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Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Only Path -Opposition in all Things


I was sitting at work when I received the call.

Key Bank had just been robbed. Shots were fired. The gunman escaped. Being part of the crisis team it was my turn to go and do the debriefing. Within a few minutes I was in the bank parking lot.  The police and SWAT team were still there investigating the crime scene. I identified myself and was ushered under the yellow tape to the upstairs conference room. The bank employees were waiting. On my way my escort showed me one of the bullet holes in the ceiling.
There is a process in psychology referred to as "normalization." Normalization refers to a psychological process through which traumatic or negative experiences come to be seen as "normal" and viewed 'natural'.  As people "normalize" a negative experience and learn what to expect - they become more comfortable about their future and have more confidence in their ability to cope.

In this case, the bank employees just experienced a bank robbery. Post traumatic symptoms are likely. With "normalization" - knowing what to expect, these negative symptoms (anxiety, fear, hyper vigilance etc. etc.) will be lessened and the employees will not be as fearful or anxious about their future.

I would like to do the same for you by "normalizing" what each of us can expect during our earthly probation.


In the gospel there are numerous words characterizing opposition. They include: chasten, trial, tribulation, tried, adversity,and testOpposition is typically viewed as painful and unwanted and viewed as unexpected or out of the ordinary. Some actually believe their life should be free of "opposition"  - particularly if they live "righteously."

This is NOT true!

"For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in ALL things." ( 2 Nephi 2:11; D&C 136:31). You want to lose weight - there will be opposition. You want to work on your marriage - there will be opposition. You want to pay a full tithe - there will be opposition. You want to save money - there will be opposition.  etc. etc.

Helaman, son of Alma the Younger, was a leader of the 2,000 faithful and valiant stripling soldiers. (See Alma 53:20–21; Alma 56:46.) …. How many of these young "righteous" stripling soldiers fighting in God's Army were wounded?  
All of them!

"neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds." Alma 57:25

Don't act surprise when your car breaks down; You have more bills than money; You caught your husband looking at porn; You couldn't make it to the temple like you planned; Someone you love dies; etc. etc. AND for Heaven's sake don't say "WHY ME?"  or the other popular one "WHAT DID I DO WRONG TO DESERVE THIS?" 

SURE some negative experiences / opposition result from sin. But, the type of opposition I'm talking about has nothing to do with sin, it has to do with LOVE. That's right - The Plan of Salvation and how much God loves YOU!  (D & C 95:1; Hebrew 12: 5-11).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that it is a false idea to believe that the saints will escape all the judgments—disease, pestilence, war, etc.—of the last days; consequently, it is an unhallowed principle to say that these adversities are due to transgression. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 162.)
Hence enduring "fiery trials" of opposition and adversity should be viewed as normal and expected. Peter said, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:" (1 Peter 4:12). Trials are not some strange thing. The fiery trial is what is suppose to happen! Expect it! Welcome it! Glory in it!

Although we have no choice about experiencing opposition, we do have a choice of how we experience it. Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained:
"Our seeming downfalls can be a means of developing our strengths. Adversity will be a constant or occasional companion for each of us throughout our lives. We cannot avoid it. The only question is how we will react to it. Will our adversities be stumbling blocks or stepping stones?" (BYU Devotional and Fireside Speeches, 1994-95 [Provo, Utah: Publication Graphics, 1995], p. 83).

I often wonder why we cannot understand this simple truth: opposition comes and you either endure and receive the reward OR give-up and experience despair. 

What IS the "Reward" when we choose to faithfully endure opposition?
You ONLY receive the "reward" if you choose the path of faithful endurance. The Lord applies this principle to ALL - individuals, families, and nations. Now here's the take away:

Removing opposition, adversity, trials, chastening, etc etc
 from someone's life REMOVES the ONLY pathway
for them to receive their "reward." 

Satan knows the greatest damage caused by government entitlement programs, parents spoiling children etc etc (Receiving the "Reward" without the "Opposition and Endurance") - isn't the financial cost, it's the character flaws that are created within the recipient.

Opposition + Endurance = Reward!

There isn't any more than that!

Joseph clearly understood this concept when he said "I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation" (D&C 127:2) because he knew the "reward" for faithful endurance. How else could Joseph had gone like a "Lamb to slaughter?" (D&C 135:4

He knew where the path would lead!

