Sunday, December 30, 2012


A week ago Saturday, December 22nd, I was asked to give a talk on Baptism.  This was a special day for the Gonzales Family, as we were in attendance at the Baptism of Katie Wolf.  Katie has been attending church with us for the past six months and began taking the discussions at the beginning of the school year.

I have never spoken on Baptism or at a Baptism.  Below are some of the thoughts that I shared during my talk:

What is Baptism?

From a Greek word meaning to dip or immerse, Baptism in water is the introductory ordinance of the gospel, and must be followed by baptism of the Spirit in order to be complete.

As one of the ordinances of the gospel, it is associated with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Faith and Repentance are essential pre-requisites to being baptized.

Faith in Jesus Christ

The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Having faith in Christ includes having a firm belief that He is the Only Begotten Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world.  We recognize that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father only by relying on His Son's grace and mercy.  When we have faith in Christ, we accept and apply His Atonement and His teachings.  We trust Him and what He says.  We know that He has the power to keep His promises.  Heavenly Father blesses those who have faith to obey His Son.

Faith in Christ leads to action.  It leads to sincere and lasting repentance.


The second principle of the gospel is repentance.  Our faith in Christ and our love for Him lead us to repent, or to change our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are not in harmony with His will.  Repentance includes forming a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world.  When we repent, we feel godly sorrow, then we stop doing things that are wrong and continue doing things that are right.  Bringing our lives in line with God's will through repentance is a central purpose of our lives.  We can return to live with God the Father only through Christ's mercy, and we receive Christ's mercy only on condition of repentance.

Baptism, Our First Covenant

Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance prepare us for the ordinances of baptism and confirmation.  An ordinance is a sacred ceremony or rite that shows that we have entered into a covenant with God.

/God has always required His children to make covenants.  A covenant is a binding and solemn agreement between God and man.  God promises to bless us, and we promise to obey Him.  God sets the terms of gospel covenants, which we either accept or reject.  Keeping covenants brings blessings in this life and exaltation in the life to come.

Covenants place us under a strong obligation to honor our commitments to God.  To keep our covenants, we must give up activities or interests that prevent us from honoring those covenants.  For example, we give up shopping and recreational pursuits on Sunday so we can keep the Sabbath day holy.  We should desire to receive worthily the covenants that God offers us and then strive to keep them.  Our covenants remind us to repent every day of our lives.  By keeping the commandments and serving others we receive and retain a remission of our sins.

Covenants are usually made by means of sacred ordinances, such as baptism.  These ordinances are administered by priesthood authority.  Through the ordinance of baptism, for example, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments.  As we keep our part of the covenant, God promises the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, a remission of our sins, and being born again.

Baptism has always been practiced whenever the gospel of Jesus Christ has been on the earth and has been taught by men holding the holy priesthood who could administer the ordinances.

Baptism symbolizes death, burial, and resurrection, and can only be done my immersion.

Baptism is not optional if one wishes the fullness of salvation.  Jesus said a person must be born of water and of the Spirit.  (John 3:3-5)

When he sent the twelve apostles forth to teach the gospel he told them that whosoever believed and was baptized would be saved; and whosoever did not believe would be damned.  (Mark 16:16)

Jesus himself was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness."  (Matt 3:15; 2 Ne 31:4-11).

Baptism in water has several purposes.  It is for the remission of sins, for membership in the Church, and for entrance into the celestial kingdom; it is also the doorway to personal sanctification when followed by the reception of the Holy Ghost.

Baptism is a most sacred ordinance, which a person, having received it, can remember throughout life as a reminder of the personal commitment to Jesus Christ.  Its symbolism is beautiful, and its consequences ever so desirable.

