Friday, July 8, 2016

The Danger of Power Hungry Politicians

One of the big problems with American politics right now, on both sides of the aisle, is that a good number of politicians are making decisions with one main objective in mind, to retain power. When they become more concerned with retaining power than with doing what is right they become beholden to press, and popularity instead of principle. They become more concerned with who wins than they do about what is right. I think this is paralyzing, polarizing and antagonizing our country right now. 

I was thinking of this while studying Matthew chapter 2 in the Bible this morning. The thought occurred to me that many of the most notorious acts that were ever committed in the Bible were performed by those who were trying to gain or retain power. Just a couple of examples will suffice to make the point though I am sure that there are many more. 

Killing of Innocents by Herod, by Leon Cogniet,
Why did Herod slay all the children that were in Bethlehem from two years old and under? Because his power felt threatened when the wise men came to worship “the king of the Jews”? Maintaining power was so important to him that the tender feelings of mothers and fathers, siblings and others who would have to see their babies slain meant nothing to him. Pathetic

Why did the Sanhedrin want Jesus, who had taught peace, healed the sick, lame, and diseased, and even raised men from the dead to die so badly? Jesus was having a great influence and they were losing theirs. They wanted to hold on to power and popularity so badly that they violated common sense, lied, and were accessories to the death of the Son of God. Pathetic. Even Pilate recognized it was for envy (Mark 15:10).  

And what of Pilate? Why did Pilate deliver Jesus up to be crucified in spite of the fact that he knew Jesus was innocent and in spite of being warned not to do so by his own wife because of a dream that she had had the night before? He wanted to “content the people” (Mark 15:15). He was more worried about being popular with the people and maintaining power than he was about principle. Pathetic.

I think it is time for the even minded, everyday Americans to come together and to solve America’s problems instead of allowing politicians to continually use those problems as political footballs and to use platitudes and hyperbole to stir up fear, anger, mistrust and to make us all suspicious of one another in order to maintain their power and influence. It is time to punt the power hungry polarizing politicians out of their place, and replace them with those who are driven by true principles that we believe in. I believe that in the heart of most Americans are simple principles that if followed would solve many problems in our country. I hope that I am right. I know that when I sit down with some of my Democratic friends and hear their point of view, and share mine, we have a lot in common, they agree with my point of view and I agree with theirs in many many instances. Why is it that our politicians seem to agree on nothing? I think that Republicans fear that if they agree with a Democrat’s idea, even if it is a good one, it may come back to haunt them during reelection time and vice versa.  

We need to wake up, Republicans, Democrats and Others. We need to stop worrying about winning and start worrying about what’s right. We need to elect individuals who are driven by principle, not power. If when those individuals get into office, we the people sense that their sole goal is to stay there and maintain their power and benefit from it  rather than to do what is right for the American people, we need to get them out of there and put someone in their place who is principle driven not power driven. If in the coming days we become a polarized populous, elect a Pilate like President, a Sanhedrin like Senate and Herod like House, we will continue to become more and more divided. As each political party continues to pursue power, the irony is the United States of America will become less and less powerful. We can't let that happen. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

I had a dream last week that changed my paradigm...

A few nights ago I had a dream that was very disturbing and that has been troubling me ever since. My family and I were in a unfamiliar place trying to escape the ravages of violent Islamic Extremists. We were sneaking through the woods trying to quietly escape them. In my dream I knew that if we were discovered, we would be abused or killed. I was terrified. I was trying to help my daughters not be afraid and to not let them sense my fear. We ended up getting into a cold river and swimming for safety. Every second was filled with fear and anxiety. I was trying to help my youngest daughter swim, and was struggling to keep both of our heads above the freezing cold water. At the same time I was trying to keep everyone quiet. Even the sound of their arms slapping the water as they were swimming stressed me to the core. I was especially worried about my two older daughters who we had to let swim on their own. I kept whispering to them, “Are you guys ok?” They were in tears, cold and terrified. I could see the fear in my wife’s eyes as she was helping them along. My eyes were scouring the river banks terrified that we would be discovered at any moment. Every sound I heard shot lightning bolt of fear throughout my entire body.
Suddenly I awoke laying in my safe bed in a cold sweat and the dream was over. I was filled with gratitude to be in my bed. I was so happy to be in a safe place where I didn’t have to worry about such things. I looked at my wife sleeping peacefully next to me, and went and checked on each of my daughters.  As I returned to my bed I laid there pondering the relief and gratitude I felt that it was just a dream. 
It was then that I was struck with an awful reality. There are fathers, and mothers, and children right now in various parts of the world who are dealing with the realities of my horrible fleeting dream.
My heart was filled with sorrow for those people. I know that even as I am writing this there is a Father somewhere in the world that is looking into the terrified eyes of his wife and children, who is dealing with the fear, anxiety and frustration that I was dealing with during my dream.
I hope that all of us who are fortunate enough to not live in such circumstances will lay aside politics and offer whatever help we can to people who are suffering such things. It may feel like there is little we can do to help, but If we can do nothing else we can cry unto our God on their behalf. Isaiah taught the following: “strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be Strong, fear not: behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:3-4).
I pray that this will happen sooner than later. That may be all I can do right now so I will do it. I will pray for those whose reality parallels my horrible dream and I will pray that God will deliver them who have honest hearts, who just want peace for themselves and their families. My heart hurts for such people.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Why I don't pay for Dance anymore!

