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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Missing Christmas

We all know the stories of the angels, shepherds and wise men celebrating the First Christmas with Mary, Joseph and Christ.

But do you recall ... who missed the First Christmas?

After all the years waiting and hearing of prophesies about Christ's birth ... the following still missed that First Christmas.

THE INN KEEPER
Speaking of Mary it says; "And she brought forth her first born son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloth and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:7) The inn keeper missed Christmas.  He was face-to-face with a young pregnant woman and husband ready to give birth to the Son of God. He shut the door. He had a busy Inn to care for. Christmas was right in front of him, but he missed it.

The inn keeper didn't recognize Christ or the occasion.

THE KING
Unlike the Inn Keeper, King Herod knew who Jesus was and what He would become.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Jud├Ža in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (Matthew 2:1-3)
Why was King Herod "troubled"?

He was the King of the Jews.  There was no room for two kings in Jerusalem.  He was threatened. That First Christmas Eve King Herod remained in his mansion plotting Jesus' death.  The birth place of the new "King of the Jews" was only a short walk away.

King Herod was more interested in glory and power.

THE SANHEDRIN
The chief priests, scribes, and wise men were the religious leaders at the time. They obeyed "the Law." They knew all the scriptures. They went to church every week. That's why King Herod sent for them -  "Then Herod when he had privly called the wise men and inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared and he sent them to Bethlehem..." (Matthew 2:7) They quoted Micah 5:2 to King Herod. The Sanhedrin knew about Jesus- who He was and the impact he would have on the world. They, like King Herod, never took the short 3 or 4 mile walk to Bethlehem. Having the Messiah was no big deal to them. They were already righteous -All is well in Zion.

The Sanhedrin was indifferent-Christ's birth didn't really matter.
 

Look at your own life.
Are you going to miss this Christmas? 

The Nativity is one of my favorite Christmas videos. Press David Bowman's newest piece of art "Love" to watch this short video.

http://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2012-11-2500-the-nativity?lang=eng

CHALLENGE

May we all make the journey to Bethlehem
in spirit, taking with us a tender, caring
heart as our gift to the Savior.
(Thomas S. Monson "The Real Joy of Christmas" 2013 Christmas Broadcast)

dr rick
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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Worth vs. Worthiness

I'm asked regularly questions like:
"dr rick, how can you even stand to be in the same room with that guy...
...who just killed the bank teller,
...who just molested the neighbor girls,
...who just kidnapped and raped the store clerk?"
I explain the difference between "worth" and "worthiness."


One day ... Joe staggered to Church.
Joe had been a client for several months. However, recently he had been homeless. His parents and siblings were active in the Church. They never missed a meeting and always sat on the front row. Joe began drinking in his early teens and began drifting away from the Church. By 17 he was addicted to cigarettes and alcohol.  Joe wanted nothing to do with the Church. He always smelled like cigarettes.  His parents like the parents of Alma, prayed for their son to return to church. Several years later, one Fast Sunday he came back. A younger sibling nudged dad to look at Joe who just walked into the back of he chapel. Dad and Mom smiled with contentment at one another. Later in the testimony meeting Joe began walking towards the pulpit. The parents noticed he was staggering. Their heart sunk in despair. He reached the pulpit. His slurred words ended as he passed out! He was drunk. He fell to the floor at the foot of the Bishop. 

Joe's sins stunk.

One day ... Brigham drove his chopper to Church.
Brigham was a young adult I met while doing a Fireside on addiction up in the Tri-City area of Washington. He sat in the back. He stood out because of his long shoulder length hair- with a strand of purple. His ears were gauged and face had several piercings. And believe me, no one could miss his tattoos. Brigham's dad was in the Stake Presidency.  After the fireside, I met Brigham in the parking lot. His forearm had a very noticeable tattoo of a naked lady. He expressed a desire to return to church activity. After we visited he put on his Nazi helmet and leathers and rode off on his chopper motorcycle.

Brigham's sins were an eyesore.

One day ... The Smith Family drove their Dodge Caravan to Church.
The two younger boys were dressed in suits and carried their personal triple combinations- interesting enough the youngest boy was obviously too young to even read. The two girls were beautifully dressed in home made dresses and hair bows.  Mom looked like she stepped out of LDSModestDress.com (I made that up.) and Dad like he was ready to talk at General Conference. Surely the Smith Family kept all the commandments all the time. (Of course there is no such family as the Smiths-I made them up too! But many Mormons really believe they exist, figure that out.)

Smith family had no sins.

