All Things Witness

Thoughts on the mission and power of Jesus Christ


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The Journey – An Allegory

6261718098_48baf2fc8f_nThere once lived a young couple recently married. With their small baby daughter they lived in a temporary dwelling in a hot desert. There were many thousands of people who shared similar accommodation nearby, and over time it became apparent that food and other necessities would not continue to arrive to support the population.

When the people had arrived at the town they had been informed of a Kindly Man who had established this area as a temporary shelter, and that he would send a message when it was time to move on, with instructions as to what the people should do.

As time passed, and supplies dwindled, many began to believe that the story of the Kindly Man was nothing more than a myth. Consequently some individuals and families around them started to move out into the desert, following promises of sustenance, and even opulence, elsewhere. But the couple recognised such promises as nothing more than vague rumours, and the routes people were taking uncertain. They considered it would be foolish to follow such rumours into the desolate wilderness, and so they waited with little more than a hope that the Kindly Man was real, and that he would send the promised message before life’s necessities vanished and they, along with their precious baby, perished. Continue reading


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On Prayer and Patience

I love the passage of scripture in the Book of Mormon where Alma and Amulek are teaching the poor amongst the Zoramites. Their teachings comprise chapters 32-34 of Alma, and begin with the famous passage comparing the word of God to a seed. This passage is worth study itself in relation to the Atonement because ultimately, Alma teaches, the seed will grow into the Tree of Life which, as Nephi teaches us earlier, is a representation of the love of God, as manifest through His Only Begotten. “To partake of the love of God is to partake of Jesus’ Atonement and the emancipation and joys which it can bring.”, said Elder Neal A Maxwell about the Tree of Life (Lessons from Laman and Lemuel, October 1999 General Conference).

As we partake of the fruit of this tree, “…behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.” (Alma 32:42-43)

It is interesting that Alma here teaches that some of the blessings of the Atonement will come to us after we have exercised a degree of patience. Continue reading


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A Lesson in Patience

BaptismI have twin daughters. They are a delight, and I am constantly astonished at how different their personalities are despite their identical genetic starting point. I have learned many things from my children, and recently I had reason to stop to consider a wonderful life lesson taught to me by one of my twin daughters.

It relates to their recent baptism, but for those who read this and may not be LDS, there are three things that are important to know about baptism in our Church.

Firstly, children do not get baptised before the age of 8, which we believe is when children begin to become accountable for their actions. We believe that prior to this age, Christ’s atonement covers all mistakes no matter how sorry or otherwise a child may be.

Secondly, baptism in our Church is by immersion – the whole body under the water at the same time, symbolising the death of the old self, and cleansing resurrection to a new life as a disciple of Christ. If your hair floats on the top of the water it has to be done again – 100% simultaneous immersion is essential.

Thirdly, all males in good standing in the Church are able to hold the Priesthood, meaning that they are able to directly perform ordinances like baptism for their families. A real highlight in my life has been being able to baptise each of my children.

With the above points in mind, and as the time drew closer to my twin daughters’ 8th birthday, we began to prepare for their baptism. They were both very excited as the months and then weeks drew closer. We had some practice sessions at home, “bend your knees like this”, “now close your eyes and hold your nose”, “try and keep your feet on the ground so a toe doesn’t pop out of the water”, etc. They invited school friends to come and see their baptism, told their teachers, and generally just couldn’t wait.

But, as the day drew nearer we recognised a potential problem – neither of my girls were able to put their heads under water. We’ve often gone swimming as a family, and they attend swimming lessons at school. But they never put their heads under water – they don’t even like water on their faces. That’s fine for a family swimming trip; not quite so fine when they want to get baptised, and the baptism must be by immersion. Continue reading


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A Frozen Thank You

With two daughters, Disney princess films are a regular feature in our home.  In fact, as I write this we have one on (one of the Little Mermaid sequels).  To be fair, our boys tend to enjoy them too, but I Frozenheartannadoubt they would admit that to their friends.

The most recent Disney film, Frozen, has attracted quite a lot of attention by those who argue both it is a pro and anti-religion film.  I personally doubt very much that the writers or company had any religious intent whatsoever, but as it was on (again) the other day, it struck me that there are some beautiful themes in the film that work well as an allegory. Continue reading


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Hard is OK

Exam PrepOne of my children has just finished his first set of “proper” exams at school last week.  I should explain that these exams are UK “SATS”, taken at the end of the last year of primary school.  They will be of limited immediate value to him, which is not to say there is no value – his results will be passed on to the Secondary School he will be attending which will be of some benefit for him – but the main point of them seems to me to be to measure the school’s teaching quality rather than for the students’ benefit.

It was stressful for him preparing for them, and we had tears and drama at home with his homework as we got closer to exam time.

Two discussions with my son about his recent exams have stuck with me.  The first is when I was trying to both comfort him as well as explain why his exams are valuable for him.  Yes they might help the Secondary School he will be attending get an idea of his academic abilities to enable them to better support him as he starts the next stage of his education, but there is also value in his getting experience of exam conditions, of experiencing how they work and how to prepare for them.  All of these, I explained, would help him when he was preparing for much more important exams as he gets older.

My son, understanding that what I was saying made sense, replied with tears in his eyes, “I don’t want to grow up”.  The challenge for him was that this exam preparation was hard for him – really hard.  It was a burden he didn’t feel he could face, and so he wished he could just remain a child so that he could avoid such challenges. Continue reading


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A Mother’s Love (again)

MotherI posted this a few weeks ago when it was Mother’s Day in the UK.  I repost it today for those in the USA, where it is Mother’s Day today.

In the LDS Church we place a high value on families, and I am fortunate to have been born to two loving parents, including a mother who has taught me patience and compassion, and who I always knew throughout my growing up years would always be there for me. I know that sadly not all children can say the same. I don’t know why I was fortunate to have been born in such a loving family, but I am grateful nonetheless.

I am also very fortunate to be married to a woman who epitomises all that is wonderful about a good mother. She loves, nurtures and teaches our children (I try too, but she does it better). I can see in the way my children respond to my wife that there is nothing quite like a child’s affection for their mother. Continue reading


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Our Trees of Comfort

Tree 2

 

 

Members of the LDS Church will be familiar with the story of Lehi and his family travelling through a desert wilderness for many years, with rebellious children Laman and Lemuel (who really would have preferred to have stayed in Jerusalem), and obedient Nephi.  In a Sunday School class I was in a couple of years ago, the teacher began by handing out slips of paper to everyone, asking people to complete an imaginary sentence spoken by the rebellious Laman and Lemuel, “I am sick and tired of…”. I was struggling to sum up what I thought they would be sick and tired of, so in the 1 or so minute that we had I quickly wrote the following:

 

I am sick and tired of wandering through hot and dusty places

I miss our home – our friends; and their happy, smiling faces

My father is a lunatic. His crazy prophecies

Have utterly – completely – made my life a misery Continue reading

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