Thursday, January 30, 2014

Joseph's Smith's Kirtland

I purchased a copy of Joseph Smith's Kirtland by Karl Ricks Anderson during the travel study I did in Nauvoo in 2003. During the semester, I had the opportunity to visit Kirtland and hear Brother Anderson speak at a fireside. He also signed my book for me. I read parts of the book during the semester, but now I can say I have read the whole thing cover to cover.

Right at the beginning of the book, the author reminds the reader of the important role Kirtland played in the Church's history. Some of the greatest spiritual manifestations of this dispensation occurred there. Most of the Doctrine and Covenants was received in that area. And yet, it seems that for the most part we rarely think of Kirtland. the purpose of the book is to explore the many elements of the Church's residence in Kirtland.

The author does a great job of sticking to the history of Kirtland and its surrounding cities, and only lightly touches on missionary efforts going on elsewhere, or events happening in Missouri. He explores everything from the highest spiritual manifestations to the lowest pit of apostasy. Anderson fills each chapter with journal entries so that an accurate picture could be painted of what life was like for the early saints.

One of my personal favorite chapters was about the Kirtland Safety Society bank, or anti-bank as it should properly be called. I knew about this whole affair, but I didn't know all the details. The saints did nothing different than what many other institutions were doing. However, there were two main things working against them: the hatred of their enemies, and the lust for quick wealth by those in charge of the bank. These two factors, combined with the economic collapse of 1837 (which effected nearly everybody everywhere) led to the demise of the institution and the trial of fire for many of the saints.

It was so peculiar to me to read about the fall of some of the early leaders. They had experienced such wonderful visions and manifestations, but the love of money polluted them so completely that many of them sunk to the level of murderers. It is a lesson that nobody is safe from apostasy.

The book is very uplifting and certainly strengthens testimony. I highly recommend this book to anybody, but especially those interested in Church History.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

EFY 2002: We Believe

I received the book EFY 2002: We Believe during my second year at EFY. The second year was not as good as the first, but it still holds some nice memories. The coolest part is that I got to go this time with my sister Katy. Anyway, I digress. Onto my favorite discourses in this book.

A significant thing about this is that it was the first EFY after the attacks on September 11th. Several of the speakers mentioned these attacks. Some were trying to comfort the youth who were affected by it. But my favorite discourse that centered around the attacks was by David Buckner. He talked about the importance of remembering. He lived in New York City when the attacks happened and he describes it from his point of view. He teaches the lessons he learned that day. And just as he will always remember that day's events, so must we always remember our purpose on earth. My summary doesn't do it justice, but it is a great talk.

I loved Steve Adams' discourse on keeping the sabbath day holy. My favorite idea that he listed was to pick a theme for each Sunday, such as missionary work and have your sabbath activities centered around that. Doing so will help the entire family focus on keeping the sabbath holy.

Randal A. Wright gives a great discourse on living with no regrets. Whenever I write my brothers serving a mission, I usually end my letters that way--"Serve with no regrets!" In Wright's talk, he gives some examples of things we might regret and also provides solutions to help us make better choices.

There were other good talks as well about obtaining forgiveness and being clean, gaining a testimony, and even a couple on the Word of Wisdom. These talks will be great to use as a reference in FHE and especially as my children get older.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

EFY 2000: Forward with Faith

I attended Especially For Youth at BYU in the year 2000 with my best friend Nathan Waitman. That week we received a few things corresponding with the theme at EFY that year, including a book with a compilation of talks from those who would be speaking throughout the summer. I must confess that I only read the talks from my favorite speakers and put the book on my shelf to collect dust. In continuing with my goal to read every book on my shelf, I finally finished this volume cover to cover.

Since it is a compilation of a variety of talks, I will just mention a few that really impressed me.

The first is by Ronald Bartholomew. He was my seminary principal at Timpanogoes. His talk is also one I read when I was 15. It is still a great talk about going forward with faith and leaving behind anything that is not worthy of me. In this talk he tells a classic true story of students who destroyed music in their personal collections that was unworthy. He also talks about The Book of Mormon changing lives. This talk will always be a classic to me.

Dwight Durrant gives a great talk on choosing between a mansion or a shack. The Lord has promised us all a mansion if we follow Him. Do the choices I make take me closer to that mansion, or am I building myself a shack instead? Satan tries to make a shack look mighty appealing, but I should never fall for his lies.

Todd B. Parker shares a powerful personal story of losing his mother, and not having the courage to tell her to her face that he loved her. He pleads with the reader to share all tender feelings with loved ones and to never let an opportunity go by.

Brad Wilcox gives a great lesson on different religions around the world. he treats them fairly and gives an accurate history of the religions and a sample of their beliefs. He is not degrading in any way. But at the end, he bears a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ and the religion that bears His name. No other religion is founded by someone claiming to be the Son of God, who then backed up such a statement with mighty miracles culminating in the atonement and resurrection.

My favorite talk in the book, though, was probably "What'ever Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part" by Matthew O. Richardson. This saying comes from a plaque that helped David O. McKay as a missionary, but Richardson applies it to families. Some families are broken. Others are strained. The cure is to follow this counsel. Whether my part is a son, brother, husband, or father, I need to act well my part. Even if nobody else is acting their part well, that does not give me permission to slack. And by performing well my part, I might have a saving effect on the rest of the family.

Reading this book written for teenagers at my age of twenty-eight has confirmed to me that Gospel principles are eternal. This instruction written for the youth is applicable and helpful for an adult. I love that about the Gospel!