Sunday, March 31, 2013

"Sunday Will Come"

"The Resurrection is at the core of our beliefs as Christians. Without it, our faith is meaningless. The Apostle Paul said, “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and [our] faith is also vain.”

"In all the history of the world there have been many great and wise souls, many of whom claimed special knowledge of God. But when the Savior rose from the tomb, He did something no one had ever done. He did something no one else could do. He broke the bonds of death, not only for Himself but for all who have ever lived—the just and the unjust.

"When Christ rose from the grave, becoming the firstfruits of the Resurrection, He made that gift available to all. And with that sublime act, He softened the devastating, consuming sorrow that gnaws at the souls of those who have lost precious loved ones.

"I think of how dark that Friday was when Christ was lifted up on the cross.

"On that terrible Friday the earth shook and grew dark. Frightful storms lashed at the earth.

"Those evil men who sought His life rejoiced. Now that Jesus was no more, surely those who followed Him would disperse. On that day they stood triumphant.

"On that day the veil of the temple was rent in twain.

"Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were both overcome with grief and despair. The superb man they had loved and honored hung lifeless upon the cross.

"On that Friday the Apostles were devastated. Jesus, their Savior—the man who had walked on water and raised the dead—was Himself at the mercy of wicked men. They watched helplessly as He was overcome by His enemies.

"On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled.

"It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.

I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.

"But the doom of that day did not endure.

"The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.

"And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, stood before them as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence.

"Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.

"But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.

"No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come." (Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Sunday Will Come," Ensign, November 2006)

"He Is Risen"

"He Is Risen"

Friday, March 22, 2013


For a number of years, I had the privilege of serving on the board of trustees of Catholic Health Partners (CHP) a large system of hospitals located in the Midwest. One of CHP's core values is compassion. They state it this way: "Compassion: Our commitment to serve with mercy and tenderness." Over the years of my association with them, I have asked myself the question "What is compassion?" I hope to answer this question in this post.

"In the scriptures, compassion means literally 'to suffer with.' It also means to show sympathy, pity, and mercy for another" (The Guide to the Scriptures, Compassion). The godly attribute of compassion is more than just a deep emotion as it always leads to action. CHP's concept of compassion as articulated in their core values embraces this active component of compassion by coupling tenderness and mercy with service. Service becomes compassion in action.

The Savior taught that we should compassionately welcome home the wayward (Luke 15:20) and give assistance to the suffering stranger (Luke 10:33). But He more than taught--He acted. With compassion, Christ was moved to extend His hand to the needy (Mark 1:41), teach the gospel (Mark 6:34), forgive (Matthew 18:27-33), heal the sick (Matthew 9:35 and 14:14) ,and raise the dead (Luke 7:13). In every case, he not only showed sympathy, pity, tenderness, and mercy but He did something to lift a burden.

An instance from the account of Christ's visit to those gathered at the temple in Bountiful sometime after His resurrection illustrates His compassion. After He had taught His gospel to the people, it was time for Him to return to His Father until the next day. As He looked upon those He had taught, He saw them pleading with their tear-filled eyes for Him to stay a little longer. He "said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy" (3 Nephi 17:6-7, emphasis added). He acted; he served.

Christ's ultimate act of compassion was His Atoning sacrifice for us. Without His sacrifice we were doomed. But He gave of Himself in every way imaginable so that we could have hope. He gave us hope in a resurrection and redemption. Isaiah prophetically saw His life, ministry, and mission and poetically wrote:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.  (Isaiah 53:4-9)

Of His Atonement, Alma said,

 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will ctake upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me. (Alma 7:11-13)

With mercy and love, He compassionately give His life so that we might live eternally.  He gave us hope.

“Few things are more needed in this tense and confused world than Christian conviction, Christian compassion, and Christian understanding.” (Jeffery R. Holland, “Standing Together for the Cause of Christ,” Ensign, August 2012). Dieter F. Uchtdorf said,

I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished. I can’t see it. Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Of Regrets and Resolutions," Ensign, November 2012)

The charge then becomes for those striving to follow in Christ's footsteps to be moved with compassion as He was moved. “Let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path. As disciples of Jesus Christ, our Master, we are called to support and heal rather than condemn.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Love and Patience,” Ensign, May 2010).

