Thoughts from My Personal Journal

THOUGHT: October 9, 2019

From the beginning, Satan has taught men and women to hide their sins from God. That will not work. He already knows all about each and every one of our sins, and we must confess our sins to him if we expect to find joy in our lives.

THOUGHT: October 14, 2019

Repentance is simply improving.

THOUGHT: October 15, 2019

I have found that when I focus on Christ and family, everything else seems to take care of itself.

THOUGHT: October 16, 2019

The religiously overzealous believe that praying and studying the scriptures constitute a righteous religious life. Prayer and scripture study are but the means to an end. They in themselves are not the ultimate object of our worship. Because they are informative and motivational, they are an important part of the means by which we can live a life filled with joy, peace, and happiness. It is the active joyous life which is the end we seek. We must get off our knees and out of the books to live and experience a life of service, self-fulfillment, and joy.

THOUGHT: October 17, 2019

Repentance, change, improvement, and transformation are all interconnected and interrelated.

THOUGHT: October 18, 2019

The principle of repentance involves a daily positive course correction.

THOUGHT: October 22, 2019

You are not ready for godhood unless you are willing and able to allow your unbelieving and wayward children their full and complete agency.

THOUGHT: October 23, 2019

The Lord talks to us through his General Conferences. It is not so much exactly what the speaker says, which we soon forget. It is the feelings, individualized promptings, and customized direction we receive while listening to the speakers.

THOUGHT: October 24, 2019

The words of Christ are the bread of life. We eat the bread by living in accordance with His words.

THOUGHT: October 27, 2019

God seeks to share his power. The natural man seeks to selfishly hold on to all the power he can accumulate.

THOUGHT: October 28, 2019

The blood of Christ, representative of his sufferings, is our cleansing agent. We wash ourselves with his blood when we repent and cheerfully keep His commandments, no matter the suffering that may come our way for doing so. Truth of the matter is, I have personally suffered very little for keeping His commandments. I was blessed to be born and reared in a Christian nation that supported a Christian lifestyle, holding it up as the proper standard. There are those in other nations who have not enjoyed that luxury for which I am grateful.

THOUGHT: October 30, 2019

If there were no evil, we would never be able to choose between good and evil. If we were never able to choose between good and evil, our personal development would be totally thwarted. Mindless robots could live in a world without choices.

THOUGHT: November 4, 2019

The Lord well knows how to magnify our meager efforts to serve others, but we must give him an effort with which to work.

THOUGHT: November 5, 2019

True Christ-like service is without any idea, feeling, motive, or sense of self-service.

THOUGHT: November 20, 2019

We are not being greedy when we pray for the right kind of miracles in our lives.

THOUGHT: November 24, 2019

I’d say there are very few people who know Jesus as well as they think they know Jesus.

THOUGHT: November 25, 2019

The best inspiration for teaching my class at church comes when I am doing my own personal scripture study at home.

THOUGHT: November 26, 2019

Seeing and hearing an angel speak to us personally does not guarantee our continued faithfulness. Just take a look at Oliver, Martin, and David.

THOUGHT: November 27, 2019

Christ can help me turn a personal wrong I have committed into a personal strength.

THOUGHT: December 1, 2019

Merely being an active member of the Church does not save us. Taking advantage of the Savior’s atonement is what saves us.

THOUGHT: December 6, 2019

The importance of baptism cannot be over-estimated.

THOUGHT: December 8, 2019

I do not believe we can love our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ too much.

THOUGHT: December 11, 2019

I have my doubts that God feels a need to get in a hurry about anything. I have my doubts that he would ever panic in any situation. I suspect he leads a very peaceful life.

THOUGHT: December 12, 2019

Some people blame their bad conduct on keeping the wrong company. The best company for me to keep is the company of the Holy Ghost. With Him, I am never lonely, and He keeps me out of trouble.

THOUGHT: December 15, 2019

We need both faith and works. Saying we need only one and not the other is like saying we need offense and not defense in football (or vice-versa), or saying we need hitting and not pitching in baseball (or vice-versa).

