The Doctrine of Christ

The Doctrine of Christ is referred to many times throughout the scriptures (both ancient and modern).  But what is the Doctrine of Christ?  What does it mean?  What is its purpose?  And how does it apply to us personally?  I believe this subject is enormously important to understand.  So, I would like to present it for general consideration.  But first, please ponder on this statement from Brother Brian K. Ashton, presented at the Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church, October 2016:  he said, The doctrine of Christ …is the means—the only means—by which we can obtain all the blessings made available to us through Jesus’s Atonement. It is the doctrine of Christ that allows us to access the spiritual power that will lift us from our current spiritual state to a state where we can become perfected like the Savior.”

The basic principles and ordinances of the Doctrine of Christ include:
    1. Learn of Jesus Christ.  Learn the truth about Him!  Begin with a “True Idea” about Him (e.g., that He actually exists).  Then, ponder on that idea …and, strive to learn more.
    2. Believe and exercise Faith in Jesus Christ (e.g.: Faith that He Actually Exists).
    3. Repent of any inappropriate behavior (our sins) and forsake them (making positive adjustment to our lives, as necessary).
    4. Be Baptized in His name by an authorized agent of the Lord.
    5. Receive the Gift, Companionship, and Influence of the Holy Spirit (aka the Holy Ghost), and
    6. Faithfully Endure well (continuing in righteousness) along the covenant path (to the end) as we follow the Doctrine of Christ and become gradually more like Him (more like Jesus Christ).  (See Preach My Gospel, Lesson 3, Pg 66; 2 Nephi 9:24; 2 Nephi 31:14-20; 3 Nephi 27:16-17; and Matthew 10:22.)
Three Important Points of Interest!
    1. Who can we trust? In whom can we truthy have faith.  The first bullet above refers to the ONLY  person upon whom we can truly have Faith to be saved (Jesus Christ Himself).  And we must exercise that Faith based upon something that is “True” about Him (e.g.: Jesus Christ actually exists!)  This “True” idea is necessary in order that a person may begin to have Faith in Christ. The next four (4) bullets above are essentially the Articles of Faith 1:4, or what is referred to as “…the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel.”  However, the last bullet (Endure well to the End), while not included in the original 4th verse of the Articles of Faith, has generally been accepted as a critical element of “the Doctrine of Christ.”  In this life, we must strive to endure faithfully on the Covenant Path leading to Jesus Christ, “the Holy One of Israel.”
    2. Faith in Jesus Christ is a unique kind of faith! It is not like having faith in your old truck, …or in crossing the street safely.  Nor is it like having faith in a friend or neighbor, nor your ability to do such and such.  Those types of faith may not always be reliable, nor based on truth.  However, the Faith we are discussing here is Faith in a Divine Being who really exists, and who is full of Light and Truth.  Real Faith MUST be based on a knowledge of something that is True, …a Truth!  In this case specifically, a true and correct knowledge of the “character, perfection, and attribute” of Jesus Christ. 
    3. I first heard specific and authoritative reference to “Endure to the End”(as being associated with the Articles of Faith 1:4), in August 1971.  At the time, I was living in Huntington, England (UK) with my dear wife Jenny, and our daughter Heather Marie.  It was the weekend of the first Area General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The conference was held in Manchester, England, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (August 27–29, 1971).  We were in attendance at that conference.  Our Prophet at the time, President Joseph Fielding Smith, presided at the conference and mentioned specifically “Endure to the End” as the 5th principle of the Church.  As he spoke to the Saints in England, He said, “…there are five (5) principles and ordinances of the Gospel.”  Then, he quoted from Articles of Faith 1:4 “…first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” And, while raising his hand, he added: “fifth, Endure to the End.”  While sitting there, I made a specific note of President Smith’s comments.  One of my takeaways from his talk was and is: the Doctrine of Christ is not just a four-step plan (i.e., Faith, Repentance, Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost).  In addition to having a “True Idea of Jesus Christ,” following Him, and abiding by His principles and ordinances, there is also another element in the process: Endure well to the End!

The importance of “the Doctrine of Christ” has been reinforced several times in the Holy Scriptures.  The Lord taught that the Doctrine of Christ “…is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto Me” (3 Nephi 11:32).  In simplest terms, it is the path our Redeemer has set out which, if followed, will bring His chosen people to a pure knowledge of Him, and which must be followed if we are to learn of Him, enjoy the full blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and ultimately receive Exaltation and Eternal Life.  (See 2 Nephi 31; 3 Nephi 11; 3 Nephi 15:9; D&C 76:50-70; and 2 John 1:9.)

In simplified terms, the Divine process works as follows: First, we learn some truth about Jesus Christ.  If we are wise, we will exercise Faith in that knowledge (or idea) about Him, and we will naturally seek to learn more.  As we do, we will begin to understand how wonderful and perfect He truly is; and we will wisely seek to learn more of Him and follow Him.  If we are sincere, we will naturally want to change or adjust our behavior (we repent) to align more with Jesus Christ.  In addition to making those changes, we will want to express our commitment to become more like Him through baptism (by one authorized to perform the ordinance).  When we do this (have Faith in Christ, Repent of un-Christlike behaviors, and are Baptized), the Lord has promised to provide a way for us to receive greater knowledge of the Father and the Son: He offers an increased influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives (we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost).