The other night someone asked me "Why do you pay so much money for your girls to dance?" 

Well I have a confession to make, I don't pay for dance. Personally, I couldn't care less about dance. I grew up in a family of 4 boys and no girls. The "Nutcracker" was something you did on a dare off of the high dive at the pool or something you unpleasantly surprised your brother with. Up until the day I met my wife if I were asked to go to Swan Lake I would have asked if we were water skiing or fishing.

So if I am not paying for dance what am I paying for? I pay for those moments when my daughters become so tired they want to quit but don't. I pay for those days when my daughters come home from school and are "too tired" to go dance but go anyway. I pay for my daughters to learn to be graceful. I pay for my daughters to learn to take care of their body. I pay for my daughters to learn to work with others and to be good teammates. I pay for my daughters to learn to deal with disappointment, when they don't get that part they hoped for, but still have to work hard at the part that they received. I pay for my daughters learn to make and accomplish goals. I pay for my daughters to learn that it takes hours and hours and hours and hours of hard work and practice to create something beautiful, and that success does not happen over night. I pay for the opportunity my daughters have and will have to make life long friendships. I pay so that my daughters can be on stage instead of in front of a screen...

I could go on but to be short, I don't pay for dance, I pay for the opportunities that dance provides my daughters to develop attributes that will serve them well throughout their lives and give them the opportunity to bless the lives of others. From what I have seen so far I think it is a great investment! 

I am sure that other parents get similar questions. "Why do you pay for competitive baseball?" "Why do you pay for Quarterback training?" "Why do you pay for club soccer?" "Why does your kid swim year round?".... I just think it is important to realize what we are really paying for. 

Shad Martin, Especially for Athletes

Visit to see the difference that E4A athletes and dancers are making in the world and to have the E4A team come visit your team or company.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sacrifice brings forth the Blessings of Heaven

East Meadows Ward Conference, August 23, 2015

Brothers and Sisters,

It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to address you today at our ward conference. I am standing here today exactly 14 years from the moment that I was kneeling across the altar from my wife, being sealed to her for time and for all eternity. Words cannot express how grateful I am for her, and for the Savior who has opened up the way for me to be with her and my girls for eternity.  I want to express my love and appreciation for you, for all of you! I know that you spend countless hours in building the kingdom of God here in the East Meadows Ward. I have thought deeply, and prayed fervently to know what the Lord would have me say to you today. I feel like the Lord has answered my prayer and given me direction in my preparation.

Today I would like to speak about how “Sacrifice brings forth the Blessings of Heaven”

To start brothers and sisters I would like to ask a question:

Do you believe that the Lord will bless you if you obey Him? I want to ask that again and I want you to really think about it for a second. Do you believe that the Lord will bless you if you obey him?

I believe brothers and sisters that the honest answer to that question will ultimately determine whether or not we will be willing to sacrifice.

First I would like to speak to those who sincerely question in their heart of hearts whether or not the Lord will bless them if they obey him. You may be like the man with a suffering son who when the Savior asked him if he believed “said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). The Lord performed a miracle in the life of his boy and helped his unbelief. I would invite you to put the Lord to the test. He has said, “I the Lord am bound when you do what I say, but when you do not what I say ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10) He has said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). He has said through James, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and ubraideth not, and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5) He has said through the prophet Alma, “if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, … it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.” (Alma 32:27-28) He has said through Moroni, “ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”  (Moroni 10:4-5)

I testify with all of my heart that if you will experiment upon his word, and do his will, and ask with a sincere heart and real intent, that in his time and in his way, he will manifest the truth of it unto you.

Brothers and Sisters I am about to testify to you of something with all of the power that I possess and with all of the tender feelings of my heart. I want you to know my motive for doing so. I do not testify of this for my own good, and not even for the good of the ward, but for your own good. I want to testify of this truth to the youth, to the children, and to the adults. I testify of this humbled by the fact that I hold sacred keys to help guide this ward.  This is what I feel to testify of to you today:  If you will sacrifice what the Lord has asked you to Sacrifice, he will make more out of your life than you can…I want to say that again. If you will sacrifice what the Lord has asked you to Sacrifice, he will make more out of your life than you can.

