Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Fathers' Day, from Ask Mormon Guy

Editor's Note: This post has be re-posted in its entirety from the author's Tumblr space. If you aren't following Ask Mormon Guy on Tumblr, follow along here. You may get more updates than with this longer-form focused blog.
“Next to eternal life, the greatest of all gifts that our Father in Heaven can bestow on a man is the opportunity of being blessed with sons and daughters.” (Elder L. Tom Perry)
Happy Fathers’ Day, from Ask Mormon Guy to you and your own.
Fathers occupy a special place in the church. On top of providing and caring for their wives and children, fathers are often the first line of defense in protecting their homes from the evils of the world. Through the righteous use of the Priesthood and the cultivating of Christ-like attributes, fathers act as a shield to those whom God has commanded them to protect.
Take today to call your father. Tell him ‘thank you.’ Say ‘I love you.’ He may not act like he appreciates it; most dads are too manly to admit to that. But I promise you he does.
Then, live the rest of the year in gratitude for your parents. Because even though Fathers’ Day, like Mothers’ Day from a month prior, comes only once a year, each and every day should be spent in thanksgiving for our earthly parents.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Providing Hope in Times of Tragedy

Another terrible tragedy has struck the shores of the United States.
On the afternoon of April 15, during the annual running of the Boston Marathon, a large-scale bombing struck a portion of the race just south of the finish line. Three people have been confirmed dead, and more than 140 injured, as survivors struggle to find peace and keep up with the work required to move in — both in the short-term and foreseeable future.
At times like these, it's easy to see the worst in the human race. Who would be so terrible to justify this sort of action, especially one that could take the life of an 8-year-old boy? Terror is terror, but when it strikes close to home, it can seem unbearable.
But times like these also illicit the best in the human race. Even before the full effects of the blast had warn off, first responders and security personnel rushed to see to sort out the survivors, the injured and the deceased. Scores of Bostonians offered up their homes to racers and others affected by the tragedy. Newspapers jumped into action to try to cover the tragedy.
A quote by the late Fred Rogers went viral, and reminded us all that, even in the worst of the human existence, we can find good:
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'" -- Fred Rogers
This quote, among others, reminds us that — even when the dark seems the darkest — there is always hope. Even as the most abominable of inhumane acts strikes the collective consciousness, we can rely on our hope and faith to carry us through. That is the essence of humanity, and it is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ; to provide hope for the hopeless, care for the afflicted and love for those who need it most. 
Even as we contemplate on the lost life of one of the most pure and innocent of God's children, there is hope. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we were reminded just a short time ago about the promises of eternity, especially when dealing with the lost of small, loved ones:
“The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world," the prophet Joseph Smith said. "They were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again.”
 Words such as these provide us some measure of comfort, even if it isn't nearly enough when we are passing through it. That is simply because words can do little to quell the gush of emotions felt by the most affected by tragedy. But given time, faith and an overarching reliance on the promises made by God and his Son, we can overcome.
It's hard to see from this vantage point, but the Lord has promised us great blessings if we endure the trials of life. And with greater trial and tragedy come greater blessings. This was the theme of a recent General Conference talk, in October 2012:
As I felt the guilt, anger, and self-pity trying to consume me, I prayed that my heart could change," Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the 70 said. "Through very personal sacred experiences, the Lord gave me a new heart, and even though it was still lonely and painful, my whole outlook changed. I was given to know that I had not been robbed but rather that there was a great blessing awaiting me if I would prove faithful.
Like Elder Bowen, we don't know the reason why bad things happen to certain people, even good people — the best people, perhaps. Job did not know the reasons why the Lord allowed Satan to afflict him, one of his most obedient sons, with the sorest challenges in life. But like Job, we all have the promise that "in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:26).
Through modern revelation, the Lord promises each of his followers that tribulation always leads to great blessings — whether in this life or the eternities:
"For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet but is night at hand." (D&C 58:4)
The gospel of Jesus Christ provides hope to a world filled with anger, sorrow, depression and despair. As members of the Lord's church and holders of the gospel, it is our responsibility to share this hope with the masses. Let us be like the Savior, who in times of trial, desperately extended the invitation to all to "Come Unto Me."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April General Conference approaches