John the Baptist had the single most honor among all men to take the Son of God into the water and baptize him, after which he saw the Holy Ghost descend upon Jesus Christ.  By being baptized Jesus obeyed the law himself, and set the example for all mankind.  (Matthew 3:13-17).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I was speaking with a good friend today who has been burdened with the weight of being a single mom who worries about how she will continue to provide for herself and her son.  My heart was full of compassion and understanding as she expressed her desires.  I understood the fear and concern that many of us face in this world.

While we were talking I felt prompted to share with her some of the things that I have come to know during my search for peace and security in this life.
I shared with her that she did not need to be afraid because:
"I believe events in our lives are divinely orchestrated.  I also believe our deepest desires come to fruition when we believe that we deserve the best for ourselves and our loved ones."

She acknowledged her faith and devotion to Christian beliefs, yet has felt that it has been difficult to solely rely on God and his divine love.  She has felt that she should be able to survive all on her own.

I told her:  "God has a special love for his daughters.  He will not let you be left alone and without means to provide for yourself and those you care for.  He also listens to the pleading hearts of those who love him and trust him."

She shared with me her desires and what she really wants in her life.

I said:  "Then that is what you pray for."

When we find ourselves in the same place as my friend, we sometimes don't see the hand of the Lord in our lives.  We expect him to show us what we should do or where we should go.  When we don't see the expected results we feel that God is not there.
My counsel to her:  "You may have to find the perfect situation yourself.  Heavenly Father likes it when we figure things out for ourselves.  He actually expects us to do some work...  When you have found what you need you ask him to make it possible."

Because we are divine daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us we have the assurance that he will provide for our needs and wants in this life.  As righteous daughters we have also been promised that we will prosper in this land as long as we remain obedient to his commands and counsel.
I am grateful for the relationship I have with my Heavenly Father.  I am grateful for the unbending knowledge of his great love for me and my family.  Heavenly Father's love for his daughters is a divine tender mercy that brings peace and security to the weary soul.

May you know the tender mercies of the Lord toward you.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics.  While best known for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation"), he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect".  The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory within physics.

In his lecture at Einstein's memorial, nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer summarized his impression of him as a person: "He was almost wholly without sophistication and wholly without worldliness . . . There was always with him a wonderful purity at once childlike and profoundly stubborn."

Albert Einstein was a noted scientist.  He was considered the most intelligent individual.  The scientific community hoped to discover the source of his intellegence by studying his brain.  He is often quoted in lectures, science books and many movies - sometimes mis-quoted.

One of my favorite quotes: 

"It has become appallingly clear that our
technology has surpassed our humanity.
I hope that someday, our humanity
 might yet surpass our technology."

I could spend time writing about what I think Einstein was trying to say and I could be wrong.  I do know what it means to be humane and I know what we can do to develop our humanity that it might surpass our technology.

When speaking to his people, King Benjamin, gave counsel that should inspire us in developing our humanity:

1.  Teach your children.
2.  Share with the poor.
3.  What your thoughts, words and deeds.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find their roots in the teaching of children by fathers and mothers" (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 79; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 60).

When instructed to care for the poor and the needy, King Benjamin did not specifically spell out what we should do.  There is no single right approach to helping the needy.  We should remember the principles taught by King Benjamin and seek the guidance of the Spirit in each situation.  The Lord has established ways in which we can help the needy.  When we give fast offerings or donate money, goods, time, or other service to the Church, we can be confident that our contributions are being used wisely.

King Benjamin taught us that we should do all things "in wisdom and order."  King Benjamin taught his people that to avoid sin and maintain their commitment to God, they must watch their thoughts, words and deeds.

C.S. Lewis wrote:

"Christ says, Give me All.  I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work:  I want you.  I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it.  No half measures are any good.  I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down.... Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked, the whole out-fit.  I will give you a new self instead.  In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 167.)

When we take upon the name of Christ at Baptism we are also making a covenant or accepting a contract with our Lord in heaven.

After Alma taught the people who had gathered at the place of Mormon he invited them to "come into the fold of God, and to be called his people..."  As members of that fold we commit to:

"Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life."