WHAT'S YOUR LIMIT IN JUDGING ANOTHER'S "WORTH"?
At what behavior do you judge another?
Is it cigarettes, alcohol, tattoos, piercings, dropping the F-bomb, etc etc.
Could I wear, say or do something that could stop you from treating me with respect? Make you avoid me? Keep you from loving me?

The answer is probably YES.

What if like -they (the Joes and Brighams of the world) really did come back to church- as Thomas S. Monson has requested:
Come back and feast at the table of the Lord, and taste again the sweet and satisfying fruits of fellowship with the Saints...." (Looking Back and Moving Forward, Ensign, April 2008)
Let's assume that once again
... Joe staggered
... Brigham rode his chopper
and
... The Smith Family drove their Dodge Caravan
to church.

And YOU happened to be ALONE in the foyer as they walked up the sidewalk to the church.  No one around. No one watching. (No one would know.) How would you feel? What would you do? How would you treat each of them? Would you treat them differently?

DON'T CONFUSE "WORTH" WITH "WORTHINESS"
Well, the question of worthiness is easy... If we used the analogy "the price of gold" to represent worthiness the Smith Family would be worth $1400 an ounce! (Assuming they even existed.) On the other hand, Joe and Brigham's worthiness would be much less - NO Temple Recommend for them! They need some serious repenting. Worthiness has to do with SIN. Worthiness is not a gift. We must earn it. Worthiness changes based on our behavior. If we are “good” we receive blessings; if we are not, we don’t. 

Back to our church...
What are you thinking...as you smell Joe's cigarettes and alcohol and see Brigham's piercings and naked lady tattoo- approach you? I'm not asking you to evaluate how many temple recommend questions they flunk... (There certainly is a time and place for the worthiness interview. But this isn't it.)

I'm just asking how would you treat them?
(Hint: John 8:3-11; Matt 25:34-40)

WORTH
Ahhh, now we have to think... What is the worth of a soul? Any soul?

But what if their sins stink?
"...Their souls are precious..." Alma 31:35

But what if theirs sins are an eyesore?
"...Their souls are precious..." D&C 109:43

But Joe and Brigham are real losers!
The answer is the same for murders, bishops, rapists, relief society presidents, child molesters, prophets ...Joe and Brigham and even the Smith Family.
"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. D&C 18:10

There is no less worth of a soul-because of a tattoo, a body piercing, being drunk, having a temple recommend, etc etc.

"GOLD"
If we used the analogy of "gold" again...
the Smith Family, Joe, and Brigham- each are 24 K gold. Worth is inherent in each of us - a gift- because we are a son or daughter of God with a "divine nature and identity." (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

Our worth -being 24 K gold -remains the same-
... Joe for example unprocessed 24 K gold,
... Brigham for example a 24 K gold nugget,
... and The Smith Family a 24 K gold coin.

To be Christ-like we must learn to see like Christ.

The Prophet Samuel choosing David to be king taught us- "The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:6-8. Jesus is capable of seeing the 24K Gold in each of us- regardless of our condition or worthiness.

 
Worth has to do with the SINNER. Though lives and circumstances may change, an individual's worth CANNOT! 

... You cannot sin enough to change your WORTH in the sight of God!

So,
when I'm sitting across from a murder,
spending hours with a rapist,
asking hundreds of questions to a child molester...
I'm trying my best to treat them for what they are Worth.
The judge makes the judgment of Worthiness...
and typically sends "these children of God" to jail and prison.
(Which by the way I support.
There is a time and place where judgment is the right thing to do.
But going to prison doesn't change an individual's WORTH.)
 
 
As Victor Hugo says in Les Miserables
-To love another person is to see the face of God-
Each of us are "children of God." Each of us have some of that "Godly DNA" inside.

Sometimes, it is a challenge to see God's face in some of His children.

CHALLENGE:
Learn the difference between acknowledging another's worthiness and their worth.
“I have in my heart a love for all of God’s children. I have no ill feeling toward any human being. With you, I hate sin, but I love the sinner. We all have need to repent." ( Ezra Taft Benson, "The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson" (1988), 75)
The truth shall make you free.

Read:  God Loves You THIS MUCH!

dr rick
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

My "our son is on porn" Rant

We found porn on our son's iPod - again.

Dad calls me with the intent on solving the son's porn problem.
...This is my plan. First, I'm going to confront him, take his iPod again and let him know it's wrong. Second, I'm setting up an appointment for him to go talk with the Bishop. And third, I'm finding a counselor for him to talk to by Monday....

Mom calls me a few minutes later with a broken heart.
... I've been searching the internet (listing various websites) and the first thing we're suppose to do is get him to a professional...