THOUGHT: December 25, 2019

If we celebrate in the right way, we cannot over-celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

THOUGHT: December 28, 2019

To believe the restored gospel is a great blessing. To be called to teach the restored gospel is an even greater blessing.

THOUGHT: December 29, 2019

The Church is perfectly designed to provide opportunities to serve others.

THOUGHT: December 30, 2019

Our service to others helps us to better understand Christ’s service to us.

THOUGHT: January 6, 2020

The Savior is our best comforter in the bad times and our best cheerleader in the good times.

THOUGHT: January 18, 2020

In the Church, we understand the principle of grace, but we don’t overemphasize it at the expense of accountability.

THOUGHT: January 21, 2020

Feeling a fullness of peace in our life comes from living the plan of happiness—meaning the gospel of Jesus Christ.

THOUGHT: January 26, 2020

Discover what Jesus would have you do, then make the changes required and do it.

THOUGHT: January 30, 2020

In every moment of our life, we are either preparing to meet God or not preparing to meet God.

THOUGHT: February 1, 2020

On a clear summer night, as you gaze into a spectacular star-studded sky, do you have the faith to believe that you have the potential at some future time to be a part of organizing such a scene? That is exactly what God wants for you, his child, and He will do His part to bring it to pass. If you feel that such a thought is blasphemous heresy, then God thinks more of you than you think of yourself.

THOUGHT: February 2, 2020

Danny Carpenter told me last Sunday that he was disinvited from an invitation to speak to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes down in Atmore after the organization realized he was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was the organization’s loss. As we continue, like Danny, to look like, sound like, and act like genuine followers of Christ, things will change for the better.

THOUGHT: February 5, 2020

As missionaries in their field of labor, young men change for the better and this empowers them to help others change themselves for the better.

THOUGHT: February 7, 2020

How we serve trumps where we serve.

THOUGHT: February 8, 2020

If we look with our spiritual eyes, we will discern the Lord’s influence in our life all the day long.

THOUGHT: February 9, 2020

All it takes is a simple sincere personal prayer to bring the comfort of God. He can put things in their proper perspective for me quicker than anyone or anything.

THOUGHT: February 10, 2020

Continual daily repentance, but not of the same sin over and over, is the key to personal improvement.

THOUGHT: February 11, 2020

God knows what I need better than I know what I need.

THOUGHT: February 16, 2020

Jesus Christ is the only person in existence whose pre-mortal life has been revealed, and whose birth, life, ministering acts of miracles, atoning sacrifice, death, and resurrection were all prophesied by many prophets both thousands and hundreds of years before He was born into mortality. That makes pure Christianity unique amongst all of the religions of the world, and that’s the least that can be said.

THOUGHT: February 17, 2020

Jesus Christ is unique, matchless, and cannot be duplicated. I stand in awe of him in every respect. He is the ultimate superhero in my book.

THOUGHT: February 18, 2020

Repentance is not punishment.

THOUGHT: February 23, 2020

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a greater responsibility than any other people to live the teachings of Christ.

THOUGHT: March 1, 2020

Your spiritual ears can screen out the worldly noises—like the bishop’s children during sacrament meeting.

THOUGHT: March 2, 2020

I look upon that which the Savior did in Gethsemane as having direct personal application to me.

THOUGHT: March 3, 2020

Pride and a rebellious nature are a major stumbling block to repentance.

THOUGHT: March 7, 2020

We hear much about radical Islam. We need to also admit that there are radicals in all religions. There are also radical Christians. They exist today, and I know they have a history as old as the Crusades.

THOUGHT: March 9, 2020

It seems to me that Joseph Smith only had a couple of things going for him in his mortal life—revelation from God and an innate desire to obey Him. He kept his priorities straight and fulfilled his eternal destiny. Each of us needs to seek God’s will for us, and when revealed, have an inherent desire to obey it. That is the simple formula for true success in this life. I wish I had followed it more often.