The Sacred Influence of the Holy Ghost!

Now, we know the Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead (Articles of Faith 1:1) and an individual personage of spirit (Doctrine & Covenants 130:22).  His influence for good is present and can be felt throughout the world.  As a member of the Godhead, we understand He has many duties, and these are reflected in His many titles: among which are “the Revelator,” “the Comforter,” “the Spirit of Truth,” “the Sanctifier,” and more.  We know that He testifies of and confirms the truth.  But His primary mission is to testify and confirm a truthful record or testimony of God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.  He inspires and confirms these truths to those who faithfully seek Him.  As we act on and faithfully strive to follow the Doctrine of Christ, and enjoy an increased influence of the Holy Spirit (the Revelator) in our lives, we will more readily receive additional knowledge and insight (truth) of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ through the influence of the Holy Spirit.  We will increase in our understanding of who Christ is (beyond just “an idea” of who he is).  We will grow in our understanding of “His character, His perfections, and His attributes,” and we will receive additional insights and confirmation of those truths by the Holy Ghost.

Throughout this process, we become increasingly motivated to modify or change our lives (additional repentance or adjustments) and become more like Jesus Christ.  Frankly, as our knowledge of Jesus Christ increases, so does our faith in Him …because we have more information about Him upon which to exercise our faith in Him.  And, as we gain more knowledge of Christ, we will see additional changes that must be made in our lives, and (if we truly desire to be like our Savior) we will continually be motivated to make those additional adjustments (through repentance).

Thus, with an increasingly greater influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we will be blessed to know the Savior more clearly and be guided in our progress along the path to becoming more like Him.

This then is the cycle of progression and sanctification:

      • Learning of Jesus Christ (by study and prayerful consideration),
      • Exercising faith in Him, receiving inspiration and knowledge of Him, desiring to be like Him,
      • Adjusting (repenting), and striving to live a Christ-like life (as we learn of Him),
      • Making a sacred commitment to “Follow Him” (personally and symbolically by being Baptized and regularly partaking of the Holy Sacrament),
      • Receiving increased inspiration, knowledge, and guidance from the Holy Spirit, and
      • Enduring well in this process to the end.

And, as we continue to receive increased inspiration and knowledge of Jesus Christ, we will yet have more information about Him upon which to exercise faith.  Our Faith in Jesus Christ will continue to grow, and the cycle will continue as we Endure Well and Faithfully to the End.

Important Points and a Summary!

Three very important behaviors that will fuel this process: 1) a greater study of the Holy Scriptures and the truth2) more effective personal prayers, and 3) faithful obedience and alignment to what we learn along the way.  These final three steps (essentially: Study, Pray, and Obey) provide the fuel we need to feed the mind and inspire growth along the Covenant Path.

If in this life, we remain steadfast in Christ, continue to have faith in Him, always retain a remission of our sins, rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us, obey the principles we learn, and endure well and faithfully in the Gospel, we will successfully follow the Doctrine of Christ, stay on the Covenant Path that leads to Him, and gain Eternal Life. This is “the Doctrine of Christ” (2 Nephi 31; 3 Nephi 11; D&C 76:50-70; and 2 John 1:9).

Importantly, as we faithfully follow His doctrine, we will increasingly gain the confidence necessary to stand spotless in His presence at the last day (D&C 121:45 and 1 John 2:28).  Therefore, our Spiritual Goal in this life should be something like this: Be worthy to stand spotless and confident before the Lord at the last day.  That should be our ultimate goal.  And, regardless of our age or position in this life, it doesn’t change.  Each day of our lives, we should strive to learn of Him, receive and retain a remission of our sins (Mosiah 4:12), listen to and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit (Moroni 10:5), continue in obedience to the commandments of God (3 Nephi 12:19-20), and honor our sacred covenants with Him (D&C 66:2).

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in speaking of the Doctrine of Christ, encourages us all to “seek through prayer and study of the scriptures” a divine witness of Christ’s “divine character, the Atonement, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Accept His doctrine by repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then throughout your life following the laws and covenants of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  (Ensign Magazine, May 2012.)

By following the Doctrine of Christ, we will stay on the Covenant Path that leads to Eternal Life, “the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7).  And it doesn’t really matter what point we’re at along the path. If we stay on the path and continue to progress, we will be following our Heavenly Father’s plan and becoming the person He wants us to be.  Ultimately, if we endure well and faithfully to the end, we will find that we have changed for the good.  Our “confidence” will “wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45-46), and “…when He shall appear,” we will find that we have become “like Him.” (1 John 3:2 and Moroni 7:48).

Now, what about “Hope and Charity”?

Charity is defined as the Pure Love of Christ,” or the pure love that Christ has.  In the above description of “the cycle of eternal progression,” Hope and Charity are byproducts of sincere Faith in Jesus Christ, and they increase proportionally as we become more “like” Christ.  As our faith grows, so grows our Hope in the future, and so grows our pure love of God and of all mankind (Charity).  I believe it is accurate to say, “the man with sincere Faith in Jesus Christ will have hope in the future and charity for all.  And the man with greater Faith in Jesus Christ will have greater hope in this life, and greater charity for all.”  As the Apostle Paul taught: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13).  Actually, these three are inseparable.  They do not come alone.  The person who has Faith and Hope in Christ will have Charity.  The more Faith and Hope, the more Charity.  A pure love of Christ (charity) is a more visible or outward manifestation of one’s Faith and Hope, and of being “Christ Like.” (See also: Book of Mormon, Moroni 7:33-47)

(For additional thoughts on “Faith, Hope, and Charity,” please click on the following link and read the post or article on “Faith and Charity.”)

