Monday, August 25, 2014


We are in Salt Lake supervising the activities of two grandkids, age 11 & 4.  We are having a ball.  Yesterday we went to their ward to church, and I was thoroughly impressed with what I saw and participated in there.  A young couple and their son, recently moved into the ward, spoke in sacrament meeting.  The talks were all very well prepared and well presented.  The son, age 12, was articulate and presented his message with confidence.  I asked his mom if he wrote his own talk.  She said that he did, and that he typed it himself, which took him 3 hours!

The talks were on Sacrifice and Consecration.  Sacrifice, I think I have a good grip on.  Sometimes it is referred to as a sort of investment scheme with God.  We do something that is an indication of our commitment, like giving up something that is important to us, and God blesses us with a big return on our investment.  That never made sense to me, though, because sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven, but those blessings can’t be part of our lives if we do it as an investment.  Then one Sunday in the gospel doctrine class I asked a question about that (we were living at Dugway Utah at the time) and one of the salty old ladies of the ward simply defined sacrifice as “putting God first.”  Suddenly it all made sense.  It is not about an investment, it is putting ourselves in line with God’s will.  When we do it because we love him, then that is enough reward.  We will be blessed abundantly, but it will be on God’s terms, not ours.  Sacrifice is closely aligned with obedience and is a demonstration of love.

The idea of consecration has always been centered on the Law of Consecration, a community effort that has had various levels of success in the history of human interaction with God, sometimes compared or identified as the United Order.  It has been about the blessings of God coming to people who are willing to make and keep that law.  Often the discussion seems to focus on the idea that we are not now expected to live the Law of Consecration, but that we should be prepared to willingly obey and participate when that day comes.  For now, we live the Law of Tithing, even though we promise to live the Law of Consecration.  That has not sat well with me.

What I learned from impressions of The Holy Ghost into my mind, triggered by what the well-prepared speaker was saying, is that we are not only expected to live that law in some future situation, we are expected to live it fully, now.  The reality of the matter is that if we are not living it 100% now, we will be missing out on the blessings that God promises to the faithful.  Take the rich young ruler who came to Jesus to ask what he needed to do to inherit eternal life.  He was already being obedient to all the law that he had been given.  He was a good person, living a God-centered life.  Jesus told him that he lacked one thing—his wealth was getting between him and God.  Jesus told him to go and sell all that he had and “come follow me.”  The young man went away sorrowfully, for he had much wealth.  He was fully living the Law of Obedience, but he lacked only one thing.  We learn, sadly, that 99% is not enough.  The account of Ananias and Saphira in Acts is a similar sad story.  They were committed to live the Gospel, but 99% was not enough.

So the Law of Consecration is fully in effect now, and we are expected to live it.  That law is not an institutional law, it is a personal law.  The blessings are given on a personal basis, not an institutional one.  Our individual salvation depends on our individual obedience to the Law.  And don’t confuse salvation with exaltation.  Most of the time they are the same thing.  The work and glory of God (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost) is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Even there, 99% is not enough.

Have a good week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lower Salmon River

Lower Salmon River Trip

Last week, after months of planning, several of my siblings and spouses, or even without spouses, took a trip down the Lower Salmon River together.  
Beloved pink potty
The object of the activity was to get as many of us siblings/spouses together as possible without our kids so we could enjoy reconnecting with each other.  It was a great success.
There were some tender blessings upon us during the trip.  One of the wives has been quite restricted in physical mobility.  We were afraid she couldn’t make the trip, but she was up for the attempt, so she came along. We had two passenger rafts with a set of oars at the stern, and a guide to man those oars, and one very large gear boat, manned by another of the staff of the company we floated with.  
We also had two inflatable kayaks that were a ball to ride through the rapids.  Day one Linda was not so sure she wanted to ride hers through the rapids.  Day two, Linda had to be pried out of the kayak she was having so much fun.
Coleton and the gear boat.  This side was not burned.
Anyway, Chris was on one of the smaller boats and not having a great trip, so we decided to try to get her onto the bigger boat.  That is when Linda discovered a 2x10 plank that was just the right length to provide a gangplank for Chris to walk up onto the gear boat. 