Christ has always asked for just us.  In St Mark chapter 10, Jesus counsels a rich young man:

17 ¶And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none agood but one, that is, God.
19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit aadultery, Do not bkill, Do not csteal, Do not bear false witness, dDefraud not, eHonour thy father and mother.
20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and agive to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and bfollow me.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

I think when we prize our possessions, education, accomplishments, etc. above the simple sweet Gospel of Jesus Christ we have allowed "technology" to surpass our own humanity.  When we decide to take our covenants seriously... those made at baptism and those made in the temple we will find that our humanity has surpassed our technology.  And we will find that there is singular peace and solice in our lives.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


For a little time each day I listen to Celtic Music on Pandora internet radio.

There is a lot of beautiful music.

As I type this blog I am listening to How Great Thou Art - performed by David Nevue a piano soloist.

I believe that all music is inspired.  There is something that speaks to the heart of the composer as he or she creates.  When I listen to Celtic Music I sense a great love for Heavenly Father and his creations.  I believe that the singer/songwriters of Celtic Music have deep faith and are inspired to write meaningful lyrics and blend it with heavenly melodies.

You Raise Me Up by Rolf Lovland and Brendan Graham is one of those songs that touches me deeply.  When I listen to the words and music I have my own personal film strip of images of the Savior in my mind.  I suspect that Rolf Lovland got his inspiration from the Savior and his ministry as recorded in the New Testament.

When I am down and oh, my soul so weary,
When troubles come and my heart burdened be.

Then I am still and wait here in the silence,
until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains,
you raise me up to walk on stormy seas.

I am strong when I am on your shoulders,
you raise me up to more than I can be.

There is no life no life without its hunger,
each restless heart beats so imperfectly,

but when you come and I am filled with wonder,
sometimes I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains,
you raise me up to walk on stormy seas.

I am strong when I am on your shoulders,
you raise me up to more than I can be.

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains,
you raise me up to walk on stormy seas.
I am strong when I am on your shoulders,
you raise me up to more than I can be.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Elder Dallin H Oaks said:

"Revelation is communication from God to man.  It can occur in many different ways.  Some prophets, like Moses and Joseph Smith, have talked to God face to face.  Some persons have had personal communication with angels.  Other revelations have come, as Elder James E. Talmage described it, 'through the dreams of sleep or in waking visions of the mind' (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 229).

"In its more familiar forms, revelation or inspiration comes by means of words or thoughts communicated to the mind (see D&C 8:2-3; Enos 1:10), by sudden enlightenment (see D&C 6:14-15), by positive or negative feelings about proposed courses of action, or even by inspiring performances, as in the performing arts.  As Elder Boyd K. Packer has stated, 'Inspiration comes more as a feeling than as a sound' (Boyd K. Packer, "Prayers and Answers," Ensign, November 1979, pp. 19-20)." (Dallin H. Oaks, "Revelation," New Era, September 1982, p. 38.)

Many symbolic dreams and visions are recorded in the scriptures.  Nephi records the vision of the tree of life received by his father, Lehi, and then by himself.  The vision of the tree of life is a vision for all who believe in Jesus Christ.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught that the tree of life is a symbol of Jesus Christ.  He said:  "The images of Christ and the tree [are] inextricably linked....At the very outset of the Book of Mormon,...Christ is portrayed as the source of eternal life and joy, the living evidence of divine love, and the means whereby God will fulfill his covenant with the house of Israel and indeed the entire family of man, returning them all to their eternal promises" (Christ and the New Covenant [1997], 160, 162).

The fruit of the tree of life represents eternal life - "most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted" (1 Nephi 8:11) and "The greatest of all the gifts of God" (1 Nephi 15:36).  Eternal life is the "most sweet" and "most precious" blessing we can receive.  Because of Heavenly Father's great love for each of us, this blessing is available to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

When Nephi asked to know the interpretation of the tree of life, he was shown and understood Heavenly Father's love for us. He saw Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus Christ.  He witnessed the birth of the Savior of the world.  He saw Christ walk among men and minister unto them.  And then he witnessed God's great love as He "gave his only begotten Son."