Though I feel that have countless examples from my own life, and though I can relate countless examples from the lives of members of this ward, I would like to relate a simple account that I heard recently in a training I received on the Sabbath day that touched my heart and which illustrates powerfully the principle I am trying to testify of:

Sister and Elder Beecher, a missionary couple who served in Africa wrote the following:
“We live in a very poor part of Kenya on the border of Uganda. One of our branch presidents … is a farmer living on an extended family compound. He is a young man with a small family. …
“… He has members of his branch who tell him … that they cannot come to Church on Sunday because … they are afraid to leave their homes for fear their neighbors will steal their crops. … [This] is a very REAL concern. … In fact, people … wait to plant when the other neighbors plant, so they lessen the chance for their early harvest to be taken. …”
“[They also say] they cannot come to Church on Sunday because they must work … because they are so poor.”
“[The branch president] continued, ‘I tell them, “I leave my home every Sunday and stay at Church for long hours of the day. I do not work on the Sabbath. When I return home, I have often found that my neighbors have stolen my [corn], my chickens, their eggs, my fruit because they are hungry and they have no food. Still, I find that when it comes time for harvest, I am blessed because my land produces more than theirs—even though they work each Sunday. My land produces more, and I am blessed because I keep the Sabbath Day holy.”’
“Hearing [this branch president’s] comment, [another branch president] said, ‘I can attest to the same thing. I have 2 acres of [corn]. My neighbor works 10 acres. He works every Sunday. I do not. When it comes time to harvest, I have plenty. My neighbor comes to me for food because he hasn’t enough. I, too, am blessed for living the law of the Sabbath.’” (Neal and Jackie Beecher, email message to R. Kelly Haws, May 24, 2011)

The person who shared this story continued: “The Lord’s ways are higher than our ways—and so is His arithmetic. It is different than ours.” (Chad Webb, S&I Broadcast, August 2015)

I know brothers and sisters that this is true.

I know you are busy, so am I, but I would like to invite you to sacrifice some time in order to do some things that the Lord has asked us to do:
·        Give the Lord the Sabbath day. Let everything you do on that day be a sign unto him that you remember His sacrifice and are grateful for it.
·        Sacrifice the time necessary to magnify your calling
·        Sacrifice the time necessary to do your home and visiting teaching and to have home and visiting teachers visit your family.
·        Sacrifice the time necessary to do family history and temple work
·        Sacrifice the time necessary to study the gospel with your family

If you will do so Brothers and Sisters I know the Lord can do more with the time that is left over than you can do if you were to sacrifice none of your time in order to build the kingdom of God. I know that some may be too busy to do these things, but brother s and sisters if you are too busy to do these things maybe you are too busy. It might be wise to council together as a family about what you can eliminate in order to fit these essential things into your life.

Elder Richard G Scott has said, “Are there so many fascinating, exciting things to do, or so many challenges pressing upon you, that it is hard to keep focused on that which is essential? Satan has a powerful tool to use against good people, those who are committed to a worthy, righteous life, who want to do good and intend to make the most of this life.  His tool is distraction. He would have good people fill life with "good things" so there is no room for the "essential ones."  Have you unconsciously  been caught in that trap?” (Finding Peace, Happiness, and Joy [2007], p. 10-11; emphasis original).

If you have been caught in this trap brothers and sisters I would counsel you to counsel with the Lord individually and as a family. I know he will direct your paths for good, and prepare a way for you to keep his commandments.

The same principle can be applied to tithes and offerings, 10 minus 1 does not equal 9. The Lord blesses us with what we need and more. I have a testimony of the fact that the Lord will enable you to do more with 90 percent of your income than you can do with 100 percent your income. From where I sit brothers and sisters and with what I have noticed, there is not one person in the congregation who can afford to not pay tithing and offerings. The Lord has invited each of us to, “Prove me now herewith … if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:8-10).
I would like to end where I began and ask once again: Do you believe that the Lord will bless you if you obey him?

I testify that He will. Our church is led, and our stake is led, and through many sacred, undeniable experiences I have learned that our ward is led by the creator of the universe, by the God who brought the children of Israel through the red see on dry ground, by the God that helped David defeat Goliath, by the God that was born in Bethlehem, who grew to heal the sick, raise the dead, and who taught with power. We are led by the God that suffered and bled from every pore and laid down his life and took it up again on the third day. We are led by the God who took an obscure fourteen year old farm boy and through him established a church that will continue to “go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

The same God that did miracle after miracle, from the time Adam down to our day, can and will work miracles in our lives, and in our family’s lives if we are willing to do what He has asked us to do and to sacrifice what he has asked us to sacrifice.

None of us are perfect brothers and sisters, this talk has pricked my own conscience. I have things that I must change. It is my prayer that each of us can check ourselves and have the faith to repent if repentance is needed. I know that the Lord will forgive us and bless us as we seek to do so.  I pray that each of us will sacrifice what we have been asked to sacrifice, because I know “that sacrifice truly does bring forth the blessings of Heaven”.  I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.