Three more days to General Conference. Are you prepared to receive the word of the Lord, as spoken by Prophets, Seers and Revelators?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

YSA DEVO: Elder Bednar speaks to New York-area single adults

Photo courtesy of LDS Public Affairs
Those who have "eyes to see and ears to hear" can attune themselves to know great mysteries of the kingdom, in this life and no matter what age, Elder David A. Bednar said Saturday during a young single adult devotional in Syracuse, N.Y.
Elder Bednar, accompanied by his wife, Susan, spoke to a group of YSAs from the Buffalo, Rochester, Palmyra, Syracuse, Owego and Utica Stakes after a full day of training for leaders, missionaries and members in the upstate New York area. The Apostle spoke with Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Gordon Smith of the area presidency in the northeast United States. Elder Bednar began with a few brief remarks, then opened up the two-hour-plus meeting to Questions & Answers from the audience, inviting the other General Authorities and their wives to weigh in at intervals.
The format required the youth to actively engage with these authorities, and to think critically about issues they would like addressed during the devotional.

"If one is to learn by the power of the Holy Ghost, then it requires the use of moral agency," Elder Bednar said. "Agency is the capacity to act and not merely be acted upon."
The leaders addressed such issues as the Priesthood, effective home and visiting teachers, overcoming adversity and avoiding Satan's influence in the world, becoming converted by putting off the natural man and the new church-wide missionary age change.
Elder Bednar reminded the young adults that, despite their solitary status in the world, they are never truly without a friend and companion.
"You are never alone because of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost," he said. "And if you don't have the priesthood in your home, go to His home where you can have the priesthood all the time." 
The new missionary age range allows families to continue teaching their children, preparing them to serve honorable full-time missions well before the 18- and 19-year-old missionaries arrive at their respective training centers. These lessons are made possible because of the church's vast array of teaching materials available online at
"You can have Sunday School anywhere you want, with the same textual and digital resources that the church has," Elder Bednar said. "You are now the library." 
The youth of the church are able to serve today better than in other eras. It is not enough to wait until reaching a future marital status, education level or state of employment to begin serving in the kingdom.
"Young adults should not ask what the church can do for them, but what can they do for the church?" Elder Bednar's wife, Susan, said. "You are special. You have so much to add. Don't just think about what you can take." 

Elder Bednar to speak to Upstate NY YSA

Photo courtesy of LDS Public Affairs

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will speak at a Young Single Adult fireside tonight in Syracuse, N.Y. 
Elder Bednar will be joined by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy, Bishop Dean Davies of the Presiding Bishopric and Elder Gordon Smith, who represents the area presidency in the northeastern United States.
Follow @AskMormonGuy on Twitter to follow the meeting, and join the conversation at #BednarYSA. If you'll be at the meeting, which encompasses young single adults of the church from across Upstate New York and their guests, feel free to join in the conversation.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

BEDNAR: 'Do Not Shrink'

Elder Bednar and his wife, Susan, leave the Conference Center following a session of the October 2010 General Conference. Photo courtesy of LDS Public Affairs.
Sometimes, it's all you can do to hold on.
But other times, surviving is not enough. We must seek to actively grow, to 'not shrink' in front of temptation and trial.
That was the message of Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles at a CES broadcast on Sunday, Mar. 3, 2013 at UT-Arlington.
"Even with strong faith, many mountains will not be moved," Elder Bednar said. "And not all of the sick and infirmed will be healed. If all opposition were curtailed, if all maladies were removed, then the primary purposes of the Father's plan would be frustrated."
Passing through trials does not mean the Lord has left us. Rather, it means He is hearing our prayers, is guiding our paths and leading us through these times by the hand. Our job is not only to survive these challenges, but also to not shrink in front of them. Having the strength to not shrink in front of our trials is a gift for all church members, not just General Authorities and others specially chosen by God.
Remember that having faith in God is not knowing that He WILL heal us, but only that he CAN heal us.
"We must have the faith to accept the Lord's will, even when it is not what we want," Elder Bednar reminded us. Learning to accept God's will is one of the chief learning opportunities of mortality.
For the full address by Elder Bednar, including a foreword by his wife, Sister Susan Bednar — "the love of [Elder Bednar's] life, and very cute" — click here.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pres. Monson's Latter-day Blog Post

