Saturday, June 27, 2009

April 2009 General Conference: We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf Second Counselor in the First Presidency counsels priesthood bearers to tend their responsibility with unswerving dedication. He illustrates with a story about an airliner crash caused by a simple single distraction that resulted in the loss of many lives, even though the fault was only caused by a burned-out light bulb, and inattention to the details that matter most.

President Uchtdorf cites the story of Nehemiah, commissioned to strengthen the city walls, would not come down in the midst of his task and be distracted from what was important.
As the work continued, Nehemiah's enemies became more desperate. Four times they entreated him to leave the safety of the city and meet with them under the pretense of resolving the conflict, but Nehemiah knew that their intent was to do him harm. Each time they approached him, he responded with the same answer: "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down."

What a remarkable response! With that clear and unchanging purpose of heart and mind, with that great resolve, the walls of Jerusalem rose until they were rebuilt in an astonishing 52 days.

Nehemiah refused to allow distractions to prevent him from doing what the Lord wanted him to do.

Like Nehemiah, we have a great work to do, and must not be distracted from our duty. Unlike him, there is room for improvement. Our focus must be on the task at hand.

Friday, June 26, 2009

April 2009 General Conference: This Is Your Phone Call

Bishop Richard C. Edgley, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, spoke directly and with some force in issuing a "phone call" to priesthood holders, calling them to action in support of financial and employment challenges facing church members.
Quoting from Gordon B. Hinckley:
“I am satisfied, my brethren, that there is enough of expertise, of knowledge, of strength, of concern in every priesthood quorum to assist the troubled members of that quorum if these resources are properly administered.
“. . . It is the obligation of the priesthood quorum to set in motion those forces and facilities which will equip the needy member to provide on a continuing basis for himself and his family.”3
In October 1856, during a general conference, President Young learned that two handcart companies, the Martin company and the Willie company, were traveling late in the season and would face harsh winter weather on the plains of the western United States. He stood at the pulpit as a prophet of God and declared:
“Many of our brethren and sisters are on the plains with hand-carts, . . . and they must be brought here, we must send assistance to them. . . . This community is to send for them and bring them in. . . .
“That is my religion; that is the dictation of the Holy Ghost that I possess, it is to save the people. . . .
“I will tell you all that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the celestial kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains.”4
As a result of President Young’s call to action, wagons with teams of mules, men to drive them, and flour and other supplies were immediately sent to rescue the people stranded on the plains.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Extra Sensory

I have as little sense of motion as those who supposedly thought the earth was the center of all.

Perhaps it is.

Yet it remains, the same phenomenon that has been observed for generations of time.

I pointed out one time to a group of elders that on that Super Bowl Sunday, millions of people would experience the same illusion, believing that they are "watching" a football game. They were not watching the game per se, but a televised facsimile of one. You might be wont to assert that this is a distinction without a difference, but physical presence can be important, even vital at times.

Our world is dominated and filled with forces we cannot sense. Yet we believe in them, and even use them without thought. Electricity and magnetism are so integral to our machines that we don't give a second's thought. But they would cease to run without that unseen force.

Maybe seeing is believing. But not seeing can be a sure thing too, at times.

From the writings of Alma, in the Book of Mormon:

"...And now as I said concerning faithafaith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye bhope for things which are cnot seen, which are true." (Alma 32:21)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

April 2009 General Conference: Counsel to Young Men

President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke to the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood about the future.

The Aaronic Priesthood ordination was done by the hands of an angel, who announced himself as John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament. The angel explained that he was acting under the direction of Peter, James, and John, the ancient apostles, who held the keys of the higher priesthood, which was called the Priesthood of Melchizedek.The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.

There are some things to understand.
The priesthood is something you cannot see nor hear nor touch, but it is a real authority and a real power.
When Packer was five years old, he had polio. It made him very self-conscious. He knew that he could never be an athlete.
He said it did not help a lot when he read about the man who went to a doctor to find a cure for his inferiority complex. After a careful examination, the doctor told him, “You don’t have a complex. You really are inferior!”
I learned that you should always take care of your body. Take nothing into your body that will harm it, such as we are counseled in the Word of Wisdom: tea, coffee, liquor, tobacco, or anything else that is habit-forming, addictive, or harmful.
Read section 89 in the Doctrine and Covenants. You will find great promises:
“All saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
“And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
“And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.”
And then this promise: “And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.”
You may see others who seem to have been given a more perfect body than yours. Do not fall into the trap of feeling poorly about your height or weight or your features or your skin color or race.
Your gender was determined in the premortal existence. You were born a male. You must treasure and protect the masculine part of your nature. You must have respectful, protective regard for all women and girls.
Avoid pornography and narcotics.
Talk to parents; talk to the bishop. They will know how to help you.
Do not decorate your body with tattoos or piercing to add jewels.
Do not run with friends that worry your parents.
Lucifer and his legion of angels tempt you to do things and say things and think things that would destroy. Resist every impulse that will trouble your spirit.
You are not to be fearful. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “all beings who have bodies have power over those who have not.”