Christine Walking the Plank
What a blessing!

The temperatures in the area of White Bird Idaho, right on the Salmon River, have been really warm this year (or maybe every year).  When things get above 100F, that is hot in my book.  It was 108F when we arrived at White Bird.  Along the way, however, we had a few hours of soft drizzle that kept the temps much more in the comfort zone.  There were tents for everybody so we all tolerated the rain very well. Those were not just coincidence in my way of seeing things.

Cliff jumping
There have been some raging fires in the area over the past few days.  The sky was hazy brown and the smoke was irritating to our eyes.  The rain cleared the gunk out of the air, though, and we had fair skies for the final two days.  The water stayed quite clear in the river, though.  I suspect it is all chocolate brown now because of the runoff of rain on the burned areas.  In fact, we floated along one huge tract of burned territory where the fire went from the riverbank clear up the sides and over the top of the mountains.  
Burned landscape, clear up over the mountain tops in the distance.
There will be some erosion problems over the coming months.  We even saw a few cabins and out buildings that were consumed by the flames.

So what did I learn?  I honestly believe that we were heaven-blessed with the plank, the rain, and everything else about the trip.  I hope we can do something like this again before some of us start to check out.  We have reunions that involve the kids and the extended families, and they are great.  But this effort to connect with the siblings and spouses needed to be made.  We know, and like, each other now better than we did before.  
Salmon on the left, Snake on the right
This life is all about family, connecting through the power of the covenants we have made with God and with each other. 
The end of the trip at Heller Bar near Lewiston
Have a great week. 


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Catching Up

When some friends returned from their missions I was a little upset because they stopped writing on their blog sites.  I thought that was narrow of them to stop telling me what was going on in their lives.  Well, we have been home since early May and I have not written.  I have no excuses, except that…Well, it doesn’t matter.

We received a call to serve in the Twin Falls Temple shortly after our return.  
Twin Falls Idaho Temple
We arrive at the temple at 0400 every Wednesday morning and finish at 1100.  That might seem like a silly hour to be serving at the temple, but it is actually very busy.  For the past few years, almost since the temple was dedicated, the baptistery has been open for youth and adults with limited recommends to come and do baptisms.  It is really amazing to observe what is taking place at that early hour.  Every Wednesday as many as 200 young men and young women arrive, on their own without being assigned, to do baptisms.  They come from all over the Magic Valley and some of them driving a couple of hours to get here.  They are bright, happy, beautiful young people, and they are performing a wonderful service for thousands of people who have passed on.  They are also blessing their own lives and the lives of others who come to serve with them.

The temple is an amazing place.  As ordinance workers we have a lot of dialogue to learn.  Every ordinance is to be done with exactness.  The ceremonies are revealed, so we surely don’t have the right to modify them.  The beautiful thing is that as I have been learning the dialogues, the fuller meaning of what is taking place is sinking into my own heart and mind.  There was a time, many years ago, when I wondered what kept people coming to the temple to hear the exact same things over and over.  Well, I don’t think that any more.  It is like reading the Book of Mormon over and over.  The words are exactly the same, but the experience is never the same.  That is because these are places where revelation takes place.  When we come to the temple or to the scriptures with a properly prepared heart and mind, then we put ourselves in place to receive inspiration that does not come in any other place or way.  We don’t talk about specifics in the temple, so I will leave it at that.  But I learned a few years ago that what we learn in the temple comes from revelation.

I’ll try to write more.  There will probably not be as many photos.  I think I can keep it interesting, however.  I learned that one of my older posts had over 10,000 hits!  That flabbergasts me.  Some people don’t have enough to do.

Manhattan New York
Here are a few temples we have visited.  There are more, each of them beautiful.

Salt Lake City Utah
Rexburg Idaho
Nauvoo Illinois
Santo Domingo Dominican Republic
Brisbane Australia