Keeping our baptismal covenants

Today I taught a lesson to the deacon’s quorum at church. The topic of the lesson was “What covenants did I make at baptism?” I had been really busy this week and sadly didn’t get to preparing my lesson until Sunday morning. I was struggling to figure out what to talk about when I had an inspiration from the Holy Ghost to share a story about my ancestor Christian Hans Monson who joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Norway in the 1800’s I have always loved this story and I wanted to share it with my deacons as an example of someone who kept his baptismal covenants. I thought it would be a good story to tell but I was completely unprepared for the way that I was touched as I shared this story to these young men today. As I was sharing the story, I was overcome by gratitude for what this man had done for me in choosing to join the church. The spirit filled the room as I recounted his story of conversion and of his courage in standing up for what he knew to be true. I admire and respect this great man and hope to live in such a way as to honor his name.

Christian Hans Monson 16 June 1837 – 23 September 1896
Christian Hans Monson
16 June 1837 – 23 September 1896

I wanted to share his story here for you to enjoy. This version actually originally appeared in The Friend magazine in 1976 and you can find the original here.

Christian fingered the key in his pocket as he walked toward the jail. It had taken months of study and prayer before he had finally decided to use that key for something more important than just opening the jail door so he could carry meals to those who were held there as prisoners.

Almost all the men in the jailhouse were Mormon missionaries. Many of them had sailed into the Port of Frederikstad in a pilot boat they had fitted up and named Sions Löve (Zion’s Lion) so that they could easily travel to coastal areas of the Scandinavian Mission, then including all of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

At first Christian hadn’t paid much attention to the missionaries, for he was busy learning the catechism so he could correctly answer any questions he might be asked by the priest at the confirmation service that was soon to be held for prospective young members of the Lutheran Church. He was not concerned about the fact that almost as soon as any Mormon missionaries arrived in Frederikstad they were arrested.

Lutheranism was the national religion of Norway and missionaries who taught other doctrines were promptly jailed, some for only a few weeks, others for many months. During this time they frequently were taken to court and almost forced to renounce their religion and declare allegiance to the national church of Norway. Refusing to do so, they were then returned to their quarters.

Christian worked for the warden of the jail who instructed him to heckle and be as unpleasant as possible to the prisoners when he carried meals to them. This seemed like fun until one day a young missionary said, “Why do you talk and act as you do? Remember that so persecuted they the Christ and His followers in Bible times.”

The startled boy asked him to explain what he meant, so two of the elders began talking about the gospel and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon.

Every night as Christian studied for his confirmation examination, he also studied the Book of Mormon, comparing it with his Bible and the Lutheran catechism. As the truthfulness of the restored gospel became more and more apparent to him, Christian prayed to know what he should do. Since no answer came before the confirmation date, he purposely failed the examination and then made application to take it again in six months.

Thinking back over his months of prayer and study, Christian knew what he must do. He finally decided to use his key to the prison to let the two missionaries out of jail long enough to go with him to a nearby fjord so he could be baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Afterward the three walked back to the jailhouse where the elders returned to their room and Christian turned the key in the lock to their cell.

Because of the persecution toward members of the Church throughout Norway, and also because he knew how angry his father would be, Christian did not tell anyone of the thrilling event that had taken place on that cold winter night of 1852. He knew he would not be able to make his stern father understand what he had done. He tried to talk with his mother but she would not listen. When the next confirmation service was held, Christian honored his application and appeared for his examination with the other prospective young Lutherans.

“Do you believe in God?” was the first question asked by the priest.

“Oh, yes,” Christian answered quickly.

“Can you describe Him?” was the next question.

“I know He is a Being with body, parts, and passions,” Christian replied. “I also know He does not sit on the top of a topless throne. I know our Heavenly Father is good and kind, that He sees, hears, and answers prayers. I know we are made in His image as was His Son Jesus Christ.”

The priest was surprised by this description but continued with the examination, becoming more and more amazed with the answers Christian gave. As the boy glanced at his father he could see that he was very upset. Finally, the priest said angrily, “You answer as if you belonged to that sect known as Mormons.”

“I do,” Christian said, “and I’m proud of it!”