Isn't that what we do, dr rick?
 
My answer is one big fat NO! 
Not if you really want to help your son.

FIRST MYTH:  He's only 17 he can't to do this on his own. The Lord held him accountable at age 8. Its time you do the same.  He knows its wrong. Of course confront him... Obviously it is your house and you as parents have rights to have and enforce various rules. Certainly share your disappointment. Let him see your broken heart and tears -but not hysteria! -not doom and gloom! Take the iPod for now - you bought it anyway. Then very soon give the iPod back! There is NO way you can keep him away from explicit sexual content (aka: Porn) ... too many hot spots, too many devices, too many friends, too many tv channels, ... He will have to "grow into" staying away from it with desire, education, specific skills, and a miracle wouldn't hurt either.  He's not an idiot, psychotic, etc etc he can figure it out... when he's ready and has the right tools. Good grief he's valedictorian at the high school!  But for YOU to rush him off to a therapist before you even tried personal resources is absolutely stupid. It sends the message- You're inferior- you can't figure this out. You're only 17 and 17 year olds can't figure out things like this. What will help is love, patience and confidence --- "That he (your son) may know that thy faithfulness (in him-your son to overcome porn) is stronger than the cords of death" D&C 121:44 (See: You get what you faith for). Maybe start with something like this:
"Son, as your parents we have complete confidence in your ability to do hard things ....You can figure out how to control your sexual feelings and thoughts... What ideas do you have about dealing with this porn issue?... (Son: I don't know.)...That's fine lets kneel in prayer as a family and ask God to help you and we'll visit again about your ideas tomorrow..."


SECOND MYTH: Pornography is more powerful than what an "average" person can handle. Bologny! (Did I spell that right?)  There is another dangerous message sent by words like: "You can't do this on your own you need professional help!" This attributes way too much power to "Pornography" and way too little power to "God."  Porn "addiction" is a word we professionals came up with to describe a strong habit. Do you really think God is up in heaven saying "Oh my there's another one of my sons with a 'porn addiction.'" The word "Addiction" is not even in the scriptures! (I bet the word "addiction" doesn't even exist in the Heaven Edition of Wikipedia.) Don't you think if "Porn Addiction" was that unique and that powerful in and of itself, God would have given us specific guidance - more specific scripture perhaps like D & C 139: -Overcoming Porn Addiction  or something? The "Process" of addiction is all over the scriptures but referred to as "SIN." (See the addiction process: Pleasures of Sin; Successful Sinners; I Can't Stop. Help!; and Viewing Leads to Doing.)  Keep a gospel perspective.... TRUE-Porn addiction is a bad habit - a very powerful one .... when the "flesh/natural man" becomes enslaved to "appetites and passions" we have a problem.  (This process is as old as Adam and Eve.) If you react like it's the end of the world WHEN you find out your son has been looking at porn you are adding to the problem. Millions of youth and adults /men and women successfully manage their sexual thoughts and feelings every day. So can your son.  God is supreme, having power over ALL things including "porn addiction". No one or no force or happening can frustrate or prevent Him from accomplishing His designs. (See: D&C 3:1-3) Part of His design is your son's salvation! (See: Cosmically Competent)
 
CALM DOWN dr rick - take three deep breaths.
 
THIRD MYTH:  Professional counselors are miracle workers. Let me remind you, as a professional counselor we are NOT likely to get "personal revelation" about you or your loved one. You and your condition is NOT a matter of our personal prayers. We do NOT care as much as you care about you and your loved one. You're paying me remember. This is my "JOB".  We get tired of listening to problems all day long every day. We are humans to ... Sometimes at the end of the day we simply go through the motion ... and can't wait to get home to our families. Some of us are idiots. Some of us are going to make problems in your life worse. Some of us should have never been licensed in the first place. Some of us are useless and won't help you and won't hurt you. However, a few of us have a "gift" of healing and truly have a capacity to help.   Having said that, I believe 100% there is a time and place for visiting with a "good" professional... . We as mental health professionals can be one great resource for listening, encouraging, teaching specific skills like "Arousal Surfing" (Topic for another blog).... NEVER go to outside resources first --- See Counselitis. I've worked in and around treatment programs for 35 years. I've NEVER seen one program cure ONE addiction. EVER! We are ONE resource. We can teach skills, introduce you to other resources like a higher power, and we certainly offer encouragement and support.  The individual has to make the changes between their left and right ear. Treatment programs are only a resource...just a resource - one of several your son may have. We are imperfect in our profession-just like you are in yours. "Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost." (2 Nephi 28:31) Consider using "uncommon sense"  (it's not common anymore) when you deal with us, mental health professionals.

