Category Archives: Repentance

What Parenthood Has Taught Me About God: How He Relates To Me, How I Relate To Him

One of my sons just became a father. Words cannot describe how happy he and his wife are. His hopes for his son are unbounded. It started me thinking about my relationship with God.

Good:

Sometimes, Life Takes Us By Surprise...

Sometimes, Life Takes Us By Surprise…

Over the years, life has taught me that God wants me to come as I am. He wants me to learn to be happy regardless of my circumstances, problems or pains, successes or failures. If I’ve got mud on my face, He’ll take me that way. If it will make me happier, He hands me a washcloth. While He may not care about the mud of dirt, He wants me to avoid face planting in the spiritual mud, and He patiently stands by and welcomes me back each time I’ve hit the mud puddles again. Importantly, He expects the same of others around me, encouraging those with ears to hear to welcome me back as well. As I receive the washcloth over and over, eventually I can teach myself to face plant only when there’s a good reason (like when it’s actual mud of dirt and there are grandkids around who need to be taught by example to love playing in the mud).

Father working with son in gardenI have learned that God wants me to let go of my past, to let go of the ungodly, unrighteous things I’ve done when I was pushing Him away, when I was singing not His song but rather my own discordant one. He wants me to be comfortable showing up, participating with gusto, practicing over and over, without putting on a false front or prettying myself up first. I can come and sing, mud, sour notes, and all.

Better:

Sunday-go-to-meetin' Clothes For General ConferenceMore importantly, I really think that God also wants me to put my best foot forward. When I don my Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes, I show respect for God by putting on the best that I have, whatever that is for me.

Best:

father and three of his children work together to wash a carMost importantly, God wants me to keep on keepin’ on. He doesn’t want me to get stuck.

He doesn’t want any of us to get stuck.

father dances with his daughter in their homeThe enemies of God try to convince me that I can’t improve or shouldn’t improve, that I’m a lost cause, that there’s simply no use in trying, that it’s silly to learn the dance and sillier still to try to hear the music. I’m here to tell you that they’re wrong. Real life begins when I decide to progress, to progress continually, to progress towards Him. God wants me to get off my duff and to get moving in His direction. And according to His principles. He wants me to know that He’s beside me, as I learn to improve, as I learn the joy of the dance. Joy isn’t an emotion; it’s a decision. As I keep practicing with joy in my heart, God is especially thrilled when I go beyond just the dance steps and start to hear the music. How sweet the sound!

father in Portugal sits with his children in their living room to read from the scriptures togetherSo open your mouth and prove how people can change. I’ve changed. My family has changed. We all can change. We all can keep changing. For the better.

God wants to lift us up. Let Him.

We are all His children.
What may we do today to show up, act like His children, and join in the dance?
What may we do today to improve?

father in the Philippines plays with his daughter while she is on his shoulders

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Bonus Materials:

1. “Times when families laugh together are among the most precious times a family can have.” —Mister Rogers

2. Video, “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father”:
Watch/download at the lds.org link or via YouTube below:

3. Read, watch or listen: Wilford W. Andersen, “The Music of the Gospel”, Apr 2015 LDS General Conference.

4. Read, watch or listen: Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best”, Oct 2007 LDS General Conference.

Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud

Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header photo, “Children Playing Around The World: In Indonesia, playing with a water buffalo friend with rays of sun through foliage”—expofotomiami.org/30-magicas-fotografias-de-ninos-jugando-alrededor-del-mundo/
  • Photo, “Sometimes Life Takes Us By Surprise…”—www. popmommy.com/pop-culture/5-questions-casey-from-tlcs-quints-by-surprise
  • Photo, father-working-with-son-in-garden—www. lds.org/media-library/images/father-talking-to-son-1080483?lang=eng
  • Photo, Sunday-go-to-meetin’-clothes-for-general-conference—www. lds.org/media-library/images/general-conference-october-2011-898865?lang=eng
  • Photo, father-and-three-of-his-children-work-together-to-wash-a-car—www. lds.org/media-library/images/philippines-family-washing-truck-1343760?lang=eng
  • Photo, father-dances-with-his-daughter-in-their-home—www. lds.org/media-library/images/father-daughter-dancing-1018852?lang=eng
  • Photo, father-in-Portugal-sits-with-his-children-in-their-living-room-to-read-from-the-scriptures-together—www. lds.org/media-library/images/portugal-study-studying-books-scriptures-families-1418772?lang=eng
  • Photo, father-in-the-Philippines-plays-with-his-daughter-while-she-is-on-his-shoulders—www. lds.org/media-library/images/daughter-on-shoulders-1119081?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud”—inpho.ie/; Morgan Treacy is an outstanding Irish photographer, acclaimed for his sports photography and especially for his action shots of rugby
  • Photo, “Proud New Dad”—from private collection