Courtesy of LDS PA
Pres. Thomas S. Monson has a message to share.
But you won't find this one in General Conference, or the Ensign.
The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took to the Internet on Friday to pen a thoughtful piece on his five years as president of the church. During that time, missionary work has exploded -- including the announcement of a lower age for service; temple work has expanded, including 31 new temples announced, 16 dedicated and five more rededicated, with another dedication planned in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in March; and thousands of church members strive weekly to seek after "the one" who may be lost, wandering or trying to return to full church activity.
It's been 50 years since Pres. Monson was called to serve as an Apostle, as well, and like any 85 year old, age is a natural part of progression. That's why his words on the subject were incredibly beneficial to any who wonder at his strength or mobility at such an advanced age:
Despite any health challenges that may come to us, despite any weakness in body or mind, we serve to the best of our ability. I assure you that the Church is in good hands. The system set up for the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve assures that it will always be in good hands and that, come what may, there is no need to worry or to fear. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, whom we follow, whom we worship, and whom we serve, is ever at the helm.
Much work has been done, but there is even more work to do. The church needs each of its members to accomplish a great work in their sphere of influence. Friday was a great time to remind us — and thanks to the Internet, he did.

LDS AGE: New Missionaries Prompt New MTC in Mexico

It had to happen.
With the recent surge in missionary applications brought on by the LDS mission age-change, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was going to need a facilities upgrade to keep up with the thousands of additional youth who would soon flood training centers around the world.
The church announced Jan. 31 that Benemerito de las Americas -- a high school in Mexico -- will be converted to a full-time Missionary Training Center in July 2013. The change will displace hundreds of high school students who study at a faith-based private school, in the place of thousands who will learn to teach the gospel to potentially millions.
Elder Russell M. Nelson mentioned the school's long history, while also reflecting on its great potential, in remarks made during the announcement:
“This hallowed ground where we stand today will become more sacred with each passing year,” Elder Nelson said. “Better, higher and holier purposes will be served in the future than we’ve ever known before.”
The First Presidency was brief in its statement to the media regarding the announcement:

Church leaders announced today that the Church-owned high school Benemerito de las Americas near Mexico City will become a training center for missionaries who will serve in Mexico and other counties of North, Central and South America.
Church leaders made the decision after considering every immediate alternative that could alleviate the demand at the Church’s other missionary training centers around the world, including the MTC in Provo, Utah.
The church had previously announced massive increases in missionary applications, with some speculating an increase of as much as 2,000 percent. Either way, there are going to be a lot of missionaries coming. And now, many of them -- from a variety of nations -- can go straight to Mexico City before leaping into the field.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TWO-FOR-TUESDAY: Another Mormon Video

I know I just posted an "I'm a Mormon" video, but this one really struck me.

Lindsey Stirling is the subject of one of the latest installments of the popular YouTube video series. The irony? She's already a YouTube sensation, having performed with The Piano Guys, Alex Boye and others with her unique brand of modern violin music — performed while dancing.

In this video, Lindsey doesn't just talk about her work, though. She also opens up about her earlier struggles with eating disorders — a fact that is often left unchronicled, and seems unfathomable for as beautiful of a girl as her — while urging the viewer to remember their true worth as children of God.

Watch the video. You will be impressed.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Those who know me know that I'm a sportswriter. I love sports; the thrill of the crowd, the passion of the fans, the gall produced by every player on the field for his time. It's where heroes are born, legends are made, and real men (and women) step up.

Sport is more than a game. It is a passage to another life. Much like movies, sports can take us away from our troubles and worries for a brief respite, allowing us to feel the collective energy of a team or fanbase linked for one common good. Plain and simple, sports are the epitome of unity in this world.

And even Mormons play them — beyond the recreational church-basketball leagues.