CALM DOWN dr rick -Use your resources. Go for a run.
 
FOURTH MYTH: You are way too young to be thinking about sex. I understand he just started dating a few months ago, but he started puberty 5 years ago... If you have forgotten, that means he has had the capacity for sexual arousal and feelings for FIVE YEARS!!!! (See: Puberty: The Second Fire). Sexual thoughts and feelings are NOT EVIL! God created them not Satan! (See: God's Love Chemicals).  My goodness... how soon you've forgotten your own early years of puberty.  You do NOT want to extinguish your son's sexual response, you want him to recognize this wonderful power and how to harness it.  Yes.... its past time for you to have several two-way discussions with your son about sex. Here are some ideas for discussions: God's Plan For Sex; Fifth Sunday And Another Lesson About Porn; You Can't Say That In A Chapel; etc etc

Blah Blah Blah

Okay I'm done.

I guess I'm suppose to tear this up delete this now that I got it all out, right?

This catharsis thing really works. :)
I feel a lot better, now.

dr rick
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stuck On An Escalator

Read this: What Satan Doesn't Want You To Know About The War 

Read this:
Joe's Story
Joe, had been unemployed for several years now. He didn't have any disabilities-just
didn't feel the need to work. Joe kept busy driving the children to dance, soccer, basketball, piano lessons etc etc. He was a counselor in the Elder's Quorum presidency.  His wife was working part time at a local restaurant and attending counseling at LDS Family Services for depression. The bishop was paying for her counseling. They just had their 6th kid. She was breastfeeding so they qualified for WIC. They had an EBT payment card, like a credit card, so the WIC monies along with their SNAP, cash and food stamp benefits were automatically deposited onto their card for use at their convenience. The bishop and extended family from time-to-time also helped the family with money and food. Nevertheless, Joe's family seemed to have all the necessities of life-cell phones, a place to live, etc etc

From the outside appearance Joe's family seemed to have everything their neighbors had next door -where the father worked two jobs and the wife worked part time. (Satan and his Special Forces have successfully engineered our society to "temporarily" remove consequences from certain choices.) 

Ask this:
Does Joe have "Agency?"

AGENCY HAS SEVERAL COMPONENTS
You thought "agency" just meant "choice." But its much more...
Victor Ludlow says: "the seven essential elements of agency: identity, knowledge, freedom, action, law, efficacy, and preservation." (Principles of Practices of the Gospel Restored, pg. 157). 
LDS psychologist Allen E. Bergin in "Toward a Theory of Human Agency" wrote: "The concept of agency may be subdivided into numerous dimensions such as: The initiation of behavior or the originating of ideas. This may be termed the domain of creation. The processes of decision-making or choosing, that is, the domain of reason. The processes of self-regulation or the domain of will. These and related topics provide enough substance for several books." (BYU Studies, vol. 16, 1975-1976).  
Adam and Eve an example
God told Adam and Eve they had a "choice" (an essential element of agency). He followed up by saying they could freely eat of every tree in the garden except one, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Of that tree God said, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Moses 3:17). After giving Adam and Eve choice he gave them "knowledge about consequences" of their choice a "choice between good and evil" (another essential element of agency). Finally, he held them accountable for the choice they made. You can read about the consequences for their choice in Genesis 3:16-17. It was here in the Garden of Eden God gave Adam and Eve "Agency" (Moses 7:32). Accountability was an essential element.  
(The single best LDS source for agency can be found here: What the Church Teaches About Agency. )
I'm getting old so let's keep "agency" plain and simple. Personal accountability consistently shows up in definitions of agency.

"Agency is...
to act with accountability and responsibility for our actions."
(Robert D. Hales, Agency, Essential to the Plan of Life, Liahona, Nov. 2010)


Satan's plan-DECREASING a person's ACCOUNTABILITY
WILL DECREASE a person's AGENCY


In addition to Accountability I view Choice and Knowledge of Consequences as essential pieces of the "Agency Puzzle."


Simple concept... Satan needs only to eliminate one of the puzzle pieces that makeup agency to remove one's agency.  Let's take accountability for example, when Satan creates an environment in which a person's accountability is minimized, agency is also minimized. The belief that I can have want I want without effort, something for nothing.... is sufficient to eliminate one's agency-freedom to act.