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Proud New Dad

Proud New Dad

Stumped by my Son

Once a week we hold a family activity we call, Family Home Evening.  Or if you are my second son “Hamily Fome Evening.”  He is definitely big enough to say it correctly.  However, I’m pretty sure I’ll cry when he stops calling it that.

Family Home Evening is a program designed for parents to give gospel instruction in the home and for fun!  Our children love Family Home Evening! As a parent, I love what it does for my family.  I love taking an opportunity to teach formally about gospel principles and scripture stories.  Most of all, I love helping my children learn how to take these principles and stories and apply them in their own lives, and in our home!  “Making connections!” as my seven-year old would say.

Many wonderful things can come out of preparing for, and holding, regular Family Home Evening.  I truly believe that it was a strength and blessing in my life growing up, and that it will be in the lives of my children.  If nothing else, Family Home Evening provides us a setting to ask questions, discuss, testify, and grow in our faith at home.

One such question came up this week.  Brendan and I had wrangled all the kids into the living room, through the opening song and prayer, and coerced them all into reverence (sort of…).  I pulled out the objects I needed to present my lesson on King Solomon and Wisdom when my son raised his hand and asked, “Mom, how did Jesus do it?  How did He not ever mess up and do anything bad?…Because, it’s hard…” My son’s voice trailed off and he choked a little on that last line.  Looking down at him, seated on the floor next to his 5 year old brother and his 4 year old sister, he suddenly seemed so old to me.  And so young.  He swallowed hard. I could see the tears begin to brim in his eyes.  Those blue almond shaped eyes, like his Dad’s.  I had never really considered his question before.  How had Christ done it? because it IS hard!  Even for wonderful little boys (and girls) who know what is right and want what is right! IT IS HARD!  I struggled with my answer.

Fortunately, my husband had an insight that I think is true.  Brendan explained to our children that Jesus could live a life without sin, without doing anything bad, because He loved Heavenly Father more than anything else!  Jesus loved Heavenly Father so much that He never let anything this world had to offer come between Them!  Jesus loved Heavenly Father so much that with every decision He made (big or small) He never forgot what Heavenly Father wanted Him to do.  More importantly, Jesus never forgot the kind of person Heavenly Father wanted Him to become!

So, how do we live our lives to be Christ-like?

“Thou Shalt love the Lord they God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they mind.  This is the first and the great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (I added the italics KJV Matt 22:27-28)

“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (KJV John 14:15)  Obedience is the evidence of our love for the Savior, as was the Savior’s obedience evidence of His love for the Father.

My son is right, though.  It truly is hard.  We live in a fallen world, but we are not left without resources to guide and strengthen our faith!  We are not left without a way to correct our mistakes!  Through the Atonement, through Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane, His death, and His glorious Resurrection we are blessed with power over the bad!   We are blessed with the power of repentance!

Repentance is what makes perfection possible in this life.  Repentance is the sweetest blessing.

To my sweet boy, who feels things deeper than many, and to all of us pondering similar questions:  You LOVE God the Father.  You LOVE the Savior.  You LOVE all others.  And when you mess up, whether you meant to or not, you LOVE the Father and the Son enough to turn to them, confessing your wrong, seeking forgiveness, compensating and making amends to those you wronged.  Love Him enough not to do it again.  It will be hard.