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tolerance and Civility

Tolerance for those with beliefs different from our own and the ability to civilly discuss our differences appear to be vanishing from our public discourse. The lack of tolerance and civility is particularly prevalent on talk radio, in the political arena, and in the social media. Facebook and blogs have too often become vehicles to participate in the spread of falsehoods, innuendo, unfair judgments, and outright vicious attacks. Clever statements are posted and re-posted without checking to see if any of them are factual. This appears to be particularly true with political commentary. It’s easier to label, name call, and shout than to seek understanding and find solutions to real problem. The sinister idea that the end justifies the means seems acceptable.

Do you think Jesus would engage in such intolerant and uncivil behavior? He taught that we must be like Him (3 Nephi 27:27). As I read the gospels, I see Christ as the ultimate example of tolerance and civility. He even forgave those who crucified Him. As His disciples, we must emulate Him. We can’t be the light on the hill, the salt of the earth, or the leaven spoken of by Christ if our words and actions don’t shine a light into the darkness and lift those around us. Catherine McAuley said, “It is not sufficient that Jesus Christ be formed in us – he must be recognized in our conduct.”  We must be tolerant and civil.

Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” When we use words whether spoken, posted, blogged, or texted,  we should remember the great commandment to love one another. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said,

 Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do... Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Love of God,” Ensign, November 2009)

The Savior said in the Sermon on the Mount:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:43-45)

Civility and respect flow from the love we have for others. Regardless of what they may have said, espoused, or done the Savior said we should bless, do good to, and pray for them. He didn’t say we needed to agree with them or their ideas but we do need to be tolerant, civil, and respectful. Quentin L. Cook said,

We need to be civil in our discourse and respectful in our interactions. We live in a world where there is much turmoil. Many people are both angry and afraid. The Savior taught us to love even our enemies (see Matthew 5:44). This is especially true when we disagree. The moral basis of civility is the Golden Rule. It is taught in most religions and particularly by the Savior. “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). Our faith requires that we treat our neighbors with respect.
In a… [recent] address I pointed out that “there are some who feel that venting their personal anger or deeply held opinions is more important than conducting themselves as Jesus Christ lived and taught. … How we disagree is a real measure of who we are and whether we truly follow the Savior. It is appropriate to disagree, but it is not appropriate to be disagreeable. … If we show love and respect even in adverse circumstances, we become more like Christ. (Quentin L. Cook, “Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom”, Ensign, September 2012)

Dallin H. Oakes speaking of tolerance said:
Living together with mutual respect for one another’s differences is a challenge in today’s world. However . . . this living with differences is what the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us we must do.
The kingdom of God is like leaven, Jesus taught (see Matthew 13:33). Leaven—yeast—is hidden away in the larger mass until the whole is leavened, which means raised by its influence. Our Savior also taught that His followers will have tribulation in the world (see John 16:33), that their numbers and dominions will be small (see 1 Nephi 14:12), and that they will be hated because they are not of the world (see John 17:14). But that is our role. We are called to live with other children of God who do not share our faith or our values…We are to be in the world but not of the world. Because followers of Jesus Christ are commanded to be leaven, we must seek tolerance from those who hate us for not being of the world. . .

We must also practice tolerance and respect toward others. As the Apostle Paul taught, Christians should “follow after the things which make for peace” (Romans 14:19) and, as much as possible, “live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Consequently, we should be alert to honor the good we should see in all people and in many opinions and practices that differ from our own. As the Book of Mormon teaches:

'All things which are good cometh of God; …
'… wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
'Wherefore, take heed … that ye do not judge … that which is good and of God to be of the devil' (Moroni 7:12–14).

That approach to differences will yield tolerance. . ." (Dallin H. Oakes, “Truth and Tolerance,” Ensign, February 2012)

Tolerance, civility, and respect may seem like a steep mountain to climb. However, every hike begins with one small step. May we take that step today. Begin right here, right now. 

Monday, March 4, 2013


On December 6, 2011, Tad R. Callister gave a devotional address at Brigham Young University entitled “Integrity: Foundation of a Christlike Life.” He presented seven principles that are crucial in establishing integrity as a fundamental part of our discipleship. This post is an excerpt from his stellar address.

Robert Bolt’s classic play A Man for All Seasons is the story of Sir Thomas More. He had distinguished himself as a scholar, lawyer, ambassador, and, finally, as Lord Chancellor of England. He was a man of absolute integrity. The play opens with these words of Sir Richard Rich: “Every man has his price! … In money too. … Or pleasure. Titles, women, bricks-and-mortar, there’s always something.”