THOUGHT: March 11, 2020

In the world, inefficiency hardly ever translates into effectiveness or success. But in the Lord’s way of doing things, there is a different law of economics based on personal sacrifice and effort. From the standpoint of a mortal man, it was very economically inefficient for me to haul my backhoe on a small borrowed trailer 15 miles an hour all the way to and from Wiggins, MS, to clean up after Hurricane Katrina—500 miles round trip. But it was effective for me spiritually and effective for the people I served both spiritually and temporally. I am also convinced that I was blessed temporally in indiscernible ways. It is not possible for me to out-give the Lord.

THOUGHT: March 14, 2020

When Moroni appeared to Joseph, either Moroni knew how to speak English or Joseph never mentioned otherwise. It seems that all angels are multi-lingual and can speak perfectly in the language of the recipients of their messages.

THOUGHT: March 15, 2020

President Nelson and the brethren at church headquarters sure were “lucky” to have our “Come Follow Me” gospel/worship centered home program already in place when the coronavirus hit.

THOUGHT: March 18, 2020

I generally always have more questions than I have answers, but I have faith in that which I know.

THOUGHT: March 27, 2020

When it comes to the Final Judgment, I cannot help but believe that the numbers of people that we happened to have influenced, even positively, will weigh much less than the degree to which we were obedient to the commandments of God.

THOUGHT: March 30, 2020

Pondering the atonement of Jesus Christ can and should transform us.

THOUGHT: April 1, 2020

There have been other appearances of God to man, but none of them have been documented as fully as God’s appearance to Joseph Smith. We have much more detail relating to the encounter. We are able to learn much more from Joseph’s unique experience that we call the First Vision. I feel profound gratitude for my being allowed to live in this age.

THOUGHT: April 4, 2020

The First Vision, if carefully studied, gives us more answers than we have questions.

THOUGHT: April 12, 2020

If we only know the cross, conversion is incomplete. We must know Gethsemane.

THOUGHT: April 19, 2020

A full-time mission broadens a man to become a citizen of the world.

THOUGHT: April 25, 2020

One of the major reasons that I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fact that I have a strong belief in the truthfulness of the Bible.

THOUGHT: April 27, 2020

Everyone will be in their own shoes on Judgment Day.

THOUGHT: May 3, 2020

Members of the Church who mostly rely upon simply going to church services once a week as a primary means of obtaining and retaining spirituality place their testimony and salvation at peril. Thus, during this pandemic, when church services are not available, they are either going to develop some better private religious habits, like praying and studying the scriptures, or they are going to die on the vine, or rather disconnect from the vine.

THOUGHT: May 5, 2020

Today is the anniversary of my baptism into the Church. It took place on a Saturday in 1973, 47 years ago. Other than direct divine intervention, I have no explanation for my joining the Church. I owe the entire blessing to God. It was the biggest, most positive game changer I have ever experienced in my life by far. I recommend it to everyone.

THOUGHT: May 7, 2020

Israel is the name God has chosen for his covenant people. Every person of every blood lineage who enters into God’s designated covenants with Him is a part of the House of Israel.

THOUGHT: May 26, 2020

Religious freedom is absolutely essential to our personal joy in life—our hopes, dreams, aspirations, happiness, and well being. We do good when we seek to increase and preserve religious freedom for all. We do badly when we seek to diminish or limit it. We even do badly when we do nothing. We should not count on someone else to do what only we can do because there is no someone else.

THOUGHT: May 27, 2020

Had it not been for the First Vision and its aftermath, the earth would have long ago been destroyed by the Lord. That is my firm belief.

THOUGHT: June 20, 2020

I lovingly embrace hard work as a key element of my religion.

THOUGHT: June 21, 2020

Today I read the scholarly article by Jill Mulvay Derr titled “The Lion and the Lioness,” which chronicled the relationship between Brigham Young and Eliza R. Snow and their harmonious efforts to move the Church forward during difficult pioneering times. I was surprised to learn that Brigham altered Joseph’s instructions to the original Relief Society in order to make it clear that the organization was subservient to priesthood authority and not an independent organization within the Church, the latter being a situation that would have certainly caused undesirable and damaging dissention. Emma’s dissention on plural marriage was no doubt a strong element in Brigham’s decision. But it seems to me that Brigham’s revelation on the subject would have been better presented as a new revelation as opposed to deceitfully changing the wording of a prior prophet. I have no doubt that human frailties creep into the management decisions of the prophets, but they are rare and it does not change my opinion of the truthfulness of the
Book of Mormon or the truthfulness of the Restoration. I have so much human frailty of my own that I am not about to cast stones at others, be they prophets or not. God may work in mysterious ways, but he is still God.