Don’t worry, sweet boy, I’ll help you.  I’ll remind you how very much our Heavenly Father loves and treasures His Children.  I’ll remind you that hard things always take practice and that’s what this life is for, to practice!

Will you help me, too?  I need you to remind me that it’s okay to forget and mess up and that we can make it better by turning to the Savior.  I need you to help me remember how to forgive quickly.  You are so good at that.

Please, let’s help each other.  Let’s love Heavenly Father more than anything this world has to offer.  Let’s help others on their way.

Let The Storm Rage On — Committing To Fight The Good Fight

Quick: What do you think of when you hear this word? “Ordinances.”

Okay, that may be a bit strange. Try this one: “Covenants.”

What went through your mind? Good? Bad? Ugly? Modest? Fight? Commitment?

Sometimes (often?) I feel a need to fight against expectations. At times those expectations are of good behaviors, at other times of bad. In the movie “Frozen”, the character Elsa seemed to feel much the same way:

Not everyone appreciates her the way I do, but I love the way Idina Menzel sings. To me, the good in this song is inspiring. But not the bad. In the song, good and bad are juxtaposed, in opposition to each other, just as they are in life. And as in life, I thank Heaven for the bad. By Celestial design, the bad helps me to recognize, appreciate, and embrace the good. Some of the lyrics:

I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on.
Cold never bothered me anyway. (All good.)

…the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all. (good)
It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through. (good)
No right, no wrong, no rules for me. (bad) I’m free. (good)

Let it go, let it go. (good) That perfect girl is gone. (bad)

Good, bad. Bad, good. What the heck does it matter? Well, according to the prophet Isaiah, it matters a lot:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness…

“The emphasis on truth as the way things really are suggests that it contrasts with the way things seem to be, no matter how convincing that deception may be. One such truth is the reality of evil. As Isaiah pointed out, at the heart of moral relativism is an inability or unwillingness to recognize evil.”
Daniel L. Belnap

Dave, what does this good-evil stuff have to do with ordinances? I thought you’d never ask. Ordinances in any faith community help us to shun evil, to choose the right, to commit to be good. It draws a line in the snow. It draws a line in the sand, in the dirt, on the concrete.  A bar/bat mitzvah means “son/daughter who is subject to the commandment, to the law of God”. The first pillar of Islam is kalima shahadah, meaning to promise/testify/witness my word to God. Christian baptism is a covenant with God to repent, to be clean before Him, to accept Christ’s invitation when he said, “Come, follow me.” Ordinances and covenants are a two-way promise: We promise to follow God; he promises us certain blessings.

One thing I really, really love about being a Mormon is that my faith is full of ordinances. At eight years old, I was baptized. At twelve, I was ordained to the priesthood. At twenty-four, my wife and I were sealed for time and all eternity. Then our family gets to go to the temple together and do it all for others. Over and over. Each time, each ordinance, is a line in the snow/sand/whatever. Each is an additional level of commitment and reverence to God. Throughout life, we all make decisions. Ordinances help. They help us choose the right. They help us witness to God and to others that we will choose good over evil.

So, do what Elsa did. Do what you think is right. Be brave, and do it your way. Stay modest. Thumb your nose at a world that wants you to take your clothes off, and keep them on. Instead, yank off the gloves, and pull no punches. Stretch your powers as far as they can possibly go, and then stretch them a bit more. Say what is on your mind and in your heart.

FIGHT. Commit. Draw lines with ideas. Fight the good fight. Fight the good fight of faith.

I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on — Good never bothered me anyway.

Elsa Ready To Fight

Elsa Ready To Fight, Gloves Off

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Bonus Material:

1. Just like Elsa has powers she must learn about and learn to control, so do we. Listen or read Elder Ronald A. Rasband’s address regarding ways to tutor ourselves in having our hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another, entitled, “Building Spiritual Power in Priesthood Quorums”. (Length of audio: 16:18.)

2. Listen or read how God’s covenant with Abraham blesses us all. (Length of audio: 12:36.)

3. Read more about moral absolutes contrasted with moral relativism in an address by Dallin H. Oaks, “Religious Values and Public Policy“, Ensign, Oct 1992.