As with the bank employees, I have tried to "normalize" what you and I can expect in our future earth life and how adversity and faithful endurance are essential if we wish to return to Heavenly Father's presence.

"Normalize" how you think about opposition.  Recognize that each of us will experience adversity during our earthly probation. It is the refiner's fire "set" because of a loving Father's love and confidence.

Like our "Loving Heavenly Father" we should love and have sufficient confidence toward our children (and others) enough to recognize the needed blessings of opposition/adversity in their lives. Preventing and removing adversity (trials/tribulations/opposition etc. etc.) from another's life can interfere with God's plan and jeopardize their eternal progression.

dr rick
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Lion Sleeps Tonight- NOT!

Satan is a Roaring Lion

In 1 Peter 5:8 Peter warns,

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

We have all seen in the movies a lion hanging out near a water hole and along comes a zebra. The next thing you see is a lion jumping out of nowhere and in a matter of seconds the lion sinks his teeth into the prey. It is all over for that zebra.

Like the zebra, Satan is seeking to devour us-anyway possible.


Who has not heard or felt the temptations of Satan? Sometimes his voice sounds so reasonable and his message so easy to justify. Satan,the hungry lion, is checking everything out. He is watching us. He is looking for vulnerability, weakness. He is looking for his next prey to bring down. Satan and his angels never take a vacation - not a month, not a week, not a day, not an hour, not even a nanosecond.

"Satan has had great success with this gullible generation. As a consequence, literally hosts of people have been victimized by him and his angels" (James E. Faust, “The Great Imitator,” Ensign, Nov. 1987)

Here are some examples


First experience with porn-Age 11
The demand is so great pornography, on the internet and in general, is so omnipresent you can scarcely avoid it if that is your aim.Internet pornography statistics may seem to be as incomprehensible as the amount of pornography itself, but certain research and news organizations have taken the time to do the math when it comes to the facts about pornography consumption. The statistics are truly staggering. On average, a child will have their first experience with online porn at age 11.

Colorado and Washington States legalized marijuana
For the first time, two American states have legalized the recreational use and sale of marijuana. Voters in Colorado and Washington States had the opportunity to make history by voting on and passing initiatives that would legalize the recreational use and sale of marijuana in their respective states. Massachusetts voters joined 17 states and the District of Columbia in electing to allow medical use of the drug.

Maine, Maryland and Washington approved same-sex marriage
Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approved same-sex marriage on an election night that jubilant gay rights advocates called a historic turning point, the first time that marriage for gay men and lesbians has been approved at the ballot box. In Minnesota, in another first, voters rejected a proposal to amend the State Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, a measure that has been enshrined in the constitutions of 30 states.

Supreme Court Upholds Pro-Abortion
The Supreme Court has issued a 5-4 decision essentially upholding the Obamacare law that pro-life groups regard as the biggest expansion of abortion and abortion funding since Roe v. Wade.

See: Satan Exposed


Pay attention to how the Prophet Joseph described Satan's power when he prayed to know which church to join:
I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. . . . Not to an imaginary ruin but [by] the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being (Joseph Smith 2:15, 16).
I too have a personal testimony of the Satan and his "marvelous power".

During the last couple of weeks as part of my work, I've been to jails in Vernal, Provo, Logan, Weber, and Salt Lake  - In addition I visited the Utah State Hospital Forensic Unit. For years I've seen evil up front and personal-usually behind bars.  In recent days I've visited with an elderly gentleman who stabbed his wife to death, a young man who raped a child and so forth and so on... Most the people I visit are members of the LDS Church. I know of no crime that hasn't been committed by a Mormon who had attended Church on the previous Sunday! Satan, the Lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour. 

"The last days will certainly be more challenging to young disciples than simply coping with sharp economic downturns. … In the very, very last days, for example, He will display His mercy in an unusual way: “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:22). (Neal Maxwell “These Are Your Days,” Ensign, Oct 2004)
Why? Because the "Lion" will "Devour" them.
"I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now. Words of profanity, vulgarity, and blasphemy are heard everywhere. Unspeakable wickedness and perversion were once hidden in dark places; now they are in the open, even accorded legal protection… The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace. I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better. … These are days of great spiritual danger .... (Boyd K. Packer The One Pure Defense: Address to CES Religious Educators • 6 February 2004 • Salt Lake Tabernacle)
As you can tell after many years in psych wards, jails, prisons, other institutions and attending an occasional funeral --- I've clearly lost my ability to sugar coat  what I feel is TRUE. (Really, 30 years ago I use to be excellent at building rapport and patient and kind in bringing a client along. I had great bedside manners. Somewhere over the years I'm pretty sure I lost that. Perhaps because it is the "11th hour" perhaps because of the "Strength of the Lion" - I'm still debating if that is good or bad.) Nevertheless, today I want to speak "plainly" about these issues assuming at least one of you - I care about - may successfully fight "the lion." 