THOUGHT: June 27, 2020

Enough human tears to fill buckets were shed on this date 176 years ago.

THOUGHT: July 1, 2020

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only subject matter of which I have any knowledge that makes total and complete sense to me. It is the only subject matter in which I find no flaws. I am staking my eternal destiny on its truthfulness and I have a complete peace about doing so.

THOUGHT: July 16, 2020

I’ve done some pondering of late. Can God change his mind? Yes, according to the Bible story where He kept lowering the number of righteous people required to save a city. But the bigger question is this: Did God already know he was going to change his mind from the beginning? If He already knew he was going to change his mind, did he truly ever change his mind? I tend to believe that He can actually change his mind. How boring would His existence be if He already knew all there was to know about the future? He would never enjoy the emotion of pleasant surprise. There is certainly nothing unrighteous about changing one’s mind, else women would be in serious trouble on Judgement Day!

THOUGHT: July 19, 2020

No matter how knowledgeable, skilled, or talented you are, learning and living the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will make you more knowledgeable, more skilled, more talented, and happier.

THOUGHT: July 24, 2020

I have definitely experienced disappointment in my life, but it has never caused me to get mad at God. That is a spiritual blessing for which I am grateful.

THOUGHT: July 27, 2020

Repentance is a process in which we should be engaged regularly. Off and on again, especially with the same weaknesses, will not get the job done.

THOUGHT: July 30, 2020

Praying to God is as real as talking to a friend on a cell phone, and even easier. There is no cost, no looking up the number, no dialing, and especially no dropped calls.

THOUGHT: August 21, 2020

When we revile, we become sinners like unto those against whom we revile.

THOUGHT: August 22, 2020

Faith and fanaticism are not the same thing. Fanaticism has no evidence for things hoped for.

THOUGHT: August 23, 2020

When we take up the real cross of Jesus, we find that there are no wheels on the cross to make it easier to carry.

THOUGHT: August 26, 2020

I hear people say: “God has a plan for me.” Of course, that is true, but that statement puts too much of the burden on God. God’s plan for all of us is for each of us to tap into the divine nature within us. He wants us to discover and formulate our own creative plans for ourselves. That approach, which I think is more correct, emphasizes the “me” in that commonly heard statement. I must take responsibility for my own plan. I can count on His help, but I must be the moving agent. He will always do his part, but it is usually the last part

THOUGHT: September 6, 2020

It is a special spiritual gift of high quality to be able to make others feel valued and respected.

THOUGHT: September 11, 2020

We are all prodigals. I desperately yearn to be a forgiven prodigal.

THOUGHT: September 12, 2020

We need to find and enjoy our religion both inside and outside of our dedicated religious spaces and edifices, and perhaps more especially on the outside because that is where we spend the overwhelming majority of our time.

THOUGHT: September 14, 2020

Once Jesus Christ had sacrificed himself unto death, there was no need to sacrifice a single other animal under the law of Moses, for the much anticipated future event—the Messianic atonement that was symbolically portrayed under the Law of Moses, had come to pass. The purpose for the animal sacrifices under the Law of Moses had been perfectly fulfilled and accomplished. Clinging to the Law of Moses thus became an outright, direct denial of the atoning sacrifice that Christ had performed for the sins of mankind.

THOUGHT: September 18, 2020

There are times when the only assistance we are in a position to provide is a sincere prayer. But a sincere prayer is no small thing. It can avail much.

THOUGHT: September 24, 2020

My son Joshua posted a photo on Facebook. The photo portrayed a beautiful, lighted evening sky hovering over a lighted soccer field. He wrote: “This is how I imagine heaven: soccer under the lights on a clear and cool fall evening…forever.” I posted a comment: “I recommend you aim higher. Love, Daddy.”

