Scripture Study: Jesus Christ

In the January 2017 Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, President Russell M. Nelson challenged all that were watching to increase their testimony of the Savior by studying every reverence of Jesus Christ in the topical guide.

He later also blogged about it.

I recently felt inspired to take this challenge, so I created a document that I have printed out to track my progress and to take notes. You can download it here if you would like to use it. -> JESUS CHRIST – Topical Guide

President Nelson left a great promise for those who accept and fulfill this assignment:

How can you increase in your discipleship? I have an invitation for you that will help—it’s an assignment, actually—if you choose to accept it. Commence tonight to consecrate a portion of your time each week to studying everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the Old Testament, for He is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Study His laws as recorded in the New Testament, for He is its Christ. Study His doctrine as recorded in the Book of Mormon, for there is no book of scripture in which His mission and His ministry are more clearly revealed. And study His words as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, for He continues to teach His people in this dispensation.

This may seem like a large assignment, but I encourage you to accept it. If you proceed to learn all you can about Jesus Christ, I promise you that your love for Him, and for God’s laws, will grow beyond what you currently imagine. I promise you also that your ability to turn away from sin will increase. Your desire to keep the commandments will soar. You will find yourself better able to walk away from the entertainment and entanglements of those who mock the followers of Jesus Christ. To assist you, refer to the Topical Guide for references under the topic “Jesus Christ.”

General Conference Trivia – April 2018 (Slideshow)

Last weekend’s general conference was Epic! It was probably my all-time favorite conference in my 40 years of life. I love the changes that were made to the priesthood quorums and the “ministering” program.

We had an extended family family-home-evening planned for after conference. I threw together a Keynote slideshow trivia game. I will post it here in case anyone wants to use it in a family home evening or church activity.

It made for a fun night and a good review of each of the talks in the conference. I will explain how we played so it might give you some ideas, but you can use this however you want.

  1. I told everyone before the conference to take notes because we would be playing a trivia game.
  2. I told everyone they could bring their notes to use in the trivia game.
  3. Asked the two youngest children to come up front. They were team captains and picked their team. It was funny because they were so innocent and they had no strategy. Grandpa – who had 18 pages of notes, was the last pick.
  4. For each question, the teams could talk about it and look at their notes, then the team captain gave or approved the final answer.
  5. The team captain also kept track of their team’s points.
  6. I gave one point for each correct answer. There were also a couple of bonus points in the game that kept the score close.
  7. If a team didn’t know the answer or gave the wrong answer, I gave the other team an opportunity to steal the point.
  8. In the end, the losing team had to serve dessert to the winning team before they ate dessert.

Here is the link to download the Keynote slideshow:

I exported it to Powerpoint. You may want to test things and make sure they work right:

I converted the Powerpoint to a Google presentation also:

Vision & Miracles of Iohani Wolfgramm

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On May 7, 2000, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a CES fireside in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on the topic of miracles. This fireside was later published in the June 2001 Ensign

Among the miracles he talked about was raising someone from the dead. He prefaced the two stories he shared with:

Continue reading Vision & Miracles of Iohani Wolfgramm

Baby Steps for Emergency Preparedness

As I’ve recently felt an obsessive urgency to get “prepared”, I’ve often thought about the best way to go about it.

Do I pay off all my consumer debts first, or focus on getting a year supply of food first? Should I get camping gear or more water storage? What guidelines do I follow for getting a year supply of food?

That’s just a sampling of the questions going on in my head.

Being a long-time Dave Ramsey fan I put together a list of baby steps I thought seemed like a good idea to go about it. I struggled with some of the questions above as well as others such as, where does a 72-hour kit fall in?

Continue reading Baby Steps for Emergency Preparedness

Plant Your Fruit Trees

I’ve been on this kick lately reading about signs of the second coming and the natural disasters, wars, diseases, etc. that will plague the Earth before the second coming.

It’s pretty obvious many of these things are going on around us. This morning I was reading in Ezekiel 37-39 about wars. It mentioned the Black Sea. I was checking out the countries bordering the Black Sea. I noticed one of them was Turkey.

I then read about how Turkey is involved in wars and sending munitions to Libyan rebels.

I then turned back to my gospel library app. I had a tab open that we had read from in elders quorum when when had a lesson in January about setting goals. But this tab wasn’t on the highlighted areas regarding goal setting. Instead, the part of the talk that was on my screen was very relevant to my thoughts this morning.

As I listen to all of the doom and gloom that is being broadcast in the newspapers and on television, the thought runs through my mind: How grateful I am that I didn’t stop trying to do what was right in my life when I heard on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, that America had been attacked and war was imminent. I was a little younger than you are, when on that fateful day I came home from priesthood meeting and walked into my home to learn from my father that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor. I thought: What is the future, what are the possibilities, what is going to be left for me? All of these kinds of thoughts rolled through my mind as the United States of America rolled up its sleeves to move full scale into World War II.