HOW WE ARE DECEIVED

Deception comes into play again because Satan's plan of removing accountability for our choices is theologically impossible and could not have worked even if all of the spirit offspring of God in the pre-existence had "voted" for it -
(A topic for another blog.)
Satan's successful destruction of our agency isn't
by force or with weapons of mass destructions but
by flattering us into believing there is NO personal accountability for our choices.
See blog: Satan Exposed

Of course Satan could never really destroy God's gift of agency- That's impossible. But he can deceive us...
....by convincing us self-reliance and personal accountability are not that big of deal and have nothing to do with agency.
....by having us focus only on our right to choose (Choice being one element of agency) a partial truth and not also emphasizing the consequence of the choice (Consequence being another element of agency).
etc etc

EXAMPLES OF "LOST" AGENCY

EXAMPLE 1-Seagulls starving to death
In this story seagulls lose their ability "to fish" by Marion G. Romney:
... In our friendly neighbor city of St. Augustine, great flocks of sea gulls are starving amid plenty. Fishing is still good, but the gulls don’t know how to fish. For generations they have depended on the shrimp fleet to toss them scraps from the nets. Now the fleet has moved. … “The shrimpers had created a Welfare State for the … sea gulls. The big birds never bothered to learn how to fish for themselves and they never taught their children to fish. Instead they led their little ones to the shrimp nets.Now the sea gulls, ..., are starving to death because they gave in to the ‘something for nothing’ lure! They sacrificed their independence (agency) for a hand-out.A lot of people are like that, too. They see nothing wrong in picking delectable scraps from the tax nets of the U.S. Government’s ‘shrimp fleet.’ But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods? What about our children of generations to come? (The First Presidency Message; The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance, Ensign June 1984)
These seagulls lost their agency to fish.

EXAMPLE 2-Stuck on an escalator
In this story two people get stuck on a broken escalator and lose their ability to "get off" on their own - shared by a popular YouTube video People Stuck On An Escalator.


These individuals stuck on the escalator have lost their agency to get off.

(How does being stuck on an escalator relate to addiction?)

EXAMPLE 3-Joe "...failing to provide..."
In this story above, "Joe" loses his ability to "provide the necessities of life(The Family: A Proclamation to the World.) by depending on others to care for him and his family.

Joe, after years of unemployment and others taking care
of him, has lost his agency to provide for his family.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
If this is true-reduce personal accountability and you reduce agency-... some of us have lost or are in process of losing our agency!  

As in the war in the pre-existence, Satan's political platform has once again successfully influenced millions to surrender their agency and follow him. (Even though they go to church every Sunday.)
In the examples above there is a reduction in personal accountability for decisions as a dependency on others increases. This process reduces one's ability to choose and to do. (See: The Gift-Between God and I ; Counselitis)
 Except for the starving seagulls who are now suffering
the consequences for personal choices.  
CHALLENGE
Can you get off an escalator?

dr rick
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Sunday, November 3, 2013

What Satan Doesn't Want You To Know About The War

The judge ordered 18 year old Joe to 1-15 years in the Utah State Prison.

I completed plenty of testing and record reviewing on Joe prior to sentencing. His measured IQ was average. He had  some minor learning disabilities but qualified for an IEP during junior high and high school. He had an obvious problem with aggression and touching girls. Because of his IEP and No Child Left Behind regardless of his behavioral problems or refusal to do homework - - In 18 years Joe never received any substantial consequence for any of his disruptive or lazy behavior. The school just continued passing him on to the next grade even though he had problems with reading and writing. In a similar fashion, the parents had consistently protected Joe from experiencing failure and withheld any type of penalty for his misbehavior. (And influenced others to do the same.)  Joe had never had a job or been held accountable for any of his behavior and yet he seemed to have it all!
He had ...
a place to live,
food to eat,
an Eagle Scout (his mom did it),
a high school diploma,
a cell phone,
a car, 
spending money,
a girlfriend,
etc etc

On his 18th birthday he inappropriately touched his underage girlfriend.
Now, he was on his way to prison.

THE GREATEST WAR EVER FOUGHT!
Remember in 2011 Conference when Dieter F. Uchtdorf  said "...you could pile up the accumulated currency of the entire world and it could not buy a loaf of bread in the economy of heaven." (You Matter to Him, Conference Oct 2011) Well what about a war in heaven?

How does one fight a war with spirit beings?

I could pile up
the accumulated weapons of the entire world
all the bombs, guns, suicide bombers, terrorists 
they could not kill
one spirit
in the war in  heaven.

So with what weapons was the Greatest War- the war in the pre-existence - fought?

INFLUENCIAL WORDS - Persuasion and Deception.

