Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Praise to the Man

I write with a heavy heart tonight. I just learned that Gordon Bitner Hinckley, prophet of the Lord, has died. President Hinckley was one of the truly great prophets with a vision of the Lord's work unmatched by almost anyone. I am sure much will be written of his legacy. Presidnet Hinckley built and dedicated more temples than anyone in history. He published two great and inspired documents: one setting forth the significance of the family in the work of the Lord, and one testifying of Jesus Christ.

I want to spend more time talking about this great Prophet's impact in my life. I could detail many years of his talks at General Conference, but I will just pick a few events to highlight. First a general observation: It was a tangible Spirit of peace to be in the presence of the Prophet. It was often a large, crowded room, with people buzzing like before any other meeting. The instant the Prophet entered the room the Spirit would come in waves. Almost instantly the whole room would stand up and become silent.

In August of 2005, President Hinckly gave the whole Church a challenge to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. I have read it several times before and since, but there was something different about that time. President Hinckley promised, "Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God." I found that to be true. That challenge increased my love for the Book of Mormon and the testimony is bears of Jesus Christ. I came to know even more fully that Jesus lives and is involved and concerned about my life.

In October 2006, President Hinckley gave a talk to the Priesthood of the Church where he challenged the men to obtain all the education they could. That one talk inspired me to enter grad school here at Texas A&M University. I took the GMAT two months later and was acceped into the MBA program. My experiences over the past five months have been the happiest of my life. I have been genuinely stretched academically and have met some friends who will be friends for the rest of my life. I have never been so happy. There have been three times in my life when I have had the calm assurances of the Spirit telling me I am at exactly the right place in my life: when I started my mission, when I started my undergrad at BYU, and when I started the MBA program. President Hinckley's teachings affected each of those stages of my life, but without his challenge that October, I would have been robbed of the great experiences of the past few months of my life.

I thank God I was ever able to hear the testimony of the great Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

John McCain is a Liar

I have been following the early presidential primaries very closely. (Too closely, I should be studying more for school.) I have come to realize something lately. John McCain is just like Hillary Clinton. Hillary has attacked Barack Obama relentlessly. She acts as if she were squeeky clean. The Clintons made today's South Carolina primary all about race. As a result, white Democrats over thirty went for Hillary. On the other hand, in Iowa, Obama won the white vote.

It seems thoroughly ironic that the party that claims to be champions of diversity and multicultural understanding could become so divided. I just listened to Obama's victory speech in South Carolina and was very impressed. I may disagree with him on many issues, but I appreciate his rhetoric. I could see myself voting for Obama. (Especially if McCain is the Republican nominee. See.. this post is about McCain.)

No to how McCain and Hillary are similar. McCain is lying about Mitt Romney's statements. (See here, and here.) McCain seems willing to say anything to win, just like Hillary. Pretty disturbing from a guy who claims honor is his watchword. Even McCain supporters and Time magazine agree that McCain is in the wrong. A man who will lie to win the presidency will not get my vote over a guy I probably disagree with.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Prophets Have Warts!

I have recently run across many poisonous accusations against the Church in comment sections of online news sites. I marvel to see Joseph Smith, a man I revere, portrayed as the basest scoundrel ever to walk the earth. As a member of the Church, I am guilty by association. Apparently I am a racist, a simpleton, an idiot, anti-modern, anti-science, intolerant (OK, that one may hold some water sometimes), and people like me are the source of all the problems in the world. I am apparently no different than Mahmood Ahmadinejad.

I am reminded of a story about Joseph Smith from late in his life. Joseph was the mayor of a beautiful and thriving Nauvoo. The city rivaled Chicago at the time as the largest city in Illinois.

Many converts were coming from Britain. They would arrive on the Maid of Iowa, the paddle boat that served Nauvoo on the Mississippi River. One time, Joseph showed up at the dock to greet the new converts in rough clothing. Joseph asked the first convert off the boat why he was there. "I have joined the Mormon Church." Joseph asked, "What do you know about Joseph Smith?" "He is a prophet of God." Joseph then asked, "What if I told you I was Joseph Smith?" "Then you are a prophet of God." Joseph must have smiled, shaken the man's hand, then said, "I am the prophet, but I have worn these rough clothes to let you know that if you expect me to be anything other than a man, that you should get back on that boat and go back to England."

Joseph might have taught a lesson like that because people seemed to have the idea that a calling to be a prophet should make him perfect. Too many had left the Church because even a prophet called by God still has warts. I forget if it was Lorenzo Snow or Wilford Woodruff, but one of them said that they were thankful to see Joseph's imperfections. I echo their sentiment: If God could use Joseph for His work, maybe there is hope for me.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ready for a New Year!

I am ready for the most amazing year ever. I can just feel it in my bones that everything will change this year. I will put another college degree under my belt. I will have some great business opportunities (some known, others unknown). I will pay off my truck. I will come close to finishing my oil painting of the Nauvoo Temple.

In my ward, I teach the Elders' Quorum. The lesson manual this year is on Joseph Smith. When I was a missionary, I loved teaching the Joseph Smith principle of the first discussion. The Spirit was always there to testify of the truth of Joseph's experiences. Nothing is greater than telling someone that there are prophets again on the earth.