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Illustration, “Else Ready To Fight, Gloves Off,” www. moviefanatic.com/gallery/frozen-elsa-idina-menzel/

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Cleaning Maintenance, And Why A Spider Made Me Lie

Ever wish you could erase a mistake and start anew? I make mistakes all the time. Even after my baptism at eight years old, when I promised always to choose the right, I found I still made mistakes. Like when I lied.

Big Spider In Garden

Big Spider In Garden

Yes, I know. Rare raw-force exceptions aside, in general, nothing can make you do anything without your consent. So the spider didn’t make me lie. I lied and blamed the spider. You see, my blood freezes when I see spiders. I talked to my mom about it when I was a teenager, and she said that it was probably because I always saw her screaming and running from the room whenever she saw one. Hmmm, tempting—Blame the parent. Regardless of why my blood freezes, it was indeed why I decided only to pick ten strawberries and call the job done. My family assignment that day when I was nine years old was to pick a couple of pints of berries. Not hard, since we lived on a 23-acre farm in Missouri, where anything grows and grows big in the fertile Missouri mud, and where, right between the barn and the row of peach trees, we had a large strawberry patch of about an acre. Not hard at all, since there were strawberries all summer long, year after year.

Large Strawberry Patch

Large Strawberry Patch

I had picked ten berries when I saw the spider. As usual, I froze. Why is it I can’t take my eyes off a spider whenever I see one? After about twenty minutes of spider-watching-Dave and Dave-watching-spider, neither of us trusting the other much, I re-entered the farmhouse, gave my mom the ten berries, and that’s when it happened. I lied. I explained that I couldn’t find any more berries. That seemed to work…until Dad got home. By then, it was storming outside, thick Missouri rain, and Dad clearly anticipated berries with whatever we had for dinner. I didn’t see him home until he returned to the house, soaked to the skin, with about three pints of berries in his hands. Oh, and he was screaming. “No strawberries? Does this look to you like no strawberries?” (Translation: “You idiot! Why couldn’t you find these in the sun, and why did I have to find them in the rain???”) I burst into tears, told him about the big spider, how it scared the heck out of me, and I just couldn’t go any further into the patch. What if I had found more spiders?!? I must really have sounded terrified, which I was, both of Dad and of the spider on his strawberry throne, because Dad stopped what he was doing, and gave me a big hug. He was probably thinking, “You’re nine, and you’re still scared of spiders?”, but he hugged me all the same. Maybe it was because I was sobbing so hard. Or maybe it was the raw fear with which I was eyeing the three pints of berries.

I did eventually stop sobbing and grow up. When I was twelve and on one of my first overnight campouts, my brother stuck a garter snake in my face, and I said how cute it looked and asked to hold it. Since it failed to scare me, my brother was so mad that he refused to let me have the snake. I had to find my own slithering friend.

But this isn’t a post about berries or spiders or snakes. It’s not specifically about lying. It’s about making mistakes in general. And the clean-up in the aftermath.

Cleaning Maintenance

Cleaning Maintenance

Since the idea of “Forever Clean” was a bust, due to our propensity for serial sinning, we needed a way to accommodate the “Forever Cleansing” thing described in my previous post. God knew that, and He knows us, so He provided the means to erase the board every week, even when we make mistakes. He gave us the Holy Sacrament (communion, eucharist). By celestial design, the intent of the bread and wine (or for Mormons, the bread and water) is much more than mere symbols of the body and blood of Christ. It reminds us of our promises we made at baptism, to live His ways and always to remember Him. By celestial design, the intent goes way beyond the once-a-week symbols, helping us remember to follow Him in our heart and mind throughout each day wherever we happen to be and not limited to our thoughts in a holy place just on Sundays.

The Sacrament covers cleaning maintenance even when we make mistakes over and over. It’s not just for something I do just once and then decide not to do again, such lying or stealing. If I set myself on a new path of obedience, I can use it each week to stay clean from any kind of sin. I can use it if I get angry with a co-worker, overeat, or become lazy about service to others around me and not serving a friend as I should. Just as did my dad’s hug when I lied, the Sacrament helps me feel good about putting my mistakes behind me. I set aside the world. I enter instead a world bathed in light.