At this declaration, Christian’s father arose from his seat near the front of the Church and rushed up the aisle and out the door, striking his cane hard against the floor with every step he took. Confused and embarrassed, Christian’s mother followed her husband, and their son was abruptly dismissed.

Christian went home wanting to talk with his parents, but he was afraid of what they would say. Having carried his usual armful of wood into the house that night, Christian was piling it near the fireplace when his father came into the room. At the sight of his son who he felt had disgraced him, Christian’s father struck him with his cane and then began to beat him. At last, panting for breath, his father laid the merciless cane on the table.

“Oh, Father,” Christian said quietly, “it feels good to be whipped for the gospel’s sake.”

At these words, the father became even more furious. He picked up stick after stick of firewood and hurled them at Christian. When the wood was gone, he opened the door and shouted, “Get out of my house. I never want to see you again!”

Bruised and bleeding from the beating and the wood that had been thrown at him, Christian dragged himself out to the barn where he threw himself upon the hay. Late that night after her husband was asleep, Christian’s mother noiselessly tied a little food and a few of his belongings in a handkerchief and went out to the barn. Tearfully she treated her son’s injuries as well as she could.

“Why, oh why, did you do this thing, Christian?” she pleaded heartbrokenly.

“Because I had to, Mother,” Christian replied. “I have studied and prayed and I know this is the only true Church. I tried to tell you but you would not listen to me. I cannot deny what I know, Mother. If I did, it would be to deny Jesus Christ, our Savior, and I cannot do that.”

“If, as you say, you know this is right, my boy,” his mother told him, “then you must stand firm. But oh, how my heart aches.”

When the first streaks of dawn appeared in the sky, Christian’s mother crept back into the house. Christian picked up the little bundle she had brought to him and started walking down the road. As he passed his house he breathed a good-bye to his parents, for he knew he would never see them again.

Christian Hans Monson didn’t know where he would go or what he could do. “But I have a testimony,” the fourteen-year-old boy said to himself. “Whatever happens, I can never deny that. And I know that because of my testimony, all will be well.”

Wait on the Lord

Patience is an interesting quality. It has been described as “the capacity to endure delay,trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious.” Most people know that they need to learn to be patient but when it comes down to learning to be patient it is often more difficult than it seems it should be. I’ve been blessed in my life to have many experiences that have helped me to develop patience.

While I was serving my LDS mission in the Philippines, I had to learn to deal with people that I didn’t get along with well. I also learned that people have their agency and that no matter what I did, sometimes they would choose to not follow the things that I was teaching them. More recently I was taught patience when a trip home to see my family for an important even didn’t go as planned.

Patience is an especially important virtue when we desire a blessing from the Lord. Sometimes it is difficult for people that believe in the promises of God to understand why He doesn’t bless them with the righteous desires of their hearts when they want Him to. Learning to have patience with the Lord can be particularly difficult and requires faith and diligence in following the commandments of God.

In Psalms 27: 14 David says that we are to “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” When we want any blessing from God, it is important that we realize that we need to wait for His timing in receiving that blessing.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks quoted Neil A. Maxwell saying,

“The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best? The same is true with the second coming and with all those matters wherein our faith needs to include faith in the Lord’s timing for us personally, not just His overall plans and purposes.”

So the key to learning to patiently wait on the Lord is to have faith in the Lord’s timing. I know that as we learn to have faith in the Lord’s timing in our lives that we can live richer, fuller, happier lives. If we are constantly questioning why we aren’t getting this or that blessing that we feel we deserve, then we will never learn to be happy. If we have this negative, scarcity-based mindset we will always live lives of scarcity.  If, however, we choose to rejoice in the blessings that are ours and focus on the abundance of blessings in our lives we will be better able to wait on the Lord for blessings that he has promised will be ours.

“O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”

In Concert Choir we are singing a piece with this title. It is a beautiful piece and speaks of some of the deep longings and desires of the soul. The text is by George Matheson and the music for our setting is by Joseph M. Martin.  This song speaks to me on many levels and I’ve included the text here for you. I’ve found it helpful when thinking about this text to ask myself: what is the Love that will not let me go?  Why do I have to yield my flickering torch? What is the sunshine’s blaze? What is the meaning of the rainbow that we’re tracing through the rain?