Please Note: To see a Diagram of the Doctrine of Christ, please click on the first link below.  To see a PowerPoint Presentation, please click on the second link below.

Click HERE to see a Diagram of the Doctrine of Christ.

Click HERE to open The Doctrine of Christ PowerPoint Presentation on your computer.  When the program opens, click on the “Present” button in the Upper Right corner of the PowerPoint screen to view and start the presentation.  Click anywhere on the active screen to advance the presentation slides.  (When finished, click the “Esc” key on your keyboard to close the presentation …and, click on the “x” in the PowerPoint “The Doctrine of Christ” tab to cl0se the program and return to this page.)

Click HERE to read an excerpt of the Lectures on Faith page.

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Receiving Answers to our Prayers

Note to the Readers This post is written as a compliment to a previous post I have written: “A Pattern for Praying unto the Father.” In that post, I describe a personal spiritual event around the death of my wife that taught me an important lesson concerning my relationship with God and the importance of prayer. I learned that God knew us (my family and me) and He trusted me, despite my failings. Frankly, I was looking for more, but I learned that He was always there, and I had enough information to move on in Faith. Also, in that previous blog, I provided a bit more details about my actual prayer routines. It contains a simplified explanation (my thoughts, my behavior, the when, the where, and the how of my prayer patterns). These are honest insights I have learned regarding sensitive and spiritual matters.  I treasure and hold them very close to my heart.  They are shared here with humility and gratitude.  As you read this post, I hope you will do so with the same spirit it was written and shared.

Our kind and loving Heavenly Father can and does answer our sincere, humble prayers. The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.” (D&C 112:10)

However, for many of us, we may not readily hear the voice of the Lord, nor recognize the workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The process of engaging in personal prayer and communicating with our Eternal Heavenly Father is a natural but learned skill that improves over time. Often, we learn this skill as a child at the knee of our Mother and/or Father. But sometimes this skill is learned later in life. Regardless, it is never too late to begin. Our Heavenly Father has asked that we pray regularly to Him.

The scriptures teach us to “trust in the Lord with all thine heart; …acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The Big Picture

God loves us, He knows us, and He desires that we pray often to Him. He hears us, and under the right conditions, He will answer our sincere prayers!  In this post, I would like to explain and share insights about praying and answers to personal prayers.

With a few exceptions, it is almost always best to come prepared for our personal prayers with God.  Rarely should we rush into and/or through our prayers.  If circumstances permit, it is wise to set aside a regular times and a regular place for our daily prayers. Doing so will help us focus.  Before we begin our prayers, we should think seriously about who it is we will be speaking to.  Prepare yourself to speak to God!  Try to visualize Him in your mind.  Think about Him and maybe pause for a bit to contemplate.  When you feel ready, begin your prayer. Speak honestly, openly, and respectfully from your heart to your Heavenly Father.

In our personal prayers to Heavenly Father, we should strive to honestly open our hearts and minds to Him.  And, we should ask and seek for guidance from the Holy Ghost.  Humbly talk to Heavenly Father and express your most urgent and sincere concerns and desires.

Typical Prayer Structure

Usually, we should start our prayers by addressing Heavenly Father by any one of His Holy names (e.g., Dear Heavenly Father).  Be humble and sincere!  He is God, and He loves you!  Then, we may express …for example:

    • Our love for Him,
    • Thank Him for your “blessings” (and for His Love for you),
    • Ask that you may be inspired and guided in your prayer and in your life by the Holy Ghost (the Holy Spirit of Truth),
    • If necessary, ask for forgiveness of personal transgressions…be sincere,
    • Ask that He may bless others in need (perhaps be specific),
    • Ask for things we may need or want help with (difficulties or challenges),
    • Pray for spiritual and temporal guidance, mercy, peace, health, patience, kindness, success, etc..

When you finish, close humbly in the Sacred Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Morning prayers are typically different from evening prayers.  In the mornings, we may want to include something about our plans for the day, and beyond. In the evenings, we may want to report, or give an accounting of our day.  In all our prayers, we should approach the Father with a humble heart.  This is always important, but especially if we are seeking answers to our prayers.

After you conclude your prayers, do not just get up and rush away.  Take some time to think, contemplate, and ponder or meditate upon what you have just done and to whom you have just been speaking to.

The Mission of the Holy Ghost

Before and during all our prayers, we should always seek to receive divine guidance from the Holy Ghost.  He is the third member of the Godhead.  He is a God and we should seek His influence and guidance.  Unlike the Father and the Son, the Holy Ghost is a Spirit being (a Holy Spirit), currently without a physical body.  As a Spirit being, He is able to function and perform His many spiritual duties.  He also has many titles, each of which suggest a divine missions.  The Holy Ghost is called the Comforter, the Revelator, the Testator, the Holy Spirit of Truth, the Sanctifier, and more.  His primary mission is to bear true testimony of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  Pure light and knowledge from the Father and the Son is revealed and confirmed to us by the Holy Ghost.  He inspires, reveals, sanctifies, ratifies, and confirms all light and truth.  He is the messenger of Truth and Testifies of the Father and the Son.  So, it is urgent that we are spiritually in tune with the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost (aka the Holy Spirit) should be one of our best friends.  Is the Holy Ghost a good friend?  Yes, He is a very good Friend, and it would be wise to make Him a Best Friend!