Remember "Lucifer" at one point "was in authority in the presence of God" (D&C 76:25-26). He was a leader. A chosen one. Lucifer with his compelling personality and influential words, persuaded "many" to follow after him (Abr. 3:27-28). He did not use force or weapons of mass destruction ...  such weaponry would have been useless against spirits!

Millions followed after Satan....
because they wanted to go with him!
because they wanted what he had to offer!

What makes Satan's success even more impressive is the fact his campaign recruited one third of Father's children (D&C 29:36) to rebel against God - while they (we) were living with the all-powerful God and his son Jesus Christ!

Take a minute and wonder about what it must have been like for God and Jesus Christ to be promoting their Plan of Salvation to you and I - personally - and how powerful an opposite campaign
would have had to have been
to persuade us away from God while we were in His very presence.
(It makes me wonder, how powerful is Satan's political agenda here on earth while we are not in His presence?)

WHY LUCIFER'S PLAN IS SO ALLURING
Satan's political party platform features Guaranteed Salvation. 

"and I will redeem ALL mankind, that
ONE SOUL SHALL NOT BE LOST." (Moses 4:1)

Satan promised salvation without effort, without excellence, without hard work, without individual responsibility.  Think of it Exaltation Without Effort! This shortcut to salvation obviously captivated many gullible and lazy spirits. They wanted something for nothing.

Satan's campaign consisted of telling us what we wanted to hear and giving us what we wanted. What could motivate a crowd more than promising us exactly what we wanted, with no charge or personal effort?

We learn more about Satan's Plan of Salvation by studying his followers. Here are some samples:
Samuel the Lamanite pointed out that the Gadiantons used this method with the Nephites: "If a man shall come among you and shall say ... do whatsoever your heart desireth...ye will receive him and say that he is a prophet" (Helaman 13:27). The prophet Jacob wrote that Sherem "began to preach among the people, and to declare unto them that there should be no Christ. And he preached many things which were flattering unto the people; and this he did that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ." (Jacob 7:2) Nehor, another anti-Christ, "testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble... for the Lord... had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life" (Alma 1:4).
And perhaps the most popular of all, Nephi's teaches:
"Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us. ..." (2 Nephi 28:7-8)
It begins to make sense how so many could be lured away when salvation is offered regardless of sin or personal effort - with freedom from accountability.  Think of it -a promise of receiving the reward -salvation- with nothing required.

Deception comes into play because Satan's plan is theologically impossible and could not have worked even if all of the spirit offspring of God had "voted" for it -
(A topic for another blog.)
Satan's successful destruction of our agency wasn't
by force or with weapons of mass destructions
 but by deceiving us about our personal responsibility in gaining Salvation-

Like in the example above, Joe appeared to have it all ....
without any personal effort or accountability...
until his Judgement Day.
See blog: Satan Exposed

Satan's easy, effortless plan is a stark contrast to the Father's plan which requires accountability, obedience, repentance, etc etc.

By Satan's eloquence and flattery he would blind us to the end result of sin and bondage. He would make it seem attractive, even though he knows that its wage is death.

THE LONGEST WAR EVER FOUGHT
The war that commenced in the premortal realm of God continues here on earth. The participants are the same. Satan's political platform remains unchanged-for he continues to seek to destroy our agency through influential words and philosophies to follow after him.

Joseph F. Smith identified several dangers that threaten the Church within - he begins First with

"… flattery of prominent men in the world...”
 (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, pp. 312–13.)

This is what Satan doesn't want you to know about the war in heaven
and the war now on earth.
If we were to know the enemy's most powerful weapon
we would be more prepared to battle.

CHALLENGE
True or False- Satan's most powerful weapon of war are influential words - persuasion, flattery, and deception.
Talk to a loved one about your thoughts.

dr rick
dr rick's blog index

The next obvious question is, "How does unaccountability destroy agency?" See: Stuck on an Escalator.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

dr rick's "Five to Survive"

I often get asked How can you do your job? What's my job... visiting with murders, rapists, child molesters etc.... I've been to most jails in Utah at least once. I've heard every gross sexual crime ever committed -i think- in detail and sometimes with pictures.

This is how I do hard things:

RESOURCE ONE: EXERCISE. It's always been a good one for me... I usually go to Gold's Gym. Nothing special just a little swimming, running and biking. I've never won a race... and have no interest in winning. Here the Standard Examiner Bird and I are running the 10K with the CocaCola Classic in Layton. 

I finish a race.

"Nutritious meals, regular exercise, and appropriate sleep are necessary for a strong body, just as consistent scripture study and prayer strengthen the mind and spirit” (That We May Touch Heaven, Ensign, Nov. 1990, 46).





