October 31, 2015




Sabbath to Sabbath Day
representing energy
serving and preserving
pollinating great distances
regenerating ego systems
as on the Sabbath we too
spreading here to there
the precious sacred word
receiving greater strength
working during the day
resting during the night
Sabbath to Sabbath Day!

Copyright © 2015 – cji

Visiting Teaching Message November 2015

“If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments”

By Carole M. Stephens

First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency


God’s commandments are a manifestation of His love for us, and obedience to His commandments is an expression of our love for Him.
When our oldest daughter, Jen, brought her third daughter home from the hospital, I went to her home to help. After getting her oldest daughter off to school, we decided that what Jen needed most was rest. So the best help I could give was to take her daughter Chloe home with me so her mom and new baby sister could have some quiet time.
I buckled Chloe into her car seat, secured my own seat belt, and drove out of their driveway. However, before we reached the end of the street, Chloe had unbuckled her seat belt and was standing up, looking over my shoulder, and talking to me! I pulled the car over to the side of the road, got out, and buckled her back into her seat.
We started again but had gone only a short distance when she was out of her seat again. I repeated the same steps, but this time before I could even get back into the car and fasten my own seat belt, Chloe was already standing up!
I found myself sitting in a car, parked on the side of the road, having a power struggle with a three-year-old. And she was winning!
I used every idea I could think of to convince her that remaining fastened in her car seat was a good idea. She was not convinced! I finally decided to try the if/then approach.
I said, “Chloe, if you will stay buckled in your car seat, then as soon as we get to Grandma’s house, we can play with play dough.”
No response.
“Chloe, if you will stay buckled in your seat, then we can make bread when we get to Grandma’s house.”
No response.
I tried again. “Chloe, if you will stay buckled in your seat, then we can stop at the market for a treat!”
After three attempts, I realized this was a futile exercise. She was determined, and no amount of if/then was enough to convince her to remain fastened in her seat.
We couldn’t spend the day sitting on the edge of the road, but I wanted to be obedient to the law, and it wasn’t safe to drive with Chloe standing up. I offered a silent prayer and heard the Spirit whisper, “Teach her.”
I turned to face her and pulled my seat belt away from my body so she could see it. I said, “Chloe, I am wearing this seat belt because it will protect me. But you aren’t wearing your seat belt, and you won’t be safe. And I will be so sad if you get hurt.”
She looked at me; I could almost see the wheels turning in her little mind as I waited anxiously for her response. Finally, her big blue eyes brightened, and she said, “Grandma, you want me to wear my seat belt because you love me!”
The Spirit filled the car as I expressed my love for this precious little girl. I didn’t want to lose that feeling, but I knew I had an opportunity, so I got out and secured her in her car seat. Then I asked, “Chloe, will you please stay in your car seat?” And she did—all the way to the market for a treat! And she stayed buckled all the way from the market to my home, where we made bread and played with play dough because Chloe did not forget!
As I drove back onto the road that day, a scripture filled my mind: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”1 We have rules to teach, guide, and protect children. Why? Because of the great love we have for them. But until Chloe understood that my desire for her to remain securely fastened in her car seat was because of my love for her, she was unwilling to submit to what she considered a restriction. She felt her seat belt limited her freedom.
Like Chloe, we can choose to see commandments as limitations. We may feel at times that God’s laws restrict our personal freedom, take from us our agency, and limit our growth. But as we seek for greater understanding, as we allow our Father to teach us, we will begin to see that His laws are a manifestation of His love for us and obedience to His laws is an expression of our love for Him.