So, why is it Important to seek guidance from the Holy Ghost?

If we desire pure knowledge and enlightenment from our God, we must seek to be worthy of the companionship and influence of the third member of the Godhead: the Holy Ghost (aka the Holy Spirit).  Our Heavenly Father loves us …much more than we truly know.  We are all His children, spiritually begotten of Him in our Pre-existent life.  In the Holy Scriptures, we read that we are His “…work and …glory “ (Moses 1:39).  He knows that in this life, we will have challenges and we will at times make mistakes.  But He expects us to strive to overcome our worldly natures and weaknesses.  He asks that we repent of our transgressions and “Come Unto His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ!”  Yes, we are human, but He desires that we strive to follow the teachings and examples of His Only Begotten Son (in the Flesh), Jesus the Christ.  Our Heavenly Father desires that if, for whatever reason, we are unworthy of the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, out of necessity He must withdraw from us.  However, if we are striving to be worthy, and if we turn to our Heavenly Father in humble prayer, the answers we seek will likely come to us …and, probably by way of inspiration (revelation) from the Holy Spirit. And, if we are faithful and in tune with the Holy Spirit, we will more likely recognize ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­the answers to our prayers when they come. Sadly, if we turn away from God and remain unworthy of the companionship of the Holy Spirit, He must necessarily withdraw, and we will be left on our own without His spiritual influence.

The Holy Ghost is our primary and best source for “light and truth.”  Plus, He has a vast spiritual wireless network that is all around us and has unlimited range and bandwidth.  His network is always UP and has an excellent signal.  However, to access the network, we must have “the right login credentials.”  Those credentials include: worthiness, spiritual preparation, humility, and a desire to know the will of God.  And, of course, our personal receiver must be turned ON!  Also, it would be wise for us to “Friend Him” and always stay in contact.

Can or should we realistically expect to receive influence from the Holy Ghost?  Yes, if we are worthy of his influence, and/or in serious need for his help and guidance.  He may inspire and strengthen us in need, but if we are unworthy, his influence will be limited and will not remain with us.  When we are carnal, devilish, generally unworthy, or just not living in accordance with our personal understanding of God’s will, we restrict or block our connection with the Holy Ghost, and His influence by necessity must withdraw.

Answers to our Humble Prayers

Answers to our sincere prayers may come in various forms. They may come to our minds “as we pray.”  Other times, the answers may come at an appropriate time later, but as a direct response to our prayer. These are not uncommon to the faithful. In addition, they often come as a feeling or confirmation of what is true.  Answer may also come as a simple sense of “all is well,” or, “…all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16). Often the answers we seek may come gradually over time and by faith.  At times, they may even be unclear to us or hidden because of the distractions and/or the cares of a busy life.  These may go unrecognized or unheard.  Regardless, Heavenly Father knows who we are, and He loves us.  It is so important that we remember to slow down a bit and be still enough to hear Him.

An Important Point

During those times when we receive an answer to our prayers, or felt the influence of the Holy Spirit (when we are in tune with the Holy Spirit and enlightened), how should we react?  In addition to being alert and responding positively to the insight, we would also be wise to record and document each of our experiences for future reference. Treasure these memories and keep your detailed record of the event and circumstances.  When additional spiritual events occur (and hopefully they will), be sure to also record them and the relevant circumstances. Then, frequently compare your notes about the events.  What were you doing? What were the circumstances? Where were you? What were your thoughts? How did you feel? How were the events similar? Do you see a pattern?  Overtime, and with a record of many faithful experiences, we will learn and improve our ability to hear, recognize, and understand the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is because the promptings or whisperings of the Holy Spirit will be more familiar to us and hence, more recognizable. As we do this, we will develop a greater sense of the workings of the Holy Spirit. And it will help us be more open to revelation and inspiration.

Concerning the importance and role of the Revelator (the Holy Ghost), President Russell M. Nelson has taught: “If you have not yet sought for the ministering of the Holy Ghost to help you hear what the Lord would have you hear, I invite you to do so now.” (Liahona Magazine, November 2021, pg 6)

Important Reminder

In our desire to receive answers to our prayers, we must live a life worthy of the constant companionship and influence of the Holy Spirit (AKA the Revelator, the Comforter, and the Sanctifier). His inspiring influence is a gift, but if our life is not spiritually in order, the Holy Spirit must withdraw.  (Note: Sadly, if our personal behaviors are contrary or offensive to the mind and will of God, out of necessity the Holy Spirit will withdraw from us and we will be left on our own, without His guiding influence. Our spiritual progression will likely cease until we repent and realign ourselves with Him.)

In Summary

We should continue our regular and sincere daily prayers to our loving and kind Heavenly Father. Of course, we should always pray from the heart and voice those things that weigh heavily on our minds. But more than just asking the Father for what we want, let us prepare ourselves spiritually beforehand, and let us always seek to know what He wants us to become, or to be, or to do! Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us. There is much work and service available that needs to be done. And there is probably much we can do to simply prepare ourselves for what Heavenly Father has in store for us to do.