RESOURCE TWO: STUDY THE BOOK OF MORMON AND PRAY. For me reading the Book of Mormon while I run on the treadmill or bike works great. My Book of Mormon is large font. (I"m getting old now.) The covers fell off a year or two ago. The pages are worn. I'm in the Isaiah chapters right now and I again Isaiah and I have not connected :(  I'm anxious to get to Alma. To go along with my Book Of Mormon reading, I kneel in prayer doing my best to visit with our Heavenly Father. I go to the temple and Church as I've found these activities often strengthen my spirit. Like you, I never do as good as I want in going to the temple, reading every day, etc etc --- But I do my best. 

Spiritual development is tied very closely to a knowledge of the scriptures, where the doctrines are found." Boyd K. Packer (Jay E. Jensen, Why We Ask People to Read the Book of Mormon, New Era, Aug 2005)


RESOURCE THREE: READ OTHER STUFF AND THINK. Satan's War on Free Agency by Greg Wright. It has a ton of great thoughts. For me taking time to think and ponder new thoughts is a resource and strengthens my mind. Now, I'm involved with Greg's book learning -What Satan doesn't want you to know about the War in Heaven.
As I study and personalize new thoughts I want to share them with you - my family and friends!

"Learning to love learning is vital to our ongoing spiritual and personal development" (David Bednar, Learning To Love Learning, Ensign, Feb 2010)


RESOURCE FOUR: SERVICE WITH VOICES FOR VIRTUE. Since about 1978 I've been involved with volunteer services through various Foundations. I've always believed with God's help, I could make a difference. Well after many years and learning experiences- I think the Lord has blessed us with a message and a delivery system that works -Voices for Virtue. Simply,  this organization helps youth strengthen one another in virtuous living using social networking. Check it out... have your youth join! Think of it... nearly a quarter of a million young Voices for Virtue on our English Voices For Virtue Facebook Page and our Portuguese Voz da Virtude Page.  I spend time each week in volunteering.

"Service to others is one of the most important characteristics of a disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple is willing to bear other people’s burdens and to comfort those who need comfort (Mosiah18:8–9). Often Heavenly Father will meet the needs of others through you." For The Strength Of Youth


RESOURCE FIVE: GROW A GARDEN. This I've done since a child. Gardening began alongside my dad. When I need an hour of therapy. I'll go to my garden. Some weeks, I spend a lot of time in the garden. There is just something about pulling weeks, planting seeds and watching them grow that is healing for me.

By the way - Gardening is a great example of how an activity might be a resource to one -but a stress to another. For me gardening is a resource. For you it may not be. Remember a resource is personal, it has to work for YOU!

Here I am displaying our home grown ingredients for Karla's salsa.

"There are blessings in being close to the soil, in raising your own food even if it is only a garden in your yard and a fruit tree or two." (Ezra Taft Benson, Prepare for the Days of Tribulations, Ensign, Nov 1980)

FIVE TO SURVIVE
I try to have at least....
one resource to strengthen each - my Mind, Physical Body and Spirit Body.
and a total of five resources.
Like you....
somedays I do better than others at having and using my resources. 
my resources change-sometimes from week to week.  
When I don't have enough resources I "catch"
what Jeffrey Holland calls
"Depletion Depression." (Like A Broken Vessel, Conference Talk Oct 2013)

CHALLENGE
Follow the impression you had for YOUR LIFE, as you read this blog.

dr rick
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Sunday, October 13, 2013

YEA! - for Elder Holland's Talk on Mental Illness

On Saturday Afternoon Session  of the 183rd Semiannual General Conference Elder Jeffry R. Holland spoke on mental illness and emotional problems.
Wow was I impressed!
As a psychologist, I've been to a lot of workshops, college courses, etc etc about mental illness but I'm not sure I've heard so many wonderful hopeful concepts.
I'm positive Elder Holland's talk will be among a very short list of LDS general authorities who have spoken publicly about mental illness.
The short list of other "Classic" talks on mental illness:

- Elder Boyd K Packer's talk published in the Ensign in 1978 and 2010:  Solving Emotional Problems In the Lord's Own Way;
-Elder M. Russell Ballard's 1987 Ensign article: Suicide: Some Things We Know, and
Some We Do Not;
-Elder Alexander Morrison's 2003 book: Valley of Sorrow: A Layman's Guide to Understanding Mental Illness and the Ensign article: Myths About Mental Illness;
-And Elder Rex D. Pinegar and our Foundation's 2005 book  And I Will Make Thee Whole: Helping Families with Mental Health Concerns.
(Or course now LDS.org has a Mental Illness section on their website: See: Mental Illness.)

