Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Knowledge of Good and Evil

I have often wondered about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Didn't Adam and Eve already have some knowledge of good and evil? They knew it was good to obey and bad to disobey. Upon eating the fruit they did gain some knowledge, such as knowing it was shameful to be naked, but did not gain all knowledge of good and evil. So how was the tree a tree of knowledge of good and evil if it didn't endow them with very much knowledge?

This morning while pondering that question, the Spirit revealed to me that it wasn't called the tree of knowledge of good and evil because eating the fruit would immediately endow them with that knowledge. Instead, eating the fruit would enable them to experience mortality and spiritual death and thereby learn for themselves what is good and what is evil. This life then became a probationary state where man would exercise his agency to choose between good and evil as he learned to discern between them.

Why must we be mortal to learn good from evil? We send our children away from home so that they may mature and learn to make decisions for themselves. So too, God sent us away to learn on our own.

But what role does a mortal body play in this?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I'm Worse Than Evil

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? - Matthew 7:9-11
I have a son. He just turned three. He asks me for many things. Sometimes I help him. Sometimes I don't let him have what he wants because I want him to learn that you can't have everything you want. I do that too often. I almost take pleasure in it. I'm worse than evil.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Losing Yourself in Service to Others

I usually look forward to Saturday being my day of relaxation and self-indulgence. I rarely get much self-indulgence so Saturdays more often turn into grouchy days. But a recent Saturday was different.

In the morning I woke up early to weed the strawberry patch. I went in for breakfast just in time to inhale some toast before running off to help a family move. Before and after lunch I installed our window air-conditioner unit and rototilled some land. Then I went with my son to watch grandpa hook a disc mower up to the tractor and prepare for mowing (grease, pump up tires, check fluids, sharpen blades, etc). At 3 PM was a baptism followed by a visit to a friend who I haven't seen at church for a while. After dinner I went with five other men to help someone else load furniture into a U-Haul trailer. I spent a little more time in the strawberry patch followed by a brief birthday celebration then bedtime for the children.

In the evening someone mentioned their irritation with another person's actions. Usually I would be irritated too, especially since Saturdays are my grumpy days, but I wasn't that night. I sat there thinking about how great I felt. I wasn't worried about anything. Nothing was getting under my skin. I had no problems.

How did that happen?

I spent the entire day working and serving others. I did nothing for myself except eat. I proud of how productive I had been and I was filled with charity. I remembered that I'm not the only person with needs.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. - Matthew 16:25
As I listed to someone voice their irritation that night, I knew the antidote they needed was to lose themselves in serving others--I had just proven to myself that it works.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Free Agency and the Problem of Evil

I was thinking this morning about the elect of God and how some denominations believe that the elect are chosen. You can't blame them for that because the scriptures appear to teach it. But that would invalidate their free agency. A husband might say the he chose his wife, but we know it's more involved than that if only because the wife has a choice too. In the same way, God does not force some to be saved and prevent others from being saved. He would love for all of us to be saved. But we choose for ourselves whether salvation is something we want.

While pondering that, I realized that free agency solves the problem of evil. God didn't create good spirits and bad spirits. He created innocent spirits with the gift of agency. Using that agency, some made choices that corrupted them while others made choices that purified them.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Robes Washed White in the Blood of the Lamb

These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. - Revelation 7:14
And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. - 3 Nephi 27:19
I want to repent of all my sins. I want to be clean. I have no egregious sins, but I have plenty of small ones.

How do I do this? The hardest part seems to be identifying the small sins.

My wife and I have been holding a daily contest for almost two weeks now to see who can say the least number of negative things. I have learned that it takes a lot of time and work to overcome small weaknesses.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


On one of our first dates, my wife asked me, "What are you passionate about?" I responded by saying, "Nothing." She didn't like that answer. I've had to defend my stance ever since.

Passion used to have a negative connotation for me. I associated it with dogma, ignorance, and intolerance. Passion was the the only thing that the far right, the far left, and the Middle East had in common. Even the scriptures counseled us to "bridle all [our] passions."

I'm a little wiser now. I see that passion can also be good. I feel passionately about God, Jesus Christ, and my family. I have a passion for truth, excellence, justice, and mercy.

Friday, November 21, 2014

How I Met My Wife

At the Vatican Summit on Marriage, President Henry B Eyring shared the story of how he met his wife.
As the meeting ended, I saw in the crowd a young woman. I had never seen her before, but the feeling came over me that she was the best person I had ever seen. That evening she walked into our church meeting in Cambridge. Another thought came to my mind with great power: “If I could only be with her, I could become every good thing I ever wanted to be.” I said to the man sitting next to me, “Do you see that girl? I would give anything to marry her.” We were married a year after I first saw her. - President Henry B Eyring
That sounds a lot like the story of how I met my wife.

Shortly after returning to BYU from my mission in Chile, I looked out my kitchen window and saw a young lady across the way in her living. I did not know who she was. I could not see her face because her back was towards me while she talked to her roommates. But I felt a light radiating from her and something inside of me leaped for joy. I knew she was the type of woman that I wanted to be with for eternity. We too were married one year later.