If you find yourself figuratively parked on the side of the road, can I suggest a few principles that, if followed, will help you get safely back on “the road of faith and obedience”?2
First, trust God. Trust in His eternal plan for you. Each of us is “a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.” Their love for us is apparent in commandments. Commandments are vital instructions to teach, guide, and protect us as we “gain earthly experience.”3
In the “premortal realm” we used our agency to accept God’s plan,4 and we learned that obedience to God’s eternal law was vital to our success in His plan. Scriptures teach, “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated.”5 If we obey the law, we receive the blessings.
Even with all of the mistakes, opposition, and learning that accompany our mortal experience, God never loses sight of our eternal potential, even when we do. We can trust Him “because God wants His children back.”6 And He has provided a way through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Atonement “is the core of the plan of salvation.”7
Second, trust Jesus. The ultimate expression of obedience and love is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Submitting Himself to the Father’s will, He gave His life for us. He said, “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.”8
Jesus also taught:
“Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment.
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”9
Each Sunday we have the opportunity to ponder and remember our Savior’s pure love as we partake of the emblems of His infinite Atonement. During thesacrament, I watch as hands and arms extend to pass the bread and the water. As I extend my arm and partake, I covenant that I am willing to take His name upon me, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. And He promises “that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with [us].”10
Third, trust the whisperings of the Spirit. Remember during my experience with Chloe that the Spirit whispered a scripture to me? It is in John 14:15: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” And these important verses follow:
“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”11
Every worthy, confirmed member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the right to the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Fasting, prayer, scripture study, and obedience greatly enhance our ability to hear and feel the promptings of the Spirit.
When your mind is filled with doubt and confusion, the Father and the Son will send the Holy Ghost to warn you and guide you safely through the dangers of this mortal journey. He will help you remember, comfort you, and fill you “with hope and perfect love.”12
Fourth, trust the counsel of living prophets. Our Father has provided a way for us to hear His word and know His law through His prophets. The Lord declared, “My word shall … all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”13
Recently, living prophets have counseled us to “remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,”14 and to live the law of the fast. Obedience to this prophetic counsel provides a way for us to be obedient to God’s commandment to love Him and our neighbor as we increase our faith in Jesus Christ and extend our hand to love and care for others.15
There is safety in following the word of the Lord through His prophets. God called President Thomas S. Monson, the counselors in the First Presidency, and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. In this world of increasing fear, distraction, adversity, and anger, we can look to them to see how disciples of Jesus Christ—filled with charity—look, sound, and react to issues that could be divisive. They testify of Jesus Christ and respond with charity, the pure love of Jesus Christ, whose witnesses they are.
After my experience with Chloe, I searched the scriptures for verses that mentioned commandments and love. I found many. Each of these verses reminds us that His commandments are a manifestation of His love for us and obedience to His commandments is an expression of our love for Him.
I testify that as we trust God, our Eternal Father; trust His Son, Jesus Christ, and exercise faith in His Atonement; trust the whisperings of the Spirit; and trust the counsel of living prophets, we will find our way off the edge of the road and continue safely—not just enduring but finding joy in our journey home. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