That was a terrible war! There were terrible things that happened, and for a long time everything seemed to be negative. It was discouraging to many, I suppose. But the world did not come to an end–it went on. And I would like to suggest to you tonight that you do not hold back from living a full life, and from working hard to accomplish your goals in life because some people think that great calamities will soon come upon the earth. There have been some who have predicted earthquakes and destruction of all kinds to be upon us momentarily. The Savior himself tells us about many devastating times that lie ahead. (See Matt. 24.) But none of us knows exactly when those times are going to occur. So I would suggest that you follow the advice that I once heard Elder Boyd K. Packer give. He said something like this: “Plant your fruit trees. Cultivate them, fertilize them, watch them grow, and enjoy the fruit thereof. If the end comes during the process, so what? Do not deprive yourself of enjoying the fruits of your labors by living in fear of the world’s problems that lie ahead.”

Do Things That Make a Difference by Elder M. Russell Ballard

My Personal Take Away

I need to continue to do my best to follow the council of the prophets and prepare by getting out of debt and building a 1 year supply of food and water and other emergency supplies for my family.

But it is not requisite that I run faster than I have strength. It is also not requisite that I stop living life to fullest and enjoying hobbies and family activities.

I can continue to see the signs all around me without getting obsessed looking for those signs.

My Thoughts on Visions of Glory by John Pontius

Visions of GloryThe first time I heard about Visions of Glory was from my father-in-law. I’ll admit, I pretty much dismissed it. My thoughts: It’s about a man’s dream or vision. It’s not prophecy or revelation. That comes from the prophet.

I won’t go into what the book is about as I think that can be covered elsewhere. I’ll simply share my thoughts from having read (listed to) it.

How I came to Read Visions of Glory

My father-in-law had actually recommended a few books by John Pontius. I never took the time to read them though. It wasn’t until he loaned me his copy of Journey to the Veil and I read a few excerpts that I got much more interested in John Pontius and his writings. But that is another story I’ll blog about later.

Ultimately, after getting to know John Pontius better I became far more interested in Visions of Glory and decided to purchase the audiobook.

Initial Thoughts

I thought this whole book was fascinating. I started listening to it alone, but my wife joined in and listed with me on a long trip from Salt Lake City to Boise, Idaho. It took the whole trip there and back to complete the book from the point where I had left off.

While I found it fascinating, I really didn’t want to be deceived. I did more research to hear others’ thoughts on it. The man who had the visions remains anonymous. He is referred to as “Spencer” throughout the book.

After reading the book I could certainly understand why he wanted to remain anonymous and I couldn’t argue with his reasoning.

I found some people take his vision very literally, while others completely dismiss it.

My Current Thoughts

Throughout the book, I didn’t notice very many glaring contradictions to what I have learned throughout my life in the church. I don’t think the book is perfect and I don’t expect it to be. I believe as Joseph Smith stated the the Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth.

But I still find his visions and interpretations of his visions fascinating. Are they literal? I don’t know. I believe they possibly could be. But Spencer reiterates often that this vision was to teach him and was for him. We may gain insights from it, but we should seek our light and knowledge through study and prayer and seeking to learn by the Spirit.

If the events described in the book from Spencer’s visions are literal, then what? Well, it makes me want to be more prepared spiritually and temporally. It makes me want to get things in order. These are good things that the prophets have been encouraging us to do for years.

What bad could come from it? I suppose one could make all their decisions based on the information in this book and ignore the Spirit and the prophets of the church. But it is emphasized by Spencer that this is not what we are to do. So a careful study of this book should not lead you down this path. Instead, if you really believe this book, I can only see it bringing you closer to Christ.

A few scriptures come to mind. First, Mark 9:38-40 where the Savior essential tells his disciples than a man working miracles in His name is on His side.

And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

For he that is not against us is on our part.

For as much as Spencer testifies of the Savior and the restored gospel, you would be hard pressed to say he is doing more harm than good.

Second, in the Old Testament as Joel is speaking about the last days, in Joel 2:28-29:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

We are basically told here that it will not just be prophets, seers and revelators that will be allowed to see visions. Yes, they are called as special witnesses to testify of Christ and lead his Church. But they have told us we are all entitled to personal revelation.

So if you find the events leading up the second coming of the Savior a fascinating topic, I highly recommend this book. It deals with more than just that – other stuff that I found very interesting. I still ponder on this book and feel it has brought be closer to the Savior and his teaching. Therefore, I would say this is a good book and I highly recommend it to anyone willing to read it.

Resurrecting this Blog

I recently took the time to clean out all the comment spam on this blog and I’ve decided to try to bring it back to life. I’ve also removed the dated theme and resorted to bland default for now, but hopefully I can give it a little TLC soon.

Part of my inspiration was reading a book last year called Journey to the Veil by John Pontius. It is essentially a collection of blog posts he started writing after he learned he had cancer and wanted to preserve stories from his life for his children.

On top of that I have a goal to write 50 blog posts in 2015 amount my various blogs. (I also maintain a personal blog and a personal finance blog.) I’m starting to think that 50 was not very ambitious, but it is a start.