To learn more about Satan's methods "to devour" you see: "The Safest Road to Hell..."

Enoch was shown the power of Satan upon earth:
And there came generation upon generation; and Enoch was high and lifted up, even in the bosom of the Father, and of the Son of Man; and behold, the power of Satan was upon all the face of the earth. And he saw angels descending out of heaven; and he heard a loud voice saying: Wo, wo be unto the inhabitants of the earth. And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.(Moses 7:24-26)

"Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan..." D & C 10:5
Then help the ones you love to do the same.

dr rick
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Spouse Is NOT My #1 Priority

There I am sitting in a Marriage and Family Class during Sunday School.
I could hardly stand it... I was steaming inside.

The instructor with enthusiasm instructed the class "Your number one priority in life is your spouse." He followed this by methodically inviting several couples in attendance to share examples of why that statement was "True." Of course the class members shared stories supporting the believe that their spouse was the number one priority even more important than themselves. The class wanted me to believe A HAPPY LIFE was dependent on me being "Selfless" in my marriage and "always placing my wife, Karla's needs and wants,  - above my own."

By now sitting there - I couldn't even think straight. (Hot Cognition we call it.) Over all my years of counseling people accepting this belief has caused so many problems, it's not even funny. :(  Nevertheless, I felt driven to silence. I had already disrupted the class with an earlier statement. As hard as it was I kept my mouth shut-respecting the teacher and the class-believing the message being sent was very misunderstood!
I'm guessing most in the class HEARD AND UNDERSTOOD THE MESSAGE to say something like:
There are many activities that require attention in our lives including work, church calling, children,  marriage etc. If you are going to be HAPPY - from ALL these demands - you need to select your wife FIRST! 
In addition, this message carries with it the assumption that it is true for EVERYONE, REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES, and is to be followed NOW!!!  (If you want to be happy.)
Here is what I've seen resulting when people believe this message:
  • people who are single or divorced feel guilty because they don't have a spouse and therefore can't achieve the number one priority it takes to be happy;
  • married people who have always placed their spouse first despite personal needs and inadequate self-care are depressed and discouraged; and
  • those married to someone with special circumstances (e.g. mental illness, addiction, narcissistic etc.) have placed their spouse first and they're not happy and the marriage is getting worse plus they are depressed and discouraged.

Sure I understand that if I am married there are occasions when placing the desires of my wife above my own is essential to a successful marriage. For example, after listening to the Saturday Greenhouse Show Karla gets plenty of ideas for our yard. Catching the grass in a bag and removing it from the lawn is just one. Well after years of mowing the lawn -mulching and leaving the clippings- I changed because it was important to her. (For sure not because it was what I desired.)
I get it. Give-and-take in a relationship usually builds healthy successful relationships (with my wife, with my kids, with my boss etc) and as a result I will likely be happier. Marriage is incredibly important "The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan." (The Family A Proclamation To The World).
Achieving balance and maintaining the right priorities from time to time have been a struggle for all of us.  We need priorities. Our priorities determine what we seek in life. They give us direction on how to live our lives. What am I suppose to do on Saturday afternoon when there are several demands on my time and all these demands are GOOD? - But I can only do ONE. 
Direction from SCRIPTURE
“But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt 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” (Matthew 22:36–39).
Direction from PROPHETS
"When we put God FIRST, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities. We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives." (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Great Commandment—Love the Lord,” Ensign, May 1988)

“Now, the most important principle I can share: Anchor your life in Jesus Christ your redeemer. Make your Eternal Father and his Beloved Son the most important priority in your life, more important than life itself, more important than a beloved companion or children or anyone on earth. Make their will your central desire. Then ALL that you need for happiness will come to you.   (Richard G. Scott  The Power of Correct Principles” Ensign, May 1993)


There can only be one "FIRST" priority.