“Trust in Truth”


Many people trust in friends
others in the wiles of the world
some trust not in anything at all
but it’s so important to trust truth
therefore to learn to discern truth
one must hear the Spirits call
staying away from the world
knowing those Father sends!

Copyright © 2015 – cji

Home Teaching November 2015

Be Not Afraid, Only Believe

By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Second Counselor in the First Presidency


When we choose to believe, exercise faith unto repentance, and follow our Savior, Jesus Christ, we open our spiritual eyes to splendors we can scarcely imagine.

Babylon and Daniel

Twenty-six hundred years ago, Babylon was the world’s great superpower. One ancient historian described the walls of Babylon that surrounded the city as more than 300 feet (90 m) high and 80 feet (25 m) thick. “In magnificence,” he wrote, “there is no other city that approaches … it.”1
In its day, Babylon was the world’s center of learning, law, and philosophy. Its military might was unparalleled. It shattered the power of Egypt. It invaded, torched, and looted the Assyrian capital, Nineveh. It easily conquered Jerusalem and carried away the best and brightest of the children of Israel back to Babylon to serve King Nebuchadnezzar.
One of these captives was a young man by the name of Daniel. Many scholars believe that Daniel was between 12 and 17 years old at the time. Think of it, my beloved young Aaronic Priesthood holders: Daniel was very likely your age when he was taken into the king’s court to be educated in the language, laws, religion, and science of the worldly Babylon.
Can you imagine what it would have felt like to be forced from your home, marched 500 miles (800 km) to a foreign city, and indoctrinated in the religion of your enemies?
Daniel had been raised as a follower of Jehovah. He believed in and worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He had studied the words of the prophets, and he knew of God’s interaction with man.
But now, at a very young age, he was a prisoner-student in Babylon. The pressure on him must have been immense to abandon his old beliefs and adopt those of Babylon. But he stayed true to his faith—in word and in deed.
Many of you know how it feels to defend an unpopular truth. In the Internet slang of today, we talk about getting “flamed” by those who disagree with us. But Daniel wasn’t just risking public ridicule. In Babylon, those who challenged the religious authorities understood what it means—figuratively and literally—to be “flamed.” Just ask Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.2
I don’t know if it was easy for Daniel to be a believer in such an environment. Some people are blessed with a believing heart—for them, faith seems to come as a gift from heaven. But I imagine that Daniel was like many of us who have to work for our testimonies. I’m confident that Daniel spent many hours on his knees praying, laying his questions and fears on the altar of faith, and waiting upon the Lord for understanding and wisdom.
And the Lord did bless Daniel. Though his faith was challenged and ridiculed, he stayed true to what he knew by his own experience to be right.
Daniel believed. Daniel did not doubt.
And then one night, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that troubled his mind. He assembled his team of scholars and counselors and demanded that they describe the dream to him and also reveal the meaning of it.
Of course, they could not. “No one can do what you ask,” they pleaded. But this only made Nebuchadnezzar more furious, and he commanded that all the wise men, magicians, astrologers, and counselors be cut in pieces—including Daniel and the other young students from Israel.
You who are familiar with the book of Daniel know what happened next. Daniel asked Nebuchadnezzar for a little extra time, and he and his faithful companions went to the source of their faith and moral strength. They prayed to God and asked for divine help at this crucial moment in their lives. And “then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a … vision.”3
Daniel, the young boy from a conquered nation—who had been bullied and persecuted for believing in his strange religion—went before the king and revealed to him the dream and its interpretation.
From that day on, as a direct result of his faithfulness to God, Daniel became a trusted counselor to the king, renowned for his wisdom in all of Babylon.
The boy who believed and lived his faith had become a man of God. A prophet. A prince of righteousness.4

Are We like Daniel?

To all of us who bear the holy priesthood of God, I ask, are we like Daniel?
Do we stand loyal to God?
Do we practice what we preach, or are we Sunday Christians only?
Do our daily actions reflect clearly what we claim to believe?
Do we help “the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted”?5
Do we just talk the talk, or do we enthusiastically walk the walk?
Brethren, we have been given much. We have been taught the divine truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We have been entrusted with priesthood authority to help our fellowmen and build up God’s kingdom on earth. We live in a time of great outpouring of spiritual power. We have the fulness of truth. We have priesthood keys to seal on earth and in heaven. Sacred scriptures and teachings of living prophets and apostles are available as never before.
My dear friends, let us not take these things lightly. With these blessings and privileges come great responsibilities and obligations. Let us rise up to them.
The ancient city of Babylon is in ruins. Its splendor is long gone. But Babylon’s worldliness and wickedness live on. Now it falls to us to live as believers in a world of disbelief. The challenge is ours to daily practice the principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and to live true to God’s commandments. We will have to stay calm under peer pressure, not be impressed by popular trends or false prophets, disregard the ridicule of the ungodly, resist the temptations of the evil one, and overcome our own laziness.
Just think about it. How much easier would it have been for Daniel to simply go along with the ways of Babylon? He could have set aside the restrictive code of conduct God had given the children of Israel. He could have feasted on the rich foods provided by the king and indulged in the worldly pleasures of the natural man. He would have avoided ridicule.
He would have been popular.
He would have fit in.
His path might have been much less complicated.
That is, of course, until the day when the king demanded an interpretation of his dream. Then Daniel would have found that he, like the rest of Babylon’s “wise men,” had lost his connection to the true source of light and wisdom.
Daniel passed his test. Ours still continues.