Will Hopoate is an accomplished rugby player, turning pro with Manly in New Zealand's top-flight professional rugby league when he was 18. But as his 19th birthday neared, he faced a decision. Hopoate, after all, is a Mormon. And like most Mormon men at 19, Hopoate wanted to served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The ramifications could be brutal. He would leave his home for two years, not being allowed to play rugby the whole time, ending his contract with his team and the financial security (rumored to be around $1.5 million a year) that came with it.

But Hopoate also knew what he knew. He wanted to preach the gospel and share the message of Jesus Christ's love with the world. So he took the plunge — and is now serving as Elder Hopoate in Australia.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

GOSPEL CLASSIC: Beware of Pride

I wish to share a few quick words on Pride.

Better yet, I'll let Pres. Benson, through Pres. Hinckley, do it:

Sunday, January 13, 2013

CES DEVO: 'What is Truth?'

Via LDS Church News
Truth plays a significant role in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Member of the church bear testimony at least once a month of its truth. We are told to listen to true prophets, and turn away from false ones. And in all matters, we seek after truth.
In the first CES Devotional of the year, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf admonished young single adults to determine what is truth in Provo, Utah on Jan. 13, 2013.
"So often, the truth we tell ourselves are merely fragments of the truth -- and sometimes, they are not really the truth at all," Pres. Uchtdorf said.
Via LDS Church News
"Never before in the history of the world has it been more important to discern truth from error," he added.
Uchtdorf admonished those young adults at a packed Marriott Center on BYU campus -- as well as thousands more via satellite and Internet streams around the world -- to seek after truth, in any shape, place or locale it may reside.
"We seek for truth where ever we can find it," he said of Latter-day Saints, who rely on an Article of Faith to seek after anything 'virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy.'
We need to come to our own knowledge of the truth, and not rely on blind obedience or the faith of others as we gain a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ -- the ultimate truth. The Lord God will never leave you alone in your quest for truth, and will even guide you through the darkness of this world, if you will let him.
But you can do much. And He knows it.
"The Lord has great confidence in you," Uchtdorf said. "He trusts you."
A complete recap of the Devotional can be found here and here.
For a full video, see here. Also, join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #CESdevotional.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

MULTIMEDIA MONDAY: The Best is Yet to Come

There was a saying made popular in the church around this time last year, paraphrasing a devotional address delivered by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. It was simple, so much that it contained only three magnificent words:

Remember Lot's Wife.

You may remember the Biblical story of Lot and his family, or at least the Mormon Message aired during the New Year celebrations of 2012. Lot was Abraham's uncle, and he and his family received strict orders to flee their home in Sodom & Gomorrah ahead of the sinful city's destruction. Leave immediately, they were told. Gather only what they could carry. And perhaps most important of all, don't look back.

Lot obeyed, and he apparently taught his children well enough to listen when a Prophet of God spoke. But his wife didn't. Sure, she packed up her belongings with the rest. She trudged along, not wanting to leave her husband and children. Perhaps she even genuinely looked forward to a vacation I the wilderness with some extended relatives.

But then it happened: she looked back. Or, as Elder Holland said, "she looked back longingly." Her heart wasn't on obeying the counsel of God. It was in her home, left behind with many of their worlds possessions. An so, due to her act of disobedience and begrudging attitude, the Lord turned her into a pillar of salt.

How often do we look back, even while we begin our journey toward seeming obedience? How often do we say to God, "Sure, I'll give this a try, but I'm pretty sure I know better"? The danger, as Elder Holland repeatedly warns, is not in looking back in our lives, but in doing so with longing.

This applies to the good and the bad. If we've committed transgression in previous days, let them be. There is no need to drudge up mud or skeletons in your own or someone else's closet. The Lord has a short memory, if we repent. Why should we focus on the past, when he doesn't? Let it be.

Likewise, the good that you've done in the past? Remember it. Love it. Cherish it. But press forward, looking for more opportunities to "go about doing good." The journey is long, and we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. We must be constantly moving forward -- otherwise, we risk falling backward.

As 2013 embarks on another year, let us move forward, resolving to be a little more cheerful, a little more kind, a little better than we were before. And if we are having trouble leaving the past where it should be, focus on three little words:

Remember Lot's Wife.