When the Father asked His Beloved Son to pay the price of the world's sins, Jesus was prepared and willing.  The atonement included His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and His suffering and death on the cross, and it ended with His Resurrection. 

Both Lehi and Nephi were witnesses to the evidence of Jesus Christ's love for us.   Their desire for each of us is to partake of the fruit from the tree of life.  There is a strait and narrow path that leads to the tree of life.  Beside that path is the rod of iron. 

Many of us have learned through our youth that the iron rod is the word of God.  We have learned this through primary songs and sacrament hymns.  The word of God is found in the scriptures.  If we desire to come unto Christ and to partake of the sweet fruit of eternal life we need to seek after the scriptures and study them.

The vision of the tree of life shows us that we need to grasp onto the rod of iron and remain fixed.  There will come times of darkness and if we have already held fast and have been studying and praying we will not be lost.  Darkness can come in many forms: sickness, depression, loss of employment, loss of spouse, parents or children.  Even when we make mistakes, we can quickly resume our journey by seeking truth and knowledge and forgiveness.

The vision of the tree of life shows us what we must do to reach the tree of life and eternal life.  We must choose to walk on the strait and narrow path.  We must choose to grasp the rod of iron and cling to it.  We must continue moving forward, even through dark times, towards the tree - towards Jesus Christ.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Nephi begins his record with the words that we all know by heart:  "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father..." 

We know from reading Nephi's account that he was educated; had a strong understanding of the scriptures; and that he trusted his father.  Lehi taught his children everything he knew.  Some of what he taught was done by example.

In chapter 1 verse 4 we learn that there were prophets that declared the destruction of Jerusalem prior to Lehi's prophecy.

Lehi went to the Lord to ask for a witness and confirmation.  Lehi was given confirmation through a vision.  He shares the vision with his family and then declared it to the people of Jerusalem.  Lehi's example sets a pattern that was taught to Nephi:  1)  Listening, 2) Prayer, 3) Proclaim, 4) Act.

When Nephi heard his father speak about his vision and the ultimate destruction of Jerusalem he followed that same pattern.   Because Nephi received confirmation himself he was able to support his father's decision to be obedient and depart from Jerusalem.

The early saints were also asked to leave their homes - relocating many times.  Ultimately, the saints settled in the Salt Lake Valley.  Not all who were asked to leave their homes did.  There will come a time when the Lord will ask us to make sacrifices again.  To leave our homes; relocate; and to build Zion.  Do we have the faith to follow the direction of our leaders and to be obedient to the Lord's commandments.

Our responsibility is to follow the pattern set forth in the very first chapter of the Book of Mormon.  Faith and obedience are principles that are essential in developing our testimonies.

We are often asked to do things.  We are extended callings; asked to fulfill assignments and to assist those in need.  Sometimes we may feel that it is difficult or that we don't understand.  It is our responsibility to inquire of the Lord; asking for a witness and a confirmation that what we have been asked to do is right  We then need to be faithful and go about doing.  We may not be able to accomplish the things we have been asked to do.  We need to have faith that the Lord will prepare a way for us.  We should in our heart's say:  "I will go and do..."  President Kimball counseled us to "Do it."  President Uchtdorf counseled us to stand where we are and be the best that we can in the callings and assignments that we have been given.

Lehi taught his children by living a righteous life.  He taught his children obedience, faith, trust in the Lord and most of all gratitude.

After three days in the wilderness, Lehi built an alter and gave thanks to the Lord.  Is it possible to express feelings of gratitude even in difficult circumstances?  I believe we can.

