We took a drive around the Idaho side of the Tetons. The colors are beginning to change, but will get more vibrant with a little more time.
We will canoe a stretch of this river then go to a lodge for some meetings. I think it will be fun.
This little trip was very fun. We love spending time together.
Now, for those who are interested, here is a talk I gave a few weeks ago about the commandments:
I’m often misunderstood. For example, a few months ago I went to the doctor for a checkup. I like to keep my weight under 170. When I stepped on the scale, I was surprised to see that I weighed 174 pounds. “Why don’t you just take off the four?” I joked to the nurse’s aide as she looked at me funny and made a notation on my chart.
A few moments later, my doctor came in and flipped through the chart. “I see you’ve lost weight,” he said. “You’re down to 17 pounds.” (adopted from Reader’s Digest)
So, I hope the Holy Ghost will help us understand one another as I speak.
As in all things, Jesus Christ is our example. He says: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15:10).
We all face challenges in mortality, but the Savior gave us reason to have great hope even amidst the greatest challenges as we keep his commandments. Listen to some of the things he says will happen if we strive to keep his commandments:
“Let your heart not be troubled” (John 14:1) “your heart will not be troubled.”
“You shall be given another comforter to abide with you forever” (John 14:16)
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27)
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)
Hymn number 241 in the hymnbook says: “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings; see what God hath done.” Although we all have real challenges in our lives, we also have many things to be thankful for. I hope we are taking the time to reflect on those things often. As we reflect on and count our many blessings, I hope we are counting the commandments among them.
Commandments are a great blessing in our lives—in 1831, Joseph Smith received a revelation for the people of Zion in Jackson County Missouri. This revelation is recorded in D&C 59. Versus 3 and 4 read:
3. Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth, and it shall bring forth in its strength.
4. And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me.
It’s interesting that one of the blessings that those who obey the gospel will be “crowned” with are commandments . . . and not a few.”
Keeping the commandments results in blessings. Today, I’ll talk about three of those blessings. First, safety. Second, direction. Third, an avenue to express love and friendship.
I had a wonderful childhood growing up in San Jose, California. My Father taught high school and as a result we had long delightful vacations every summer. These were not expensive vacations, but they were memorable family vacations. Many summers as soon as school was out, we would go to Filer, Idaho to spend the summer on my grandparent’s farm. These were my mother’s parents and our grandma and grandpa were affectionately known to us as Mamo and Papo.
Mamo and Papo ran a small 80 acre farm. They grew sugar beets, beans, grain, and hay. Along with the crops that they grew, they always had cows. In the early years Papo milked the cows, but as time progressed he simply raised them for beef. But we could tell that he really loved his cows.
As kids, my brother, cousins, and I loved adrenaline and thought it was risky, adventurous fun to catch and ride the cows. Our strategy was to chase the cows into a corner of the corral where they had little room to maneuver, close in on them slowly, single out one of the cows, and then one of us would jump on its back and ride until we got thrown to the ground. It would really get our adrenaline flowing, and we viewed it as a great experience that we would never have back in San Jose. Papo would shake his head back and forth, tell us not to chase the cows, and playfully mumble “city slickers” under his breath.
Even though we were told not to, when Papo was in the fields we would chase and ride the cows anyway. One time, however, we got over zealous in our cow chasing and the cows got fed up with our shenanigans. Instead of stopping in the corner, they ran half over/half through the wooden rail fence of the corral. Boy, were we surprised. That certainly was not in our plans. Who’d have thought you could chase cows right through a fence?
The cows trickled through the fence like water through a leaky dam. They spread out everywhere. Some went to the hay field, some to the front lawn of the house, and others to the highway that bordered the house and had speeding gravel trucks at regular intervals on it. We had no idea what to do or how to get the cows back.
It took a while, but when Papo found out he immediately jumped in his blue pick-up and raced up the lane leaving a trail of dust behind him. When he got to the house it was easy to tell he was not a happy farmer. He was especially worried about the cows on the highway and in the hay since they were in the most danger of being hurt. We understood how a speeding truck might not be good for a cow, but apparently, we learned, it is possible for cows to eat too much fresh hay which can also kill them.
