Gordon B. Hinckley passed away Sunday, and since then I’ve thought back on the many memories I have of him. He was called to serve as a counselor in the first presidency one week before I was born, so his face has always been a familiar one. In March of 1996 he was ordained 15th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (casually known as the Mormon Church). In our seminary class later that year we were given a challenge to learn if he really was a prophet. Around the time of General Conference that fall, I took that challenge to heart and prayed to learn if he really was a prophet of God. After praying, I felt in my heart that he really was someone that God had ordained to teach us and reveal his will to us. Explaining how I know it is difficult, but this scripture from the Book of Ether, written by an ancient American prophet, may help:
“But he that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true; for it persuadeth men to do good.”
Ether 4:11 (emphasis mine)
As a prophet, President Hinckley led and guided his people. As a leader, he touched our hearts and helped us do good. As a person, he was a humanitarian and someone who loved others. A recent insert to the Daily Universe, Brigham Young University’s student newspaper, highlights many of the major accomplishments of his life.
I am very grateful to have been able to listen to his words, including a few times when I was able to listen to his teachings in person. His words touched my heart and helped me become a better person.
I got a little teary-eyed when I read that the humanitarian efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have saved over 400,000 lives in developing countries by “training medical staff and birth attendants how to resuscitate oxygen-deprived babies at birth”. Our little girl Emmy had problems breathing at birth and it was those skills combined with a loving Father in Heaven that allowed her to live. I’m glad that an increasing number of parents around the world can see doctors and nurses perform these miracles.
I was very interested by the PBS documentary that aired last night, entitled “The Mormons”. I was very impressed with how professional the whole thing was. It was certainly interesting to see the many perspectives on some interesting points of Mormon History. PBS also hosts a companion website to “The Mormons”, which I found to be a great resource to learn a little more about those being interviewed as well as a very well-done list of FAQs of Mormonism. You can even view part one online.
My wife and I both noticed that a lot of time was devoted to polygamy and the Mountain Meadows Massacre, but I think that may have been because they are both topics that are not well understood by the general public. I must admit that I only learned about Mountain Meadows a year ago, and I would certainly say that it is a topic that isn’t understood by the general population of the Mormon Church, either.
While I don’t necessarily agree with everything that was presented in the documentary, overall I was extremely impressed. I’m definitely looking forward to part two tonight.
As I’ve said recently, we’ve started learning about finances as a family. One of our favorite talks is Elder Marvin J. Ashton’s Guide to Family Finance, which was given to us by Julia’s bishop just before we got married. Another great resource is a handout from Education Week at BYU (pdf). These resources break it down financial basics very well. The principles in here are simple and easy to understand, but they take some personal conviction to implement.
The great part about these ideas is that they’re based on proven principles and common sense. Here are some of the basics
- Start a budget
- Set money aside for emergencies
- Get out of debt
- Save money for the future
These items all start with action words. If you want more information, a professor at BYU has set up a great financial website to help you learn about financial basics. It’s set up like a class, but all of the information is free and very rewarding. Although religion is deeply rooted in these resources, they certainly ring true for people of all faiths.
My sister recently sent me a link to a website, readthescriptures.com, that has some great features. It’s been around for a little while, but I’m just starting to use it, but the website provides me with a lot of convenient options that help give me that extra reminder to read the scriptures every day.
Readthescriptures.com has many features, but its main purpose is to help you to read the scriptures. You can pick from several predefined reading schedules (e.g. to read the New Testament in 60 days or read the Book of Mormon in 90 days) or you can create your own custom schedule to read from one of the standard works. These reading assignments are then sent to you via email, and you click a link in the email to let the system know that you’ve finished reading. You won’t receive your next reading assignment until you finish your current one, and there are also statistics to help you track your progress to let you know if you’ve slipped a bit in your schedule.
Some other features include teams for added community support from friends or family, as well as a secure personal journal and notes system. The notes are incorporated into the web-based scripture reader so that you can type in thoughts that are specific to a particular verse of scripture.
One thing I like about the website is its flexibility. The designers of the site recognize that not everyone studies the scriptures the same way. If I wanted to, after seeing my daily reading assignment in my email inbox, I can pull out my scriptures and read from there, but I’m still left with the option of reading it in my email client or online with the added note-taking features.
As my sister said, this site is great for people who find themselves with enough time each day to read my email, but not enough time to read the scriptures.