As I have been adding more spiritual books to my reading library lately I often have thoughts that I would like to share and discuss. Hopefully this can become a forum for everyone to participate in uplifting gospel discussions.

Confidence Virtue and Faith

иконографияПравославни иконикухниI recently got an email from an internet marketing guru and the subject was something to the point of What is better, confidence or competence?

The article explained a disagreement he had with a friend. His friend said competence was better to while the author disagreed and gave several reasons why. I tend to agree with the author.

It really invoked a lot of pondering for me. I thought about job interviews in the past where I have been asked to rate myself in various areas. I always find interviews hard because I don’t like to toot my own horn so to speak – especially to strangers, but you pretty much have to do just that if you want any chance of getting a job.

Another instance I might give as an example is when a small business wanted to replace every computer in their office and have them all networked, they approached me and asked if I wanted to do it. At the time I could have really used the money. But ultimately due to my lack of confidence I turned the job down. I believe I was competent, but didn’t have the exact experience to prove it. I just didn’t want to mess up on such a large scale (relatively speaking). Of course experience breeds confidence. I have since built an networked a number of computers and I actually maintain that office network now and I have been asked to replace each of those computers again after 7 years. I recently upgraded their network and fix various computer problems for them. Now I’m totally confident in my abilities.

I guess the point of that story is that even though I lacked the experience, if I would have had confidence in myself that I could figure out any roadblocks I may have encountered, I’m quite positive I could have done the job and I would have gained the experience much sooner.

I’ve noticed a similar pattern in my life. I tend to have a habit of self-sabotage. I’ve started a number of web site projects that I hope will bring a measure of income. I have a bad habit of getting about 70% complete and then I start convincing myself that there is too much competition, or people will not want to pay for the service, or whatever it might be that the site will fail even before I get it off the ground and have the ability to even try to market it. I then move on to the next big idea I have and start the process all over again.

I don’t want to share any goals here because I recently read an article stating that when we share our goals, we are less likely to complete them. The article made sense to me. But all this pondering I feel has helped me achieve greater results recently and I hope the trend continues.

In the process of thinking about this, a scripture came to mind. In D&C 121:45 it says:

Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

That scripture leads to me believe that if we let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly we will grow in confidence.

The Lord has also said,

There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

So if we want a certain blessing, we just need to find the law associated with that blessing and strive to live that law. So I wonder, if we want the blessing of confidence, can we abide by the law of virtue? If so, we can bind the Lord and he will grant us that blessing.

I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

And what is confidence really? Is it any more than faith, or faith in one’s self. I’m starting to get the feeling that it is faith in the Lord that where ever we may have incompetence, he will make up the difference and that leads to the confidence that we truly can do anything that is right and worthy of the effort.

General Conference Packets – Thank You Beehives!

This morning our 6 year old daughter Gracie was whining and complaining because she didn’t want to watch General Conference and my wife, Rachel didn’t want the kids just playing in the toy room and fighting the whole time. Gracie was getting pretty dramatic about it. Just before it started the doorbell rang. It was a beehive girl in the ward. She dropped off 3 packets that had a conference activity book, bingo game, and a pack of M&M’s. It was seriously so cool! There was a little note from the Beehive group saying “we hope you enjoy general conference.” I was not only impressed that they did the project but they were out delivering them in cold, windy, snowy weather. Seriously, it was really cool. Gracie saw them and got really excited. Our 4 year old son, Gehrig was excited too. We didn’t have a problem keeping them in the room after that. Gracie was listening for words fill up her bingo card with her M&M and Gehrig was coloring in his workbook and drawing his favorite apostle, Elder Uchtdorf. Nolan, our 18 month old was devouring his M&Ms. Those young women really saved us! I think even Rachel really enjoyed it. There was a page for each apostle and activities to do while they were speaking. She used Nolan’s packet and followed along and made notes in it. It really was not just for kids I guess!

Motorola EM1000R 20-Mile 2-Way FRS/GMRS Radio, Pair

So I’ve recently been called in my ward as the emergency preparedness specialist. In our neighborhood we a divided up into blocks with block captains. In the event of an emergency, each block captain will have a set of 2 way radios for communication. I’m not a block captain, but thought it might would be a good idea to have some 2 way radios on hand for emergency anyway. Plus, they can come in handy for camping trips (and maybe even shopping trips, hehe)

Knowing nothing about them, other than hearing someone who uses them frequently and owning several of them say "only get Motorola" I went off to Amazon. I decided on the EM1000R model. It was the second highest seller in the category (first highest Motorola) and the only ones with a 5 star review (granted there are only 5 reviews so far).

What I like about them is that they have a charger stand and can use rechargeable NIMH batteries, or 3 AAA Alkaline batteries. So I can keep them charged all the time and store some AAA batteries for emergencies. I’m ordering today. If I don’t post an update free free to drop me a line once I get them if you want to know more as I learn more.