Heavenly Father has not left us alone in this world.  As He has said, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)  He will guide us, and He will answer our humble prayers.  Spiritual guidance is available from our Heavenly Father, and we need it!  He will not abandon us. Never forget: He knows better than we do what we can or should be doing. Trust Him! He loves us and He wants to provide guidance. Have faith that He will guide our thoughts, our footsteps, and our actions. If we follow His guidance, we will become the person He wants us to be!

Click HERE to Read A Pattern for Praying Unto the Father

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Become the person He wants you to be!

We are all children of a loving Heavenly Father. We lived with Him in our pre-mortal life as spirits children.  He is literally the Father of our spirits. We are all spiritually begotten of Him.  We are His spirit offspring.  He knows us and loves us (D&C 6:16). In His wise purposes, we have been placed here on this Earth.  He has a plan for us that will prepare us to follow Him and eventually return to Him as resurrected glorified beings.

As part of God’s creation and plan, I believe He has something specific in mind for each one of us (His Children).  In His plan, God wants us to become what He wants us to be (something He wants us to do, or something we should do, or be doing). These could be things we need to do for His Kingdom, for ourselves … or, for others. Always remember, we are children of a loving Heavenly Father, and He knows what’s best for us. He knows our potential. We should seek Him out and learn what He sees in us and “who” we should be, and/or who we should become!

Without Heavenly Father in our lives, we will not clearly understand nor fully know:

1) Who we truly are,
2) What He wants us to do, nor
3) Who He wants us to become.

With Heavenly Father in our lives, we can come to know these things. We will be open to spiritual influences; we will sense the promptings of the Holy Spirit; and we will heed those promptings.

As we do these, we will find we are on the path (or, a path) He has planned for us. If we are sincere and earnestly seeking, He will guide us in our preparation and help us along the path He wants us to be on. Eventually, if we remain true and faithful to Him, and stay on the path, He will lead us by the influence of the Holy Spirit (the 3rd Member of the Godhead), and we will become the people (the person) He wants us to be. Initially, we may not understand nor be prepared for what God has in store for us, but He does have a plan, and His influence will guide us along the way. “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)

This process of “becoming what He wants us to be” has a simple pattern we can learn and apply.  Heavenly Father wants us to pray to Him, talk with Him, “Hear Him,” and become what He wants us to become and be.  The pattern is essentially The Doctrine of Christ as taught by Jesus Christ Himself, the beloved Son of God the Father. According to the Savior, the Doctrine of Christ “…is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto Me” (3 Nephi 11:32). It looks something like the following:

      • We receive “an idea” that is true concerning Jesus the Christ. For example: “Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the World.”
      • We exercise Faith in this “true idea” about Jesus the Christ.
      • We desire to follow Him and be like Him, so we Repent of our personal sins/transgressions and seek forgiveness (to be like Christ).
      • Ultimately, we desire to make a covenant with God the Father, and we are Baptized to be “Born Again” in Christ.
      • We receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost (the Revelator and Comforter), who will guide us and testify of Christ!  And,
      • We strive to follow Jesus Christ and be like Him!  And this we continue to do …and, “Endure in Righteousness to the End.” (Click on this link to learn more about “Enduring in Righteousness.”)

Faithfully following “the Doctrine of Christ” will gradually sanctify and prepare us for what the Father wants us to become.  It will also prepare us for Exaltation and Eternal Life with our Heavenly Father. (See 2 Nephi 31; 3 Nephi 11; 3 Nephi 15:9; D&C 76:50-70; and 2 John 1:9.)

Following this pattern requires that we learn early on how to pray in humility to our Heavenly Father.  Faithfully following the Doctrine of Christ will prepare us to be worthy of the constant companionship and influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  (The Holy Spirit is the third member of Godhead.  He is also referred to by other titles: the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the Revelator, and the Sanctifier.)  He will testify to us of Jesus Christ and enlighten our understanding.  “Humble and sincere prayers to our Heavenly Father” and “receiving the companionship and guiding influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives” are essential to our becoming what Heavenly Father wants us to be.  Positive steps toward that objective may include:

      • Striving to be humble in our behavior. (see Alma 13:13-14, 28-29; Ether 12:27; D&C 104:23, 82; and D&C 112:10)
      • Prayerfully studying, praying, obeying, and learning more about Jesus Christ (His character, perfections, and attributes) and the Holy Spirit. (see D&C 9:8; D&C 88:118)
      • Attempting to pattern our life after the teachings and examples of Jesus the Christ. (see JST Matthew 26:25; 2 Nephi 31:12; 3 Nephi 27:21)
      • Learning to listen for, and recognize more clearly, the promptings of the Holy Spirit. (3 Nephi 28:11; Moroni 10:4-5)
      • Responding positively to any promptings or impressions we may receive from the Holy Spirit.
      • Recording our spiritual experiences and impressions. Comparing similarities between each event.
      • Remembering these experiences and allowing them to strengthen our testimonies.

