, constant maintenance on our balloon will keep us on the assent; it traps his warmth.

I may ask a by passer, “How did you fix that hole in your balloon?”, but I don’t go about waiving and shouting, “Hey, look at the hole in my balloon!”  Doing this accomplishes nothing.   On the other hand, I don’t make excuses for the holes in my balloon, in fact, I’m constantly trying to figure out how to patch them.  Doing this consists of pleading prayers, study, effort and doing the best I know how.

Hill Cumorah Pagent 2013 Dress Rehersal

Tonight is the dress rehearsal for the 2013 Hill Cumorah Pageant. The performances run tomorrow and Saturday, and then they resume on Tuesday next week, and run through Saturday night.

I recommend getting there around dinner time, and purchasing dinner from one of the many community organizations that will be selling food. Enjoy your dinner while holding down your seat for the performance, and meet some of the cast members.

The Pageant performance is free and open to the public. There are no tickets or reservations. You just show up and find a seat. The food concessions are sold by local non-profit organizations to raise funds for their group.

Hill Cumorah Pageant
Hill Cumorah Pageant

 

—–
I started a topic yesterday, and would like to continue…

It is one thing, as naïve as it is, to say, “There is no God,” instead of saying, “I don’t believe there is a God.”

The chain of events as presented in scriptures is that a person first has hope, which leads to a belief. Belief, when acted upon develops faith. Faith, through endurance and continued action eventually results in knowledge.

Few people will walk up to you and say, “I know there’s is a God because I’ve seen him face-to-face.” We have recorded testimonies of those who have, and as many as try to dispute their testimonies, think for a second how absurd it must sound to the testator.

For instance, take the testimony of Joseph Smith, Junior, who wrote:

“So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my
heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.”

Subjective?  Perhaps to you, but not to Joseph Smith, who, by the way, held to this to his dying day, as did all the others who received heavenly messengers.  This is not the same with Fox sisters who claimed to be able to speak to the spirits of the dead, and then near the ends of their lives, admitted it was a hoax.  Further, there is no indication that Joseph Smith was afflicted with some sort of ailment or drug use that caused him to hallucinate.  In fact, he executed a strict code of health on the church that is well known today for the abstention of drugs as mild as coffee and tea.  There was nothing subjected about Joseph’s visitation.

Others have recorded testimonies that were withheld by divine request – only to be made known after their death.  (The Book of Mormon is a great example.  In fact, the Hill Cumorah Pageant summarizes many of the stories told in the Book of Mormon.)  I’ve often wondered why that is.  (Why would someone receive a divine visit, and then be told, “Share this with no one?”)  I think the answer is simple:  Unless the message is for the world, it is a personal witness.

Read this comment by President Boyd K. Packer, “I know the Lord lives, and I know the Lord.”  (Special Broadcast given June, 2013 – click here to listen to the entire talk.)  What a powerful statement.  As to the best of my knowledge, he has never gone in to any details as to the last part of that sentence.  It’s simple, and to the point, “I know the Lord.”

Too often people attribute their own understanding to God’s attributes.  If you think doesn’t exist because of your self-attributed attributes, well then you’ve definitely misunderstood who he is, how he works, and what power he has.  I don’t know how many times I have heard people say, “I can’t believe in a God who would let that happen.”  (That might be war, the death of a child, inhumane treatment of people, etc.)  Then, yeah.  That god you’ve created in your mind probably doesn’t exist.

God’s plan is not very complex, and it requires effort on the believer’s part.  Agreeably, some search so hard in vain that they, like Giovanni Schiaparelli believing he saw canals on Mars, begin to have subjective experiences.  (In Schiaparelli’s case, the canals he wanted to see turned out to be the blood vessels in his retina.)  But, sought correctly, patiently, humbly, one can come to know God.