The Courage to Believe

Satan, our adversary, wants us to fail. He spreads lies as part of his effort to destroy our belief. He slyly suggests that the doubter, the skeptic, the cynic is sophisticated and intelligent, while those who have faith in God and His miracles are naive, blind, or brainwashed. Satan will advocate that it is cool to doubt spiritual gifts and the teachings of true prophets.
I wish I could help everyone to understand this one simple fact: we believe in God because of things we know with our heart and mind, not because of things we do not know.  Our spiritual experiences are sometimes too sacred to explain in worldly terms, but that doesn’t mean they are not real.
Heavenly Father has prepared for His children a spiritual feast, offering every kind of exquisite food imaginable—and yet, instead of enjoying these spiritual gifts, the cynics content themselves with observing from a distance, sipping from their cups of skepticism, doubt, and disrespect.
Why would anyone walk through life satisfied with the light from the candle of their own understanding when, by reaching out to our Heavenly Father, they could experience the bright sun of spiritual knowledge that would expand their minds with wisdom and fill their souls with joy?
When you and I talk to people about faith and belief, don’t we often hear, “I wish I could believe the way you do”?
Implied in such a statement is another of Satan’s deceptions: that belief is available to some people but not to others. There is no magic to belief. But wanting to believe is the necessary first step! God is no respecter of persons.6 He is your Father. He wants to speak to you. However, it requires a little scientific curiosity—it requires an experiment upon the word of God—and the exercise of a “particle of faith.”7 It also takes a little humility. And it requires an open heart and an open mind. It requires seeking, in the full meaning of the word. And, perhaps hardest of all, it requires being patient and waiting upon the Lord.
If we make no effort to believe, we are like the man who unplugs a spotlight and then blames the spotlight for not giving any light.
Recently I was surprised and saddened to hear of an Aaronic Priesthood bearer who seemed to take pride in the fact that he had distanced himself from God. He said, “If God reveals Himself to me, then I will believe. Until then, I will find the truth relying on my own understanding and intellect to light the way before me.”
I don’t know this young man’s heart, but I couldn’t help but feel terribly sorry for him. How easily he rejected the gifts the Lord was offering him. This young man had unplugged the spotlight and then seemed self-satisfied in his clever observation that there was no light.
Unfortunately, this seems to be quite a popular attitude today. If we can put the burden of proof on God, we think we can excuse ourselves from taking God’s commandments seriously and from taking responsibility for our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Brethren, let me be clear: there is nothing noble or impressive about being cynical. Skepticism is easy—anyone can do it. It is the faithful life that requires moral strength, dedication, and courage. Those who hold fast to faith are far more impressive than those who give in to doubt when mysterious questions or concerns arise.
But it should not surprise us that faith is not valued by society. The world has a long history of rejecting that which it does not understand. And it has particular trouble understanding things it cannot see. But just because we cannot see something with our physical eyes does not mean it doesn’t exist. Indeed, “there are more things in heaven and earth … than are dreamt of” in our textbooks, scientific journals, and worldly philosophies.8 The universe is filled with wonders profound and astonishing—things that can be comprehended only through spiritual eyes.

The Promise of Belief

When we choose to believe, exercise faith unto repentance, and follow our Savior, Jesus Christ, we open our spiritual eyes to splendors we can scarcely imagine. Thus our belief and faith will grow stronger, and we will see even more.9
Brethren, I testify that even in the toughest of times, the Savior will say to you as He said to an anxious father on a crowded street in Galilee, “Be not afraid, only believe.”10
We can choose to believe.
For in belief, we discover the dawn of light.
We will discover truth.11
We will find peace.12
Because of our belief, we will never hunger, never thirst.13 The gifts of God’s grace will enable us to be true to our faith and will fill our soul like “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”14 We will experience true and lasting joy.15
Therefore, my dear friends, my beloved brethren in the priesthood of God:
Have courage to believe.
Be not afraid, only believe.
Stand with Daniel.
I pray that each one of us—young and old—will find renewed strength, courage, and desire to believe. In the name of our Master, Jesus Christ, amen.
“One Has to Believe”


Pretending to have a belief
only to let the winds disrupt
allowing harsh rains to fall
washing away the belief
having little trust in the Lord
fearing man/woman more
mis-understanding of love
not knowing of forgiveness
failing thus to see the eternal
hearing not the sacred call
feeling not the warmth within
for all of this in our lives
one has to believe an act!

Copyright © 2015 – cji

October 30, 2015




Transitions of colors
profusions of difference
blending fading creating
ever changing scenery
migrating flocks overhead
sounds feelings emotions
autumn in the senses
inviting contrasts awe
blending the colors!

Copyright © 2015 – cji

October 28, 2015


Orlando FL Temple The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Photo taken 9 (nine) miles away)



Entering the sanctuary of the Lord
putting off the worldly ways/time
turning night in brightest day
cleansing oneself into a child
knowing of coming home to Father
entering with His approval and love
their to honor His will and ordinances
good feeling of peace/understanding
then having to depart in leaving
redressing as those of the world
night to day – day now to night
un-wanting to leave but to stay
knowing this cannot be as yet
departing the sanctuary of the Lord!

Copyright © 2015 – cji