couple reading bible

Mercy Has Always Been A Hallmark Of A Christian


When I was a young man I use to wonder why some people were so unfriendly, or different looking, or dress so strange. I would never verbalize it to others, of course, but in my heart I would find myself judging people.  With age came experience, much of which was gained by my service in the church. I started to see that I had been very un-christlike in my assessment of others. It became apparent to me that others had very different backgrounds than the one I came from.  I began to “grow up” and see them in a different light.

Over the years I have been in private interviews with thousands of church members. I have come to understand that each of us is born under different circumstances which give each of us our own “perspective” of life. Sometimes this “perspective” is, for us, the only true and perfect way of life. While the gate to heaven is ‘straight and narrow’, many  of us are struggling and taking “baby steps” in the right direction, while others take steps by “leaps and bounds.” I have learned to be grateful that the Lord is the judge of us all, and not men. 

I have learned that I can only properly judge the progress of myself (sometimes I can’t even do that) and then try to help others, as best I can, on the path back to our Father. I better see the wisdom found in the teachings of the Savior.
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)

Let us follow the admonition found in the scriptures that say:

“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly…”

Mercy has always been a hallmark of a  (true) Christian!



Pray To God, But Row For Shore


“There exists a Divine partnership between God and man that is wonderfully depicted in the following story. A young minister was driving through the countryside when he spotted a farmer tilling 40 acres of magnificent farmland. The minister pulled over and addressed the farmer, “God has certainly blessed you with a wonderful piece of land.” The farmer replied, “Yes, but you should have seen the mess it was in when God had it to Himself!”

The Combination of faith and works has long been a hallmark principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The apostle James wrote-

“…faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:17-20)

While the farmer recognized that God was the principle hand in his success, he also understood that much work was required on his part. There is an old proverb among Russian sailors, when facing stormy seas, that says, “Pray to God, but row for shore.” This practical way of looking at life will no doubt develop strength of character and build our faith in times of adversity. When faced with life’s stormy challenges, it is not “good enough” to fervently pray in faith to Heavenly Father for deliverance; then sit back and expect for the boat to magically make its way to the shore in safety. We must also do our part!

I know of a woman who held a strong feeling of animosity towards another sister in the church. She confided in me that she struggled in forgiving and accepting this other sister because of past negative experiences. She told me that she prayed often to learn to “like” this other person but that it hadn’t worked. I asked her if she had attempted to do anything on her part, like taking something over to this sister, or offering service of some kind for this woman, or perhaps just taking the time to talk to her as a friend. She said she hadn’t. I suggested she might try. Later she reported that she had put forth a concerted effort to get to know her as we had discussed. In so doing, she learned more about this other woman and could better understand why this sister acted the way she did. And, while she reported that they were still not “good” friends, she informed me that she had learned how to better accept this sister for who she was. Because of her efforts, their relationship had changed from “intolerable” to one of “understanding.”

When Jacob and his family were starving, he didn’t just pray for food. He sent his sons into perilous Egypt to procure it. There they were delivered by the Lord through Joseph, their long lost brother. We must always recognize that God will bless our lives, but he expects us to do our part. By allowing us to assist Him in helping ourselves, He is developing Godly characteristics in us. “Pray to God, but row for shore” is an excellent saying to remember when we are in times of need.



It’s Easy To Be A Father; But Hard To Be A Dad!

A Father can be biologically connected to a child, but a Dad is both emotionally, and spiritually connected to his children as well. A Father can often be found writing checks to support his children, but a Dad is checking in on his children each and every night to make sure of their welfare. A Father can show up to an activity when it fits his schedule well, but a Dad’s schedule often revolves around the lives of his children so all is well.

A Father, we all have one, and respect is surely due his way. But a Dad is someone we yearn for and long to have embrace. I join the millions who celebrate this day by spending time with my Father who also happens to be my Dad. Their influence and example has stabilized nations, and blessed the lives of all since the days of Adam. Blessed be any child, who has them both in their life.

It’s easy to be a Father, but much harder to be a Dad. And there are numerous reasons why things don’t work out perfectly for many Fathers, some reasons of which are valid and unavoidable. But what a wonderful world it would be…if all Fathers really wanted to become a Dad!

the great escape

When Our Point Of View Differs From That Of Our Leaders

TheDiscipleMD (Read In Over 112 Countries)

My favorite movie of all-time is “The Great Escape.” The World War II prison movie contains, for me, all the elements of a great movie. Recently I watched it again. One of the lines in the movie jumped out at me. After fifty of the escapees are executed by the Gestapo, a few others are returned to the concentration camp. Upon arriving they are informed that fifty of the men have been killed. A conversation between the officer in charge at the camp, Ramsey, and Hendley, a returning escaped prisoner, played by James Garner ensues. Ramsey says, referring to the ringleader of the breakout:

“Roger’s idea was to get back at the enemy the hardest way he could. Mess up the works! From what we have heard here, I think he did exactly that!

Hendley replies: “Do you think it was worth the price?”

Ramsey replies: “That depends on your point of view, Hendley!”

A couple of years ago I was sitting on the stand with a member of a bishopric of the ward I was visiting. We were chit chatting before the start of the meeting and he began to subtly complain about how church headquarters was too controlling of the local affairs of the church, and that ‘they’  were not as informed to our problems as the local leaders. He lamented that the church was too “centralized” and that more power to make decisions should be given to local leaders. He was interested in my response.

I told him that if he examined other churches he would see the fallacy in his thought process. It seemed to me that every time I read something about other denominations,  they were battling over, not only administrative issues, but also doctrinal questions. One part of their leadership would pronounce something, and another part of the same denomination would reject it. They always seemed to be divided. I told him that the splintering of authority was the cause of the apostasy. I told him that  I thought  the brethren were inspired in administering the affairs of the church! He politely smiled and then softly said, “Well, I guess it depends on your point of view.”

My goal is that I will always see the affairs of the church from the Lord’s “point of view.”  I believe that “point of view” comes from inspiration and revelation as revealed through living apostles and prophets.  Most of us understand that, “our point of view,” can be vastly different from that of the Lords. Sometimes it will be the same, and sometimes not. However, if we humble ourselves and make the commitment to have the same point of view as living prophets and apostles, I know we are on solid ground.

What I detected from my friend was that he wanted his “point of view” to be right.  And I’m sure that often his view is in line with that of the  Lords.   However, the true test of discipleship is when we are willing to humble and submit ourselves when our ‘point of view’ doesn’t align with that of the prophets.


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