The Holy Sacrament helps me repent and cleanse the past. It helps me to stay clean.

Erasing The Slate; Starting Again With A Clean Slate

Erasing The Slate; Starting Again With A Clean Slate

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Bonus Material:

1. Watch, listen, or read Elder L. Tom Perry’s address discussing how partaking of the sacrament provides us with a sacred moment in a holy place, entitled, “As Now We Take the Sacrament”. (Length: 16:45.)

2. Watch, listen, or read the address of Elder Dallin H. Oaks on how the ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church, entitled, “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament”. (Length: 16:17.)

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “Big Spider In Garden”—www. donrelyea.com/blog/tag/spider/sermonview.com/cart/product_info.php?products_id=5321
  • Photo, “Large Strawberry Patch”—amandasteenphoto.com/2012/07/27/strawberry-fields-forever/
  • Photo, “Cleaning Maintenance”—www.cleanmyfacility.com/carpet-hard-surface-floor-cleaning-commercial.html
  • Photo, “Erasing The Slate; Starting Again With A Clean Slate”—lifeatthirtysomething.com/2014/01/a-new-year-a-clean-slate-operation-lose-the-baby-weight-find-my-brain-etc-begins-now/
  • Photo, “Making Ablution With Friends”, photo by: Masood Bhat/Kashmir Headlines—kashmirheadlines.in/kashheadlines/11222013-ND-getting-ready-for-prayersa-group-of-people-making-ablution-to-perform-prayers-in-historic-jamia-masjid-srinagar-photo-by-masood-bhat-kashmir-headlines-3452.aspx

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Reasons to make ablution, to make wudu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wudu):

(Source of list of reasons:
Described with beauty and grace at http://ahsanjaved.tumblr.com/)

Providing a sacred moment in a holy place:

Making Ablution With Friends

Making Ablution With Friends

Forever Clean: Asking For And Receiving Help

Seminary Teacher Laughs With His Class Of High School Students

Seminary Teacher Laughs With His Class Of High School Students

Growing up as a Latter-day Saint youth, I had lots of infrastructure to help me stay clean. Much of that had to do with learning to receive help from the spirit of God, learning to receive the Holy Ghost. From 9th to 12th Grade, I had lots of friends through opportunities in  education that I found in Seminary, a before-school Bible study class where they encourage lots of questioning and lots of peppered discussions. It was high school, and we were feeling our way in life. While others around us complained, whenever life’s worries got us down, we found friends, hugs, empathy, shared tears, and hearts that listened. All this infrastructure was strengthened by lessons we taught ourselves on our own initiative by learning to receive the Holy Ghost.

Seminary Student Participates In Class

Seminary Student Participates In Class

Not limited to youth, such lessons are ones I continually learn yet again as an adult. In my previous post, I shared an experience with a suicidal friend who had just lost his entire family in an accident, who soon changed and was able to seek on his own the further help that he needed. As I see it, the help that I received and the help that he received was because we were learning to receive the Holy Ghost.

Two Mindsets, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset

Two Mindsets, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset

Have you ever felt that your life was in the toilet? I know I have. Might you know someone who has hit rock bottom? I find the WAY OUT when I understand a need to change myself, to see myself as God sees me. That’s called repentance. I submit that the WAY OUT, wherever we find it, is always lit by God. We find it when we learn to receive the Holy Ghost. In psychological or sociological terms, here’s a great graphic, brought to us by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. She describes two mindsets, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. I have learned that I find a WAY OUT when I choose a growth mindset.

Missouri Sunrise Over Ozark Mountain Country

Missouri Sunrise Over Ozark Mountain Country

Throughout my life and through my own baptism in Missouri when I was eight years old, I’ve learned that baptism is a covenant, a two-way promise; we promise certain things to God, and He promises certain things to us. We promise to live His ways, to follow and remember Him; remembering brings us to asking Him for help. He promises to send us His Spirit if we remember Him. Baptism has two essential parts: By water and by fire (by the Spirit).