THOUGHT: August 28, 2020

We are each our own final judge, judging the type of person we are, by the choices that we make.

THOUGHT: October 3, 2020

Watching General Conference causes me to stretch my personal revelation muscles.

THOUGHT: October 6, 202

It is Christ alone who connects Earth to Heaven.

THOUGHT: October 7, 2020

The Lord is always closer than we think.

THOUGHT: October 12, 2020

Revelation from God includes discoveries that come from scientific laboratories. God silently orchestrates all of the preceding events and all of the attending circumstances that allow for discoveries and inventions, in addition to inspiring the minds of the discoverers and inventors. Life makes more sense for us when we confess and acknowledge God’s hand in all things.

THOUGHT: October 14, 2020

I am guilty of the same mistake that my non-member neighbors and friends make. They listen to me only with an intent to change my mind about my religion. That’s the same way that I listen to them. Thus, neither of us ever learns from the other. On the other hand, there is something to balance against that truth.
“Ye are not sent forth to be taught, but to teach.” (D&C 43:15) That quote is a revelation from God. But teaching the way God wants us to teach, with love in our hearts, will almost always involve some listening, too.

THOUGHT: October 15, 2020

I believe one can be a great Christian without being a great churchman. It is a unique blessing to be both.

THOUGHT: October 21, 2020

If you really want to know how to prioritize your life, go to the temple regularly.

THOUGHT: October 31, 2020

Miracles have a formula that we can follow. They are created by a combination of acquired skill, enduring faith, and unconditional love.

THOUGHT: November 8, 2020

If you become a celebrity, then you automatically become an expert in everything, including religion.

THOUGHT: November 10, 2020

We don’t need to get excited about secular sources that confirm our revelations any more than we need to get excited about secular sources that deny our revelations. It is an understatement to say that secular sources are inferior to divine revelation. In other words, simply put, God is smarter than man.

THOUGHT: November 14, 2020

It is quite humbling to know for a surety, as I do, that the Lord is mindful of me.

THOUGHT: November 15, 2020

If I were asked, “What is the most illogical thing you can think of that a man can do?” My response would be puny man contending with God, or trying to counsel God, or rebelling against God, or ignoring the commandments of God.

THOUGHT: November 16, 2020

Almost every time someone who was a friend of Dianne and myself dies, I think of Dianne as sweetly welcoming them into the world of spirits.

THOUGHT: November 20, 2020

I have never seen hope or faith work without work.

THOUGHT: December 1, 2020

Although the restored gospel belongs to the whole world—actually the entire universe for that matter—I am honored to be a part of the most American religion on the planet.

THOUGHT: December 16, 2020

If the importance of a person is determined by the number of people he or she influences in light of the time that such influence will be effective, then Jesus Christ is in His own top category.

THOUGHT: December 18, 2020

Our faith and testimony are never wasted by the Lord. When we prepare ourselves, commensurate opportunities to grow the kingdom will be placed in our path.

THOUGHT: December 20, 2020

Satan wants everyone to be miserable like he is, and misery does indeed love company. In an attempt to validate our own detours into apostasy, we will encourage others to join us in our misguided treks.

THOUGHT: December 26, 2020

As far as my own personal salvation is concerned, heeding the words of our living prophet is of more worth to me than any information I might consider from any other source, most especially his counsel to continuously repent.

THOUGHT: January 1, 2021

If they were mutually exclusive, I would rather be smart as to the things of God and dumb as to the things of the world, as opposed to being smart as to the things of the world and dumb as to the things of God.

THOUGHT: January 2, 2021

An untruth (lie) is the way things were not, the way things are not, and the way things will never be. That is Satan’s primary tool for every evil enticement he sends our way.

THOUGHT: January 3, 2021

God can provide a happy ending to every story.

THOUGHT: January 10, 2021

Singing aloud as a congregation is such an essential part of true worship that omitting the singing as a result of the pandemic has diminished the enjoyment of sacrament meeting significantly.

THOUGHT: January 13, 2021

Don’t wait to know absolutely everything before you will act. Just make sure you know enough to produce a fixed faith in the enterprise, whatever it may be. Follow your heart. Then move forward vigorously with the anticipation of learning more. Your conviction grows as you make progress, and there never is any back-peddling or back-tracking. That is what I have learned from both getting baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and from constructing Overlook Lodge.