And Lehi taught that all “men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil.”
I made mistakes, not intentionally, but I made them. I once foolishly thought maybe I was baptized too soon. I did not understand that the ordinance of the sacrament, administered by you of the Aaronic Priesthood, is in fact a renewing of the covenant of baptism and the reinstating of the blessings connected with it. I did not see, as the revelations tell us, that I could “retain a remission of [my] sins.”
If you have been guilty of sin or mischief, you must learn about the power of the Atonement, how it works. And with deeply sincere repentance, you can unleash that power. It can rinse out all the small things, and with deep soaking and scrubbing, it will wash away serious transgression. There is nothing from which you cannot be made clean.
With you always is the Holy Ghost, which was conferred upon you at the time of your baptism and confirmation.
You young men should not complain about schooling. Do not immerse yourself so much in the technical that you fail to learn things that are practical. Everything you can learn that is practical—in the house, in the kitchen cooking, in the yard—will be of benefit to you. Never complain about schooling. Study well, and attend always.
“The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.”
“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.”
We are to learn about “things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven.”
You can learn about fixing things and painting things and even sewing things and whatever else is practical. That is worth doing. If it is not of particular benefit to you, it will help you when you are serving other people.
The certainties of the gospel, the truth, once you understand it, will see you through these difficult times. Your generation is filled with uncertainties. A life of fun and games and expensive toys has come to an abrupt end. We move from a generation of ease and entertainment to a generation of hard work and responsibility. We do not know how long that will last.
The reality of life is now part of your priesthood responsibilities. It will not hurt you to want something and not have it. There is a maturing and disciplining that will be good for you. It will ensure that you can have a happy life and raise a happy family. These trials come with responsibility in the priesthood.
Some of you live in countries where most of what you eat and some of what you wear will depend on what can be produced by the family. It may be that what you can contribute will make the difference so that the rent is paid or the family is fed and housed. Learn to work and to support.
The very foundation of human life, of all society, is the family, established by the first commandment to Adam and Eve, our first parents: “Multiply, and replenish the earth.”
Thereafter came the commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
Be a responsible member of your family. Take care of your possessions—your clothing, your property. Do not be wasteful. Learn to be content.
It may seem that the world is in commotion; and it is! It may seem that there are wars and rumors of wars; and there are! It may seem that the future will hold trials and difficulties for you; and it will! However, fear is the opposite of faith. Do not be afraid! I do not fear.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

April 2009 General Conference: Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teaches about prayer, using the Saviors prayers from the scriptures for example and instruction.

The Lord’s Prayer is recorded twice in the New Testament and once in the Book of Mormon. It is also included in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, where clarification is provided by these two phrases:
  1. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” and
  2. “Suffer us not to be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
The clarification on forgiveness is supported by other statements of the Master. He said to His servants, “Inasmuch as you have forgiven one another your trespasses, even so I, the Lord, forgive you.” In other words, if one is to be forgiven, one must first forgive. The clarification on temptation is helpful, for surely we would not be led into temptation by Deity. The Lord said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.”
Though the four versions of the Lord’s Prayer are not identical, they all open with a salutation to “Our Father,” signifying a close relationship between God and His children. The phrase “hallowed be thy name” reflects the respect and worshipful attitude that we should feel as we pray. “Thy will be done” expresses a concept that we will discuss later.
His request for “daily bread” includes a need for spiritual nourishment as well. Jesus, who called Himself “the bread of life,” gave a promise: “He that cometh to me shall never hunger.” And as we partake of sacramental emblems worthily, we are further promised that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. That is spiritual sustenance that cannot be obtained in any other way.
As the Lord closes His prayer, He acknowledges God’s great power and glory, ending with “Amen.” Our prayers also close with amen. Though it is pronounced differently in various languages, its meaning is the same. It means “truly” or “verily.”12 Adding amen solemnly affirms a sermon or a prayer. Those who concur should each add an audible amen to signify “that is my solemn declaration too.”
The Lord prefaced His prayer by first asking His followers to avoid “vain repetitions” and to pray “after this manner.” Thus, the Lord’s Prayer serves as a pattern to follow and not as a piece to memorize and recite repetitively. The Master simply wants us to pray for God’s help while we strive constantly to resist evil and live righteously.