But why baptize? Why on earth should God teach us to be baptized? Joseph Smith taught: “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Page 314.) David Bednar explains the tools of the Holy Spirit, how He works: “The influence of the Holy Ghost is described in the scriptures as ‘a still small voice’ and a ‘voice of perfect mildness’.”

My conclusion: “Forever clean” doesn’t exist. Along the way, I make lots of mistakes. We all do. The good news is that “Forever cleansing” is alive and well. The Holy Ghost helps us get back on track. By celestial design, that’s His job. I’ll be forever glad that He does it well.

Cleansing Hands

Cleansing Hands

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Bonus Material:

Watch, listen, or read Elder David A. Bednar’s entire address regarding overcoming both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin, entitled, “Clean Hands and a Pure Heart”. (Length: 14:33.)

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “Seminary Teacher Laughs With His Class Of High School Students”—www. lds.org/church/news/parents-can-now-register-students-for-seminary-online?cid=HPTH012314379&im=true&lang=eng
  • Photo, “Seminary Student Participates In Class”—www. lds.org/church/news/parents-can-now-register-students-for-seminary-online?cid=HPTH012314379&im=true&lang=eng
  • Illustration, “Two Mindsets, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset”—alumni.stanford.edu/content/magazine/artfiles/dweck_2007_2.pdf, from web article—alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=32124
  • Photo, “Missouri Sunrise Over Ozark Mountain Country”—thepanoramapoint.wordpress.com/category/missouri/
  • Photo, “Cleansing Hands”—yankeecandleblog.wordpress.com/
  • Photo, “Bathing In The Ganges River To Cleanse Sins”—www. annbrooksphotography.com/blog/?p=1290

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Bathing In The Ganges River To Cleanse Sins

Bathing In The Ganges River To Cleanse Sins

5 Secrets of Staying Clean

Have you ever been so grungy that you clearly felt unclean? In St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, in the days after Hurricane Katrina, I joined a group of volunteers to help people clean up and repair their homes in the communities of Covington and Mandeville on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain. It was grueling work, and we were truly grungy. We overnighted at a local church with no power and no shower facilities. Someone came up with the brilliant idea to make an outdoor camp shower by drooping a garden hose over the top of a fence as a makeshift shower. For modesty, tarps were thrown over the fences, allowing a couple hundred volunteers from a dozen states to take a decent shower. I was surprised that it felt so good to be clean after a long day of backbreaking labor—and from such a small and simple thing.

Staying Clean And Sober

Staying Clean And Sober

I remember a close friend who worked very hard to stay clean, a young father with five small children. He had severe substance abuse problems with various substances, but he had recently developed a deeper desire to conquer them, to really lick it this time. On one visit, we had just sat down to talk with Jason and his wife, when he interrupted, “How do you do it, Dave? How do you get us to feel these things?” After that, we opened our hearts to each other like never before, and our souls were knit together like brothers. Each time, we would plan our next visit, a week away or more often a month away, depending on what he felt he needed for support.  Sometimes, in the dead of night, he would just call me out of the blue and say, “Please come, Dave. I need your help. I need to stay clean.” These were some of my favorite moments, sitting and talking in the dark on the small stoop outside his home. But I simply could not go to see him often enough, and I looked forward to each visit with all my heart.

Getting Clean, Staying Clean

Getting Clean, Staying Clean

These experiences remind me of how I felt on the day I was baptized. I was eight years old, and I think I was prepared to understand its value. In the months leading up to it, I remember distinctly talking to some young friends who had been baptized recently about how if I were to do any big-time sinning, I had better do it quickly before I was baptized so that I could wash away all those wrongs. While I didn’t yet have the attitude that God wanted me to have in recognizing the sacrifices that His Son has made on my behalf, it was clear that I understood the meaning of the ordinance of baptism as a symbol of cleansed sins and living a new life.

So, here are some secrets of staying clean:

  1. Recognize the need to get clean.
  2. Commit to getting clean.
  3. Put yourself in situations/places where you may stay clean.
  4. Ask for clean help when you need it.
  5. Be honestly curious. Learn more about staying clean.