THOUGHT: January 14, 2021

We each have a divinely mandated social and moral obligation to help others.

THOUGHT: January 15, 2021

We will not allow fear to hold a resting place within us so long as we firmly hope or firmly believe or firmly know that God is in control and He has our best interest at heart.

THOUGHT: January 18, 2021

Dianne and I did not fight against the enemy at Crooked River or Hawn’s Mill. We were never imprisoned at Liberty Jail or Carthage Jail. We never buried our children in frozen ground at Winter Quarters. We never marched in the Mormon Battalion or crossed the plains in a covered wagon through Indian territory or pulled a handcart through the sand dunes. We never slept in a snowbound dugout or sailed the mighty ocean in a crowded tempest tossed ship. We never chiseled granite from a quarry to build a temple. I don’t think we ever involuntarily slept in the rain or missed a single meal in our entire lives. But we did help with starting a new branch of the Church in the heart of Alabama in the 1970’s, and we did help with starting a new branch of the Church within the shadows of Ankor Wat in Cambodia in the first decade of the current millennium, for whatever that may turn out to be worth.

THOUGHT: January 19, 2021

God gives us problems to solve. Solving problems is an important part of our growth.

THOUGHT: January 25, 2021

We can personally celebrate the atonement of Jesus Christ every day.

THOUGHT: January 28, 2021

Mortality is not a time when God makes all things right. He does not make all things right in the here and now. He did not even protect or shield his only begotten Son from injustice. But the time will come when all things will be made right.

THOUGHT: January 29, 2021

My admiration for Joseph Smith is increased, not decreased, by his human frailties and weaknesses. His humanity makes him real to me. I can relate to him. I am inspired by his example of faith and determination as he confronted and overcame so much opposition and adversity in his life, mostly external but occasionally self-imposed. He was no ambitious empire builder or demanding tyrant. He was simply trying his best to achieve those things God had assigned him to achieve.

THOUGHT: February 5, 2021

When we are judged, I believe that the Lord will have virtually no concern about whether we were a bishop, stake president, apostle, or general relief society president. But He will be extremely concerned about how we treated other people.

THOUGHT: February 12, 2021

Christian “orthodoxy” is totally subjective in its various definitions espoused by competing Christian sects. If “orthodoxy” is actually conformity to the Savior’s doctrinal teachings and church organization as He himself set it up in the meridian of time, then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more “orthodoxy” by far than any other modern Christian organization.

THOUGHT: February 14, 2021

During our honeymoon trip, Robin and I were approached by two senior male missionaries as she and I were strolling in front of the Salt Lake Temple on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. (Their respective wives were proselytizing together elsewhere on Temple Square within sight.) The missionaries learned that Robin and I were just married, and that she was raised and grew up in Salt Lake and that I was born and raised in Alabama. They asked if we were members of the Church, and we responded that only one of us was. The missionaries immediately made an erroneous assumption about my and Robin’s church affiliations which Robin corrected. “No,” she said, “I grew up here but I am not a member of the Mormon Church. I had to go all the way to Alabama to find me a good Mormon boy.” We all had a good laugh.

THOUGHT: February 23, 2021

Do I believe I am worth someone’s dying for me in order to save my life? Fortunately, Christ does.

THOUGHT: February 25, 2021

Here is a question we should regularly ask ourselves: “What does Christ think of me?”

THOUGHT: March 10, 2021

In all of our discussions and conversations with others, we need to remember the Savior. We represent Him, and he would never unkindly belittle or cruelly disrespect another individual.

THOUGHT: March 20, 2021

From what does Christ redeem me? (1) Separation from the Father and the Son and all righteous resurrected family, friends, and associates; (2) separation of my spirit from my physical body, without which there is no fullness of joy; (3) the haunting mental anguish and pain emanating from my unforgiven bad choices, which anguish and pain are like an unquenchable fire in my mind; (4) a finite posterity.

I cannot love my Savior enough.

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