That is the theme of the play. It is also the theme of life. Is there a man or woman in this world who cannot be bought, whose integrity is beyond price?

As the play unfolds, King Henry VIII desires to divorce Queen Catherine and marry Anne Boleyn. But there is a catch: divorce is forbidden by the Catholic Church. And so King Henry VIII, not to be thwarted in his desires, demands of his subjects the taking of an oath that will support him in his divorce. But there is a further problem.

Sir Thomas More, who is loved and admired by the common people, is a holdout—his conscience will not let him sign the oath. He is unwilling to submit, even at the king’s personal request. Then come the tests. His friends apply their personal charm and pressure, but he will not yield. He is stripped of his wealth, his position, and his family, but he will not sign. Finally, he is falsely tried for his life, but still he will not succumb.

They have taken from him his money, his political power, his friends, and his family—and will yet take his life—but they cannot take from him his integrity. It is not for sale at any price.

At the climax of the play, Sir Thomas More is falsely tried for treason. Sir Richard Rich commits the perjury necessary to convict him. As Sir Richard exits the courtroom, Sir Thomas More asks him, “That’s a chain of office you are wearing. … What [is it]?”

Prosecutor Thomas Cromwell replies, “Sir Richard is appointed Attorney-General for Wales.”

More then looks into Rich’s face with great disdain and retorts, “For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. … But for Wales!”

In the life to come, no doubt many will look back amidst uncontrollable sobs and repeat again and again, “Why did I trade my soul for Wales or temporary physical pleasure or fame or a grade or the approval of my friends? Why did I sell my integrity for a price?”

Principles of Integrity

I would like to address seven principles of integrity that I hope will inspire us to make this Christlike attribute a fundamental character trait in our personal lives.

1. Integrity is the foundation of our character and all other virtues…Integrity is the foundation upon which character and a Christlike life are built. If there are cracks in that foundation, then it will not support the weight of other Christlike attributes that must be built upon it. How can we be humble if we lack the integrity to acknowledge our own weaknesses? How can we develop charity for others if we are not totally honest in our dealings with them? ... At the root of every virtue is integrity...
We cannot continue to fully acquire other Christlike virtues until we first make integrity the granite foundation of our lives. In some cases this may require us to go through the painful process of ripping out an existing foundation built upon deceit and replacing it stone by stone with a foundation of integrity. But it can be done.

2. Integrity is not doing just that which is legal but that which is moral or Christlike... Integrity is not just adherence to the legal code; it is also adherence to the higher moral code. It is as U.S. president Abraham Lincoln suggested: living in accord with “the better angels of our nature.”...

3. Integrity makes decisions based on eternal implications...Integrity is not shortsighted—it is not just a temporary change of behavior; it is a permanent change of nature…King Benjamin told us how we might change our natures from a natural man to a spiritual man: “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).

Changing our natures, not just our behaviors, is facilitated by an eternal perspective that we are the children of God, that we have His spark of divinity within us, and that through the Atonement we can become like Him—the perfect model of integrity.

4. Integrity is disclosing the whole truth and nothing but the truth...The Lord can live with our weaknesses and mistakes, provided we demonstrate a desire and effort to repent. That is what the Atonement is all about. But ... He can[not] easily tolerate a deceitful heart or a lying tongue...

5. Integrity knows no alibis or excuses. There is something ennobling about the man or woman who admits his or her weaknesses and takes the blame square on without excuse or alibi...

6. Integrity is keeping our covenants and our commitments, even in times of inconvenience. Integrity is the courage to do right regardless of the consequences and the inconvenience...
One of the acid tests of our integrity is whether we keep the commitments and promises we have made or whether there are loopholes in our word.

7. Integrity is not governed by the presence of others. It is internally, not externally, driven...
In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Polonius says to his son Laertes:

To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

What wonderful counsel! We have a choice. We can either seize the moment and take control of our lives or become mere puppets to our environment and our peers...

The man of integrity who is true to self and to God will choose the right whether or not anyone is looking because he is self-driven, not externally controlled...

May we all become men and women of integrity—not because we have to but because we want to. (Tad R. Callister, "Integrity: Foundation of a Christlike Life," Ensign, February 2013)

You can find the full text of the talk at