I have learned for myself the importance of getting clean and staying clean. For me, the symbolic cleansing of baptism is a vital part of me doing so. 

Alma Baptizing People (Mosiah 18:7-17)

Alma Baptizing People (Mosiah 18:7-17)

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Bonus Material:

1. Read or listen: Alma baptizing as people came into the church of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 18:7-17 (in The Book of Mormon)

2. Watch, listen, or read James E. Faust’s address regarding this sacred ordinance, entitled, “Born Again”. (Length: 18:02.)

3. Resources to stay clean from drugs (most towns have some great community resources; this is merely an example): http://www.louisvilledrugrehabs.com/rehab-types/staying-clean-from-drugs/

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, Katrina volunteers—www. perfectplank.com/katrina.html
  • Photo, “Staying Clean And Sober”—www. louisvilledrugrehabs.com/rehab-types/staying-clean-from-drugs/
  • Photo Montage, “Getting Clean, Staying Clean”—blog. docsuggest.com/753/personal-hygiene-sofiya-sujad/
  • Illustration, “Alma Baptizing People”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/gospel-art/book-of-mormon?lang=eng#alma-baptizing-people-39653
  • Photo, “St. Tammany Katrina Clean-up”—www. nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2014/01/fema_canceling_disaster_loans.html

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St. Tammany Katrina Clean-up

St. Tammany Katrina Clean-up

On Leprosy and Being Cleansed

Have you ever seen a person with a conspicuous disease such as leprosy? We read of an honorable military leader in the Old Testament, “a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.” Naaman sought the help of God and then rejected it: the task was too small, too simple. But upon submitting to God’s counsel, upon bathing in the small river as instructed, he was cleansed. He was healed of the leprosy, and his skin was restored to the flesh of a baby.

As Heavenly Father established His teachings among mankind, He designated symbolic cleansing as an outward proclamation of an inward commitment to serve Him. By celestial design, the act of baptism is a small and simple thing. Note that God did this not to demand subservience as does a king, queen or any human magistrate but rather because He knows that, as humans, we are at our best when serving a Higher Source than self. When the Father sent His Son to bring us back to His teachings, he re-emphasized man’s need for baptism. After we strayed anew from those teachings, God did so as He restored His truths once again.

I was very young when I learned the value of all this. I grew up on a farm in Missouri in a friendly Mormon congregation, where a number of folks in the community decided to join us in our faith. Those who joined our church were baptized in our pond. Bob, a local college student, yearned to be baptized, and he wanted first to receive the permission of his parents, whom he loved dearly. For years they refused, and, as Bob waited for their hearts to change, after each time someone else was baptized, he would stay down at the pond. For long periods of time, he would cry out his soul to God for patience and understanding, with clenched fists and raised voice. I remember seeing him come up to the farmhouse, his eyes red and puffy, and I heard him say through tears how much he looked forward to his turn in our pond, when he could finally show his willingness to put his sins behind him. His earnestness made an impression on my young spirit, and to this day, each time I see a baptism, I see in my mind’s eye the intensity of Bob’s joy when he was finally able to do this for himself.

Short-sightedness and sin have made lepers of us all. A little symbolic cleansing can help.

Cleansing Hands

Cleansing Hands

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Bonus Material:

Watch, listen, or read Elder David A. Bednar’s entire address regarding the priesthood ordinance of baptism, entitled, “That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us”. (Length: 16:33.)

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Illustration, Naaman cleansed—www. sermonview.com/cart/product_info.php?products_id=5321
  • Photo, baby’s skin and dad, the epitome of safe and secure—www. webmd.com/parenting/baby/ss/slideshow-baby-skin-care (gallery image 13 of 21)
  • Photo, Missouri pond—thepanoramapoint.wordpress.com/category/photos/page/2/
  • Photo, “Cleansing Hands”—yankeecandleblog.wordpress.com/
  • Illustration, “John Baptizes Jesus Christ”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/gospel-art/new-testament?#john-baptizes-christ-39544

——– End of WebCredits ——–

John Baptizes Jesus Christ

John Baptizes Jesus Christ