Whenever you or I become so preoccupied with another person (including our spouse) or activity  that we neglect our personal relationship with Our Heavenly Father we have failed in our eternal pursuit. 
"… if we do not choose the kingdom of God first, it will make little difference in the long run what we have chosen instead of it." (Focus and Priorities, Dallin H. Oaks April 2001) 
The message of placing Your personal relationship with God FIRST is directed at EVERYONE, REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES, and it should be worked on NOW!!
Eternal principles work that way.

Ponder what your life has been like this past week.
Do something this week that reflects God is First in your life.

Thanks for listening... I needed to get that off my chest.... again.
dr rick
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Other similar blogs:
Not Enough of Me
My Spouse Is NOT My #1 Priority
Easy as 1,2,3...Unless an Angel tells you otherwise
The Gift - Between God And I

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Satan Exposed

I was in Idaho doing a Youth Fireside this past week. As part of the presentation I asked several of the youth to DRAW A PICTURE OF SATAN. I gave them a blank piece of paper and a crayon. Here are a sample of the pictures from these 12-18 year olds. EACH YOUTH asked to draw the picture, depicted Satan with a body, with horns, a pointed tail, and a pitch fork.

(Where did they learn this nonsense anyway?)

So What? You Might Ask.
Can you imagine the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers not having scouted out their opponents before the World Series. <Looks like the Tigers didn't do a very good job. ;)>   Or  the Atlanta Falcons not checking out the Houston Texans before the game. They wouldn't think of playing a big game without have scouted their opponent. They must know each of the opposing team's members- strengths and weaknesses, if they are to be victorious.

The same is true for you and I.

Well in the pre-existence there was sides chosen for the big game-Earth Life. On one side Satan and on the other side Jesus. What's at stake? Our eternal souls.  If we fail to recognize "Satan" and his evil DEVICES we are in trouble. As Paul said,
"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." (2 Cor. 2:11)
Only Satan would want us believe he does not exist, saying to us:
"I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance." (2 Nephi 28:22).
He’s not a cartoon character. Satan does not have horns, cloven hoofs, a pointed tail or carry a pitch fork! He does not have a physical body!!!! Satan is as much a personal individual spirit being as you and I. He is a guy with thoughts and feelings.
"We Latter-day Saints need not be, and we must not be, deceived by the sophistries of men concerning the reality of Satan. There is a personal devil, and we had better believe it" (Marion G. Romney, “Satan, the Great Deceiver,” Ensign, Feb. 2005, pgs. 52–57).
So What Is Satan's Game Plan?


To DESTROY OUR AGENCY (Moses 4:3).  Through lies and deceptions.

Look at some of the words used to describe Satan's offensive plan.

“And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will (Moses 4:3–4).

Satan has the “power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you (2 Ne. 2:29);  And

“He grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance  (2 Ne.28:19–22).

Conclusion: The consequence of sin as "Bondage".  (D&C 84:49-51; Morm. 8:31).
(This helps us understand how "addiction" works.)

To learn more about Satan and his methods see: The Lion Sleeps Tonight- NOT! ; The Safest Road to Hell...; and Satan's Finest Tool.

So Now What?
As much as Satan would like to deceive us in believing he does not exist and he has no real plan, he cannot—as long as we are faithful to the teachings God has given.

These are the last days. We cannot afford to become casual in our worship!

My advice - realize there is a real Satan who has an organized and powerful offense. Keep the commandments of God the best we can. By so doing, we can usually keep ourselves free from the bondage of sin.

WE NEED NOT become paralyzed with fear of Satan's power. He can have no power over us unless we permit it.  As we learn more about the enemy (Satan) we realize he is really a coward, and if we stand firm, he will retreat. The Apostle James said:
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." ( James 4:7)
Ask someone you love to draw a picture of Satan.
Teach them.

          Satan's Special Forces
          The Lion Sleeps Tonight- NOT!
          Pleasures of Sin
          Successful Sinners

          I can't stop. Help! Fall Season of sin/addiction
          Viewing Leads to Doing Winter Season of sin/addiction
          The Safest Road to Hell... -- "Gradual Process" used by Satan 
          The Safest Road to Heaven...-- Gradual Process" used by God

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