I believe it is very important that we express our gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the many blessings that he pours out upon His children every day.  Our daily prayers should begin with gratitude and thanksgiving.  I believe this gives us a better perspective before we ask for blessings and gifts from our Father in Heaven.  We are able to distinguish between wants and needs.

I am grateful that we have Nephi's account.  I am grateful that we have the scriptures so that we have the information we need to be better parents and faithful servants.  I am also grateful that we have this year to study the Book of Mormon.  The counsel within those pages is a benefit and a blessing to all who read; study; pray and then act.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


"I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." 
 - 1 Nephi 1:20

When Nephi wrote these words; I believe he was trying to share with us one of the purposes for his record:  "I will show unto you...the tender mercies of the Lord...even unto the power of deliverance."

Nephi knew that his record would be a testimony and a witness.  A witness that we would be able to ponder; study and pray about.

There have been many witnesses that have testified of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  The Book of Mormon contains powerful witnesses of prophets like Nephi and Moroni.  These prophets were commanded to write and preserve a record of their people.  Moroni saw our day and he described the conditions of our day.  He was inspired to write about principles that would help us; using examples from his day.

President Benson taught:  "The Book of Mormon... was written for our day.  The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times.  It was meant for us....Each of the major writers of the Book of Mormon testified that he wrote for future generations....If they saw our day and chose those things which would be of greatest worth to us, is not that how we should study the Book of Mormon?  We should constantly ask ourselves, 'Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record?  What lesson can I learn from that to help me live iin this day and age?'" (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 5; or Ensign, Nov 1986, 6).

If the Lord did not love us; why would he have commanded his prophets to instruct us and provide us with the information we need to return to Him?  The tender mercies of the Lord are manifest in every word written for us.  Nephi knew that we are loved by Heavenly Father.  As a parent, it would be difficult to send my child out into the world without all the knowledge, talent and skills that I felt necessary to help him or her to be successful.  Heavenly Father's tender feelings for His children are the same.  The Book of Mormon contains every thing we need to be successful in this life.

The Book of Mormon provides for us another witness of Jesus Christ.  The Book of Mormon was written for the purpose of convincing all people that Jesus is the Christ, manifesting Himself to all nations.  The Book of Mormon is powerful evidence of the divinity of Christ.

The Book of Mormon also contains the fulness of doctrine.  President Ezra Taft Benson said:  "The Lord Himself has stated that the Book of Mormon contains the 'fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.' (D&C 20:9 [;27:5]).... In the Book of Mormon we will find the fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation.  And they are taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn the ways of salvation and exaltation."

The Message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; The Plan of Salvation; The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Commandments; Laws and Ordinances are examples of the teachings found in the Book of Mormon.

I am especially grateful this year that we are studying the Book of Mormon in Gospel Doctrine.  Each prophet since the restoration of the Gospel has instructed members of the church to study and ponder the words contained in the Book of Mormon.

President Gordon B Hinkley declared:  "Those who have read [the Book of Mormon] prayerfully, be they rich or poor, learned or unlearned, have grown under its power....Without reservation I promise you that if you will prayerfully read the Book of Mormon, regardless of how many times you previously have read it, there will come into your hearts...the Spirit of the Lord.  There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to his commandments, and there will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God" ("The Power of the Book of Mormon," Ensign, June 1988, 6).

Elder Bednar shared with us his testimony:

"I am thankful for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith and for the knowledge we have today about the Lord’s tender mercies. Our desires, faithfulness, and obedience invite and help us to discern His mercies in our lives. As one of His servants, I declare my witness that Jesus is the Christ, our Redeemer and our Savior. I know that He lives and that His tender mercies are available to all of us. Each of us can have eyes to see clearly and ears to hear distinctly the tender mercies of the Lord as they strengthen and assist us in these latter days. May our hearts always be filled with gratitude for His abundant and tender mercies. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen."

I wish to all that this year is full of the tender mercies the Lord wishes to pour out upon his children.

Happy New Year!

“the Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Ps. 145:9).