April 2009 General Conference: Temple Worship

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered counsel regarding temple worship for the saints. He asserts that faithful temple worship can be the source of strength and power in times of need. When we keep the temple covenants we have made and when we live righteously, we have no reason to worry or to feel despondent.

To gain more benefit from temple attendance:
  • Understand the doctrine related to temple ordinances, especially the significance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
  • While participating in temple ordinances, consider your relationship to Jesus Christ and His relationship to our Heavenly Father. This simple act will lead to greater understanding of the supernal nature of the temple ordinances.
  • Always prayerfully express gratitude for the incomparable blessings that flow from temple ordinances. Live each day so as to give evidence to Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son of how very much those blessings mean to you.
  • Schedule regular visits to the temple.
  • Leave sufficient time to be unhurried within the temple walls.
  • Rotate activities so that you can participate in all of the ordinances of the temple.
  • Remove your watch when you enter a house of the Lord.
  • Listen carefully to the presentation of each element of the ordinance with an open mind and heart.
  • Be mindful of the individual for whom you are performing the vicarious ordinance. At times pray that he or she will recognize the vital importance of the ordinances and be worthy or prepare to be worthy to benefit from them.
  • Recognize that much of the majesty of the sealing ordinance cannot be understood and remembered with one live experience. Substantial subsequent vicarious work permits one to understand much more of what is communicated in the live ordinances.
  • Realize that a sealing ordinance is not enduring until after it is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Both individuals must be worthy and want the sealing to be eternal.
Those who live far away sometime avail themselves of opportunities more often and more faithfully than those of us who have a temple but a short distance away. Make regular temple attendance a habit.

Sensory Inventory XII

Proprioception (pronounced /ˌproʊpriːəˈsɛpʃən/ PRO-pree-o-SEP-shun); from Latin proprius, meaning "one's own" and perception) is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body. Unlike the six exteroceptive senses (sight, taste, smell, touch, hearing, and balance) by which we perceive the outside world, and interoceptive senses, by which we perceive the pain and the stretching of internal organs, proprioception is a third distinct sensory modality that provides feedback solely on the status of the body internally. It is the sense that indicates whether the body is moving with required effort, as well as where the various parts of the body are located in relation to each other.

My inner sense of proprioception is somewhat compromised, because my inner ear sense of balance signal to the brain are poorly received, if at all. This give me some advantage in that I do no get dizzy -- but neither can I sense that I am bending over the same way most do it. I get visual cues from seeing the world around me, and can receive proprioception signals that tell me how my ankle and hip joints are situated with respect to the rest of my body. The rest is just some kind of magic. It works much better with all the senses firing together, let me assure you. I stumble a lot, because I do not effectively sense where my feet end up, or I forget inbetween steps. It is just another challenge I deal with.

Other sensory impairment continues as before, with some modifications. I can feel some touch on the bottoms of my feet now, but not much on the top. The left foot always sends pins-and-needles sensation like it is asleep. My hands are fully sensitive now most of the time, which is a great relief. My midsection and thighs continue to feel like sheathed in leather.

A slight diminishing in the degree of proprioception sensitivity in my hips has worried me. Sometimes it feels like before, when I could not stand up with my eyes shut. I talked to the neurologist about it last week, and he checked what he could, but it is a difficult issue to address objectively, and I may be stressing about not much. Anyway, it is something I will be paying close attention to over the next few months. Could be indicative of new Shwanomma -- new tumor development -- or regrowth of the tumor on my spinal column.

We'll see...

Rehab progress 34

Routine. Hard work.

This is what it comes down to.

I am trying to re-establish the last summer level of performance. Three miles in forty minutes on the treadmill.

Yesterday I made better than a half-mile in ten minutes, with very little exertion. I am making progress, slowly but surely.

When I can put on a mile in ten minutes, I will be back in pretty good form.