O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths
Its flow may richer, fuller be.

O Light that follows all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in the sunshine’s blaze
Its day may brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seeks me through my pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And know the promise is not vain,
That morn will tearless be.

O Cross that raises up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

My “Trip” to Scotland?

Hotmail Logo

Several weeks ago I tried to access my Hotmail account and found that the password had changed. I tried several passwords and none of them worked! Microsoft was supposed to have a way to recover the account by answering a question but the answer to my secret question had also been changed. I was a bit worried about this because I had recently started using Live Mesh to keep my documents synchronized between my several computers. I hoped that there was just a technical problem and that my data was either lost completely or at least not compromised.  I tried several other ways to recover my account with no success.

Then a few days ago the story got even better. I never used that account for email, only to sync documents, so you can imagine my surprise when I got an email from a good friend on my real email account telling me that he though my Hotmail account had been hacked! He said that he had received the following email from “me!” The email is one of those classic scam emails and so I’m including it here. There are tons of problems with this email and I would never send such a thing.

I’m sorry for this odd request because it might get to you too urgent but it’s because of the situation of things right now.

I’m stuck in Scotland with family right now, we came down here on family vacation, we were robbed, worse of it is that bags, cash and cards and our cell phone were stolen at GUN POINT,and it’s hard to get hold of a phone here in Scotland it’s such a crazy experience for us, we need help flying back home, the authorities are not being 100% supportive but the good thing is we still have our passport but don’t have enough money to get our flight ticket back home, please i need you to loan us some money.

All we need is $2,500.00 but anything you can spare right now will be appreciated and I promise to refund it to you as soon as I arrive back home safely.. You have my word!

Thanks,

Well, I obviously wasn’t in Scotland. Also . . . how was I able to access a computer to send an email but couldn’t find a phone to use? Did I have a laptop with me? Well if I did, why didn’t the thief take that too. I don’t know! I guess it will remain a mystery.  Anyway, the moral of the story is: change your passwords often.

P.S.  I may not be the best writer, but my grammar is not that bad!

Aaronic Priesthood – Duty to God

New-Duty-to-God-coverThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently created a manual for Aaronic Priesthood holders to help them prepare themselves to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. This is called Fulfilling My Duty to God and was originally created for young men between the ages of 12-18. The principles that are taught through the activities in this manual, however, provide a great resource to help men of all ages to learn their Priesthood duties and to help them become worthy Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood holders. I’ve started to work through this manual. Part of the activities that are outlined is to share my experience while doing the assignments. I’m going to use the pages in this section to talk about my experiences. I hope that through this I can share my testimony and help to strengthen the testimony of others that may read this.

Don’t Walk on the Grass!

CautionAtClydeGrass

The campus of Brigham Young University (BYU) is one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States. The grounds crew works tirelessly to plant flowers, sweep the sidewalks, rake the leave, shovel the show and keep the campus looking amazing! Unfortunately there is a sub-culture at BYU that for some reason often decides that their own busy schedule and personal need for speed is more important than helping to preserve the beautiful nature of our campus.  The picture in this post shows newly laid sod in front of the engineering building.  Before this new sod was laid last week, there was an ugly, packed dirt, scar running through the lawn. This scar was created by students who were in so much of a hurry that they decided they’d rather cut through the lawn than walk the extra 15 feet to take the sidewalk. I have watched people coming into and leaving the building who walk through this grass as though it was meant to be walked on! They don’t realize that the lawn is there to make things look good! I don’t have a problem with walking on grass if you’re going to sit on it and study, but using it as an alternative to the sidewalk seems lazy and inconsiderate.

My favorite thing I’ve seen with this lawn problem was a few hours after the sod was laid.  A student came out of the clyde, noticed that new grass had been put down, and then very courteously walked just to the left of the new grass rather than walk on the newly laid sod! Does he not realize that it’s people like that that required that the sod be laid in the first place! You can see the end result of this kind of carelessness. Now everyone that walks into that building, rather than see a beautiful lawn, has to deal with caution tape to keep people off the grass!

Ok, that being said, I’ll try to say something a bit more nice about Thanksgiving later this week!