My Thoughts On Martin Luther

This morning I was reading The 95 Theses written by Martin Luther in 1517. As I read it, I was filled with such a strong feeling of God and his dealings with his children throughout time.

For those who aren’t familiar with Martin Luther, he was a monk in Germany in the early sixteenth century. In a trip to Rome, he climbed the Scala Sancta to free his grandfather from purgatory. (These “Holy Stairs” are still there in Rome. I saw them while I was there, though we didn’t take the time to climb them.)

As he reached the top of the stairs, he felt so strongly that it wasn’t right that we would have to pay money and do this act in order to free his grandfather. This was a spark that directed him for the rest of his life. He taught that people don’t buy their way out of purgatory. They believe in and follow Christ.

Luther didn’t have intentions of starting a church. His motivation was to re-align the Roman Catholic Church to follow what was written in the Bible. However, the misaligned pope and cardinals felt the threat and tried to stop it. Luther eventually declared doctrine (e.g., 95 Theses) that more closely aligned with the Bible, he translated the bible to German so everyday people could read it rather than only listen to their priests. People were inspired. He was excommunicated from the church. Those who found comfort in the teaching of Luther formed the Protestant church that we know today.

Why does this apply to me and strengthen my testimony?

Luther encouraged people to think for themselves. He spurred Europe out of “The Dark Ages” and cracked the door open for light. Luther didn’t have authority, nor did he claim it. Some of his doctrine wasn’t correct because he leaned completely on understanding and not revelation. But the work that he did was absolutely critical in the exit from the Apostasy and the restoration of the Christ’s Church and His Priesthood. God started long, long ago so the proper foundation could be set by 1820 and he could begin the restoration