Papo was a lot worried and a little angry, but he didn’t take time to discipline us. He just got things organized, and after a long time got all the cows safely back in the corral. Then he sternly told us not to chase the cows because it put them in danger.
I always thought that fences were a bit cruel and designed to keep unwilling cows locked up like prisoners against their will. What I learned, however, was that fences were meant to keep the cows safe.
The analogy is that fences are like commandments. Our Heavenly Father gives us commandments to protect us and keep us safe. Even though they might seem restrictive at times, they are given to us out of love. I don’t fault the cows for running through the fence when we chased them, but I hope we are smarter than the cows. Whatever ideas, people, or things might chase us around in life, I hope we will just keep moving and stay inside.
As the primary song says:
Keep the commandments;
Keep the commandments!
In this there is safety;
In this there is peace.
In Mosiah 2:22 King Benjamin reminds us -
And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
Oklahoma Trip, hiking, and Directions
I recently took a 20 hour road trip to Bartlesville Oklahoma where my son and his family live. I’ve been there before, and pretty much know the way, but I still use my GPS every time I go. I like the way the GPS guides me little by little and tells me where to go one step at a time and how long before I get to the end of each leg of the journey. Then, when I successfully get to the end of one leg it tells me where to go for the next step of the trip. This continues until I reached the final destination to enjoy my son, his wife, and their three little girls. Even if I take a wrong turn, my GPS can get me back on the right way. I like the way it gives ongoing directions.
When this same son was younger he and many members of our family and extended family hiked the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Mountains of California. We finished at the top of Mt. Whitney in the Southern Sierras. One day, he, his sister, and a cousin wanted to go ahead of the main group of hikers. They were given permission to go ahead at their own pace with the direction to wait at the bottom of the mountain by a river we would have to cross. They happily agreed and took off at high speed. On their way, they went straight down the mountain instead of staying on the trail cutting switchback after switchback until they got to the river where the trail crossed and they stopped and waited. They knew they were far ahead of the second group and had some time to relax at the river. What they didn’t know was that as they cut the trail they ended up on a different trail than the one they were supposed to be on. It still took them to the river, but to a different spot on the river. So the kids, thinking they were on the correct trail, waited at the river like they had been instructed to do. The second group who knew they were on the right trail eventually arrived at the river, but the first group was nowhere to be seen or heard.
It took a long time, a lot of worry and frustration, and a lot of prayer, but eventually the two groups found each other and we were able to continue our journey.
In this situation, there were no ongoing directions. Had they had some directions at the bottom of every switchback, and followed them, they would not have gotten lost. Unfortunately, this is not the way the trails work. Fortunately, however, this is the way the commandments work.
In D&C 82:8-9
8. And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a new commandment, that you may understand my will concerning you;
9. Or, in other words, I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation.
10. I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.
Isn’t it interesting that we really do receive ongoing directions as we move forward in the gospel. First we make the baptismal covenant and keep commandments connected to that covenant, then with each new ordinance all the way up and through the temple we are given commandments (or directions) all along the way. If we listen and keep the commandments, or directions, all along the way we will continuously and consistently reach the desired benchmarks and receive new directions to continue the next part of the journey to the next benchmark until we have successfully journeyed back to our Heavenly Father. It is part of His “amazing grace” and love for us that we are given commandments/directions.
In the Book of Mormon, the Liahona gave ongoing directions as long as Lehi and his family had faith and followed the directions given to them.
So, the second blessing of having commandments is that they provide ongoing directions for us.
Then, In Matthew 22, Jesus was talking to a diverse group of people which included not only his disciples but the chief priests, pharissees, scribes and lawyers. Remember one of the lawyers asked him a question saying “Which is the great commandment in the law?”. And Jesus said unto him . . . (37-38)
35. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36. Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38. This is the first and great commandment.
So, there is a question I always end up asking myself when I count my many blessings. It is, how can I let my Savior know how much I love him?
In John 14:15 it says: “If ye love me keep my commandments.”
It is a great blessing to have a way to express our love to our Savior. When we keep His commandments, He recognizes our love for Him.
And wouldn’t it be great if we could be friends with our Savior? In John 15:14 it says, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
So, the third great blessing of commandments is that they give us an avenue to express our love to our Savior and to create a relationship with him that results in being called his friends.