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The restoration was messy (and that's OK)

Years ago, I heard a Bishop say: “Brothers and sisters, the restoration was messy.” I didn’t think much about his wording at the time. But over the few years following (including my mission), I encountered a lot of people wanting to “educate” me about early Church history. Joseph Smith was the most common target, of course. They cited all sorts of stories about him that seemingly “proved” he was a lying, womanizing con man.

I mostly brushed off these claims during my mission. Those critics were not historians. I knew their agenda. I figured they were mostly lies, or at least huge distortions of the history. So, when I got home from my mission, I bought an 800-page history of Joseph Smith. It was written by an active stake patriarch and Church historian who worked on the Joseph Smith Papers project, so I figured his book would blow away all those false accusations with the fiery testimony of truth.

But I was surprised to find that instead of tearing down all the stories the critics had told me, history largely confirmed them. And you know what? That’s OK!

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Rejoice in the trials of the wayward

On Fast Sundays, instead of a full-length article, I write what I call a “fast thoughts” post. A short, unplanned look into a quick lesson I learned from the Book of Mormon. Enjoy.


Sometimes the scriptures are funny. Here’s one example: Alma the Younger. He and his gang of “bishop’s kids” were always causing all sorts of shenanigans and making their parents’ jobs much harder. They were getting into some pretty serious transgressions: preaching false doctrines, encouraging pride, leading many away from the Church, and pretending they’re not home when their ministering brothers came by.

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Ministering: less talk, more action

A few weeks ago, I was called to be the ward mission leader. Since then, I have been pondering on what I need to do to magnify my calling. I have served with a lot of different ward mission leaders both on and off my mission. Some jumped in with the missionaries. Others never learned the missionaries’ names. Some rarely missed an opportunity to attend teaching appointments. Others rarely attended Church itself. Some were overbearing in their calling. Others couldn’t bare to be in their calling. It’s a wide spectrum.

So how does the Lord want me to serve? What should my focus be? How can I put new energy into visiting the “same ten people?” Or do we need a new approach entirely? A lot of weighty questions on my mind. I’ve been trying to discern how Christ wants me to serve in this capacity.

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The only glad tidings

On Fast Sundays, instead of a full-length article, I write what I call a “fast thoughts” post. A short, unplanned look into a quick lesson I learned from the Book of Mormon. Enjoy.


The other day as I was reading King Benjamin’s address to his people, something new stuck out at me. Right in the part where an angel appears and instructs him to teach the people about the coming of the Son of God:

And he said unto me: Awake; and I awoke, and behold he stood before me.

And he said unto me: Awake, and hear the words which I shall tell thee; for behold, I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy.

Mosiah 3:2-3

Sounds familiar, right? Chances are you read something about “good tidings of great joy” a few months ago with your family as you gathered to recount the Christmas story. That phrase about tidings and joy is echoed throughout scripture: from Isaiah to Luke, from Romans to the Doctrine and Covenants, and here in the Book of Mormon. But I noticed that this angelic rendition of the phrase includes an extra work– the angel is here to announce “the glad tidings of great joy.”

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The secrets of Godliness

I’ve heard some members of the Church who wish that they were converts to the Church instead of having been born into it. They look back on their supposedly straightlaced childhoods and say, “I wish I could have had my fun in my youth. You know, sow my wild oats and not worry. Then, after I’m married, I could hear the Gospel, join the Church, and live all the rules.” Sounds so appealing, right? Converts get the best of both worlds after all– they get to experience the pleasures of temptation and then the light of the Gospel once they’ve had all their fun, right?

I hope that idea makes you feel as sick as it makes me feel writing it just now. There are so many problems with that philosophy.

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Asking questions when we already know the answer

On Fast Sundays, instead of a full-length article, I write what I call a “fast thoughts” post. A short, unplanned look into a quick lesson I learned from the Book of Mormon. Enjoy.


I read the Book of Enos again the other night and realized something: Enos’s wrestle with God in the woods doesn’t seem to have told him anything he didn’t already know. Let me explain.

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