Here are my observations on Elder Holland's talk
Like a Broken Vessel:
(I didn't like the title. I would have liked something more positive like "Broken Minds Can Be Healed.")

REDUCING THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS
Elder Holland's "One liners"
It's always refreshing to see the stigma of mental illness reduced for both the surrounding loved ones and the person suffering from the illness. Elder Holland made several statements in his talk comparing mental illness with any other medical disease .... here are two of my favorites:
...there should be no more shame in acknowledging them [mental illness and emotional problems] than in acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure or the sudden appearance of a malignant tumor.
And this one....
If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders [and mental illness]. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use ALL of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation..
Elder Holland referencing his OWN mental illness
Of course just having Elder Holland say the words "mental illness" in an official setting like Conference in my opinion is a small miracle. But to "admit" he has suffered from a serious depression condition is a much larger miracle. Elder Holland said:
I once terrifyingly saw it [depression] in myself. At one point in our married life when financial fears collided with staggering fatigue, I took a psychic blow that was as unanticipated as it was real. With the grace of God and the love of my family, I kept functioning and kept working,...
Elder Holland referencing President Smith's mental illness
Plus Elder Holland went one step further identifying numerous world leaders and other popular figures who have also suffered from depression/mental illness including:
Elder George Albert Smith, the latter being one of the most gentle and Christ like men of our dispensation, who battled recurring depression for some years before later becoming the universally beloved eighth prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Remember, in an earlier blog we told the story of President Harold B. Lee's battle with depression. See: Depression: A Dark Angel.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO REDUCE STIGMA?
Believe it or not at times the "self-stigmatisation" (the stigma and shame the individual with mental illness has about themselves) is more devastating than even the mental illness symptoms! Read this last sentence again--- Believe it or not at times the "self-stigmatisation" (the stigma and shame the individual with mental illness has about themselves) is more devastating than even the mental illness symptoms! :( Reducing stigma helps healing! :)

EDUCATING ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS 
Elder Holland used words like: "neuroses and psychoses, ... bipolarity, paranoia, and schizophrenia" and of course "MDD, Major Depressive Disorder."  He carefully discussed characteristics of Major Depressive Disorder identifying the difference between the mental illness and normal depression/discouragement we all experience.
When I speak of this, [Major Depressive Disorder] I am not speaking of bad hair days, tax deadlines, or other discouraging moments we all have. Everyone is going to be anxious or downhearted on occasion. ... But today I am speaking of something more serious, of an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person’s ability to function fully...
In an earlier blog Depression: A Dark Angel we talked about the confusion associated with the misuse of the word "Depression."

Clearly, Elder Holland has had a personal experience with the mental illness referred to as Major Depressive Disorder. You might ask how could I tell? Look at how he described depression:

-"a crater in the mind so deep that no one can responsibly suggest it would surely go away if those victims would just square their shoulders and think more positively"
 "this dark night of the mind and spirit is more than mere discouragement"
-“searched … and contemplated the darkest abyss
and of course his several references to suicide.
 
Only a person who has experienced the mental illness of "depression" would understand the associated darkness and despair.

PROVIDING A "TO DO LIST"
And most helpful was Elder Holland's TO DO LIST for those suffering from the mental illness of Depression - here are a few:

1. Above all never lose faith in your Father in Heaven who
loves you more than you can comprehend.
2. Seek the counsel from those who hold keys for your spiritual well being.
3. Ask for cherish priesthood blessings.
4. Take the Sacrament every week.
5. Hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ
6. Believe in miracles.
7. Trusting in happier days ahead. Hope is never lost.
8. If the bitter cup does not pass drink it. And be strong.
9. Get the best medical care available.
For more suggestions check out the blog: Got depression? Do this.

Elder Holland goes on to give advice to caregivers, to talk about how to prevent "depletion depression",  and to share the story about Stephanie Clark Nielsen. (A few years ago Mormon Messages did a video on Sister Nielsen's story- My New Life. )
 
The fact that Elder Holland talked so openly and frankly about mental illness brings HOPE into the healing process for thousands of those who hear it.

A couple of other great quotes from his talk were:
"If we do not take time to be well, we most assuredly
will take time later on, to be ill."

"We are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions!" 
"Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed."

CHALLENGE
Watch Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's - Conference Talk on Mental Illness-Like a Broken Vessel.


Read the written text- Like a Broken Vessel of Elder Holland's talk.
(Make sure to pay attention to his last paragraph, it's the best!)

dr rick
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