And, we should add to these steps three important personal behaviors that will fuel this process: 1) a greater study of the Holy Scriptures and of the truth, 2) more effective personal prayers, and 3) faithful obedience to the truth we learn along the way.  These final three steps (Study, Pray, and Obey) provide the fuel to feed the mind and inspire growth along the Covenant Path.

Note: The more we learn of Jesus Christ (our Savior and Redeemer, the Beloved Son of God), including His true character, perfections, and attributes, the greater our faith in Him can become.  True knowledge of Jesus Christ and Faith in Him are inseparable.  We cannot have true faith in Jesus Christ if what we know of Him is not true.  We can only have faith in Christ if what we know of Him is the Truth.  And, the greater knowledge we have Him (that is true), the greater material we will have upon which to exercise Faith in Him.  Then, as we 1) act on and faithfully strive to follow the true Savior and His Doctrine, we will 2) enjoy an increased influence of the Holy Spirit (the Revelator) in our lives, and we will 3) more readily receive additional knowledge and insight (truth) of God and Christ through the increasing influence of the Holy Spirit. As we follow this pattern, we will increase in our true understanding of who Jesus Christ really is (beyond just “an idea”) and our faith in Him will grow …eventually, unto Eternal Life.

If we follow the pattern and example of Jesus Christ, overtime our sensitivity to the influence of the Holy Spirit will increase.  Frankly, the constant influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives is a critical element in our Heavenly Father’s great Plan of Happiness. As President Russell M. Nelson has recently warned, “…in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation.”

Important Point: In our desire to improve ourselves and become the person God the Father wants us to be, we must live a life worthy of the constant companionship and influence of the Holy Spirit (AKA the Sanctifier). The Holy Spirit will guide us on the path that leads to what our Heavenly Father wants us to become, or to be the person He wants us to be in this life and in Eternity. We must follow the Savior, seek spiritual guidance, listen for promptings from the Holy Spirit, and then respond positively to His influence. (Note: Sadly, if our personal behaviors are contrary or offensive to the mind and will of God, out of necessity the Holy Spirit will withdraw from us and we will be left on our own, without His guiding influence. Our spiritual progression will likely cease until we repent and realign ourselves with Him.)

In summary, we should continue our regular and sincere daily prayers to our loving and kind Heavenly Father. Of course, we should always pray from the heart and voice those things that weigh on our minds. But more than just asking the Father for what we want, let us prepare ourselves spiritually beforehand, and let us always seek to know what He wants us to become, or to be, or to do! Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us. Pray to the Father and ask Him specifically, “Heavenly Father, please guide me to be prepared and to be the person thou would have me to be.”

There is much work and service available that needs to be done. And there is probably much we can do to simply prepare ourselves for what Heavenly Father has in store for us to do. Never forget: He knows better than we do what we can or should be doing. Trust Him! He loves us and He wants to provide guidance. Have faith that He will guide our thoughts, our footsteps, and our actions. If we follow His guidance, we will become the person God wants us to be!

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Looking Back on 2020-2022

As we struggle to move away from the difficult and challenging events of the past two years, I wanted to take this opportunity to express myself in writing.  These past years have certainly been a difficult and challenging time.  We have all shared many common and sometimes unique experiences and feelings.  Many among us have suffered much, some much more than others.  So, I felt I needed to share some personal thoughts and opinions surrounding this very unusual time.  For the record, these are just my own personal observations and opinions.  I am not an ecclesiastical leader, nor am I a person of authority.  I am not trying to impose my opinions; I am trying to express my observations and thoughts.  I am just a man with a computer and a viewpoint.

First let me say, I am a proud citizen of the United States of America.  I love my country. I support the rule of law, the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights.  I strive to honor and support our National and Local leaders.  And I vote my conscience!

I am also a retired military officer.  It was my privilege to serve in the United States Air Force from 1968 through 1994.  On the day of my commissioning, I solemnly swore an oath to my God and my Country.  I have not forgotten that oath, and it has no expiration date.  In essence, I made the following oath: “…I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, Foreign and domestic, …I bear true faith and allegiance to the same; …I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and …I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

While on active duty, I lived and served in various locations around the World.  I am a Vietnam War Veteran (like so many other brave veterans, my eyes have seen and taken mental pictures my brain cannot forget).  After Vietnam, I served as a U.S. Air Force Intelligence Specialist.  Later, I received advanced training as a Military Foreign Affairs Officer (FAO).  My primary area of responsibility (my AOR) was the Middle East Area.  My duties included serving as a regional area specialist (analyst, trainer, and area briefing officer).  In that capacity, I also served in many other faraway locations, both peaceful and hostile.  In 1994, I retired honorably from active duty.  I have always been proud to be an American and to wear the uniform of the United States Air Force (USAF).

However, some of the national events these past two years (2020-2021) in our country have caused me to worry a bit about our future.  America is still the greatest country in the World, “a Promised Land,” and “a beacon on the hill.”  Along with millions of other Americans, I still “acknowledge the providence of Almighty God” on America, the country and home I love.  I still have Hope, but I am concerned about some of the events I have witnessed recently in our nation.  That said, I now want to express some of my thoughts and feelings about what concerns me most and a little about how I am dealing with these disturbing events.

This has been an unusual and at timed disturbing period in our history!  The time has been dominated by a worldwide pandemic …caused and spread by foreign adversaries.  It has prematurely claimed the lives of many thousands of American citizens, nearly shut down our national economy, and caused the imposition of national and statewide “social distancing.” Our regular and essential social activities (e.g., traveling, visiting, mingling, dining out, attending religious services, celebrating the Holidays, etc.) have been limited, and in some cases, prohibited.  And, we have watched (and sometimes experienced) increased social unrest, violent protests, looting, and rioting (racial and political) in major cities across America.  These are apparent attacks on the nation our Founding Fathers envisioned and established.  And clearly, they are attacks on our most cherished beliefs and principles of freedom.  Sadly, these issues have not been resolved yet.

Also, there have been hate-filled and divisive National Political elections and transitions of leadership. In contrast, we would like to have seen more civil and constructive dialog between the political parties and candidates as we seek “honest and dependable candidates who would uphold and defend the Constitution.”  Sadly, that has not been the case.  Instead, we have witnessed a climate of social and political unrest, including strident and hateful political dialog in our country.  There has clearly been a breakdown in civility and an exhausting struggle between the major political parties, both national and statewide.  They have become polarized, antagonistic, and unwilling to compromise.  In addition, we have learned, there has been an apparent effort to undermine our otherwise reliable and trusted voting and election process.  This includes overwhelming evidence of severe and illegal voter fraud, ballot harvesting, widespread ballot manipulation, and now, an effort to change/corrupt our voting laws to favor one side or another.  Clearly, some political party members and players are cheating!  And it has become difficult to identify positive, meaningful, and noble campaign efforts.

With all that we see going on in politics, I also see another serious problem.  Many of our major news outlets, which should provide honest, fair, and objective coverage, have taken sides in the ongoing electoral process and are providing grossly partisan propaganda.  Many so-called news agencies have abandoned real news in favor of and supporting a radical anti-American agenda.  It is apparent, we can no longer rely on the traditional mainstream news outlets (print and broadcast news) to gather and present truthful and fair political coverage.  Their dishonesty is a betrayal of their professional duty.  I know many thousands of U.S. citizens feel as I do.  (Frankly, there are a few honest news outlets still available.  We just need to look hard to find them.)

These past two years have been unlike any year I have ever witnessed.  And I suspect these developments (the pandemic, the rioting and violence, the hateful political dialog, the apparent voter fraud, and the “fake news”) are all somehow related and probably orchestrated.  Combined, they have created an atmosphere of “Great Tribulation” in America.  These conditions have been troubling to me.  They undermine the strength of our great nation.  And I fear they are the seeds of anarchy in this promised land of peace!

However, despite these disturbing developments, I still have Hope for a glorious future in America.  I am still striving to stay calm and will continue to obey the rule of law.  I continue to pray regularly to my God for blessings upon our great nation, the United States of America.  I trust in God, and because of my faith in Jesus Christ, I have Hope.  But I believe I should also be prepared.  I must be prepared!  (I confess I have considered buying a firearm to protect my home and family.  I believe that is my duty!)  I am grateful for a true and living Prophet on the earth today.  I trust our Prophet and all the Brethren who serve with him!  I sincerely pray for their good health and their continued and inspired leadership as they guide the Lord’s Church in these “times of tribulation.”  I strive to align myself with the Prophet and the Brethren and follow their counsel.  And I continue to seek and listen for inspiration, guidance, and reassurance from the Holy Spirit of God.

So, what more can I, or should I, be doing?  (What should we be doing?) Indeed, we must support national and local efforts to mitigate and control the national COVID-19 pandemic.  We must respect and honor our national and civic duties.  But we must also take a stand against anarchy. When and where possible, we must expose the lies, defend the truth, and support local and national law enforcement.  We should also respect and defend the inspired Constitution of the United States and support and honor the Bill of Rights.  We should never allow others to censor or silence our Freedom of Speech nor our right to peaceful assembly.  Where possible, we should stand up and fight back against their censorship.  And we should always speak the truth.

On a very personal level, I firmly believe we should also be prepared spiritually (we should keep our lamps trimmed)!  Find time to prayerfully study and ponder the Holy Scriptures.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide us.  Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ!  Learn of Him!  “Be still …and know that He is God!” (Psalm 46:10 and D&C 101:16) Remain true and faithful to Him!  And serve others in need!

Finally, despite these past years of much tribulation, I am still healthy and comfortable at home.  As I write this, I am 75 years old, I am still retired, and I still have my “hobbies.”  I live in a great place.  I love my wife and my  family, and I have good neighbors.  Although my confidence in the peace and safety of this great nation has been challenged, I still have Hope for America.  I am confident America will survive.  I still love and trust the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Redeemer, the God of Heaven and Earth!  He is the Holy One of Israel (2 Nephi 27:30). I am thankful for His love, kindness, and mercy.  Because of Him, I have Hope for the future!

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The True Story of the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving

First, click HERE and listen to the inspiring comments of Ben Domenech (a Fox News contributor).  Ben highlights some of the original Pilgrim experiences and reminds us to always be thankful to our God for our many blessings.  (After listening to Ben’s comments, please click on the (x) in the webpage tab at the top of the page.  This will close his video return you to this page.)

Now read…
The inspiring True Story of Thanksgiving as written by:

Rush Limbaugh.

The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century. The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. The first Pilgrims were Christian rebels.  Those who challenged [King James’] ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs in England in the 1600s.

A group of separatists, Christians who did not want to buy into the Church of England or live under the rule of King James, first fled to Holland and established a community of themselves there.  After eleven years, about forty of them, having heard about this New World Christopher Columbus had discovered, decided to go.  Forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where [they knew] they would certainly face hardships.  But the reason they did it was so they could “live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences” and beliefs.

On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried 102 passengers, including forty, now known as Pilgrims, led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract that established how they would live once they arrived. The contract set forth “just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs,” or political beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from?  They came from the Bible.

The Pilgrims were a devoutly religious people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example. And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, “they never doubted that their experiment would work.” They believed in God. They believed they were in the hands of God. As you know, this was no pleasure cruise. The journey to the New World on the tiny (by today’s standards) sailing ship was long and arduous.

There was sickness. There was seasickness. And it was wet.  It was the opposite of anything you think of today as a cruise on the open ocean. When they “landed in New England in November, they found,” according to Bradford’s detailed journal, “a cold, barren, desolate wilderness.” There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves.  There was nothing.

The sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims — including Bradford’s own wife — died of either starvation, sickness, or exposure. They endured that first winter.  When spring finally came, they had, by that time, met the indigenous people, the Indians, and indeed the “Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers” and other animals “for coats.”  But, there wasn’t any prosperity.  They did not yet prosper!  They were still dependent. They were still confused. They were still in a new place, essentially alone among like-minded people.

This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than what it really was.  That happened, do not misunderstand.  That all happened, but that is not — according to William Bradford’s journal — why they ultimately gave thanks. Here is the part that has been omitted: the original contract that they made on the Mayflower as they were traveling to the New World.  They had to enter that contract “with their merchant-sponsors in London” because they had no money on their own. They needed sponsors. They found merchants in London to sponsor them. The merchants in London made an investment.  As such, the Pilgrims agreed that “everything they produced to go into a common store,” or common account, “and each member of the community was entitled to one common share” in this bank. Out of this, the merchants in London would be repaid until they were paid off.

All the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. Everything belonged to everybody, and everybody had one share in it. They were going to distribute it equally.  That was considered to be the epitome of fairness, sharing the hardship burdens and everything like that.  Nobody owned anything.  It was a commune.  It was the forerunner to the communes we saw in the 1960s and 1970s out in California and other parts of the country, and it was complete with organic vegetables, by the way.

Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that the commune system was not working.  It “was as costly and destructive….” His own journals chronicle the reasons it did not work.  To fix this, Bradford “assigned a plot of land… to each family to work and manage,” as their own. He got rid of the whole commune structure and “assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage,” and whatever they made, however much they made, was theirs. They could sell it; they could share it, or they could keep it.  Whatever they wanted to do.

What really happened is they “turned loose” the power of a free market after enduring months and months of hardship — first on the Mayflower, then getting settled, and then the failure of the common account from which everybody got the same share. There was no incentive for anybody to do anything.  And as is human nature, some of the Pilgrims were a bunch of lazy twerps, and others busted their rear ends. But it did not matter because even the people that were not very industrious got the same as everyone else. Bradford wrote about how the whole commune structure just was not working.

What Bradford and his community found in the commune system, and I’m going to use basically his own words, “was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else.”  While most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years — trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it — William Bradford and the Pilgrims decided early on to “scrap it permanently,” because it brought out the worst in human nature, it emphasized laziness, it created resentment.

In every group of people, you have got your self-starters.  You have your hard workers and your industrious people, and you have your lazy twerps and so forth, and in the communal system, there was no difference at the end of the day. For the Pilgrims, the resentment sprang up on both sides. So, Bradford wrote about this. “For this community, it was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.  For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense,” without any payment.  That was thought injustice.” Why should you work for other people when you cannot work for yourself?  What is the point? … The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive.

So, what did Bradford’s community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result?  “This had very good success,” wrote Bradford, “for it made all hands [everybody] industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”

In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves. Now, this is where it gets really good if you’re laboring under the misconception that I was (as I was taught in school).  So, they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians.  And the profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London.

Additionally, the Plymouth settlement’s success and prosperity attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the ‘Great Puritan Migration.’ The word of the success of the free enterprise Plymouth Colony spread like wildfire; and that began the great migration. Everybody wanted a part of it. There was no mass slaughtering of the Indians; there was no wiping out of the indigenous people.  Eventually (according to William Bradford’s own journal), it unleashed the industriousness of all hands and ended up producing more than they could ever need themselves.

So, trading posts began selling and exchanging things with the Indians — and the Indians, by the way, were very helpful.  Puritan kids had relationships with the children of the Native Americans that they found. This killing of the indigenous people that is talked about occurred much, much, much, much later. And, it had nothing to do with the first Thanksgiving.

The first Thanksgiving was William Bradford and the Plymouth Colony thanking God for their blessings. That was the first Thanksgiving.  And there is nothing wrong with being grateful to the Indians.  But the true meaning of Thanksgiving was thanking God for their blessings — and this is what George Washington recognized in his first Thanksgiving Proclamation.

Click HERE to read the Thanksgiving Proclamation from President George Washington.

Click HERE to listen again to the inspiring comments of Ben Domenech as he discusses the original Pilgrim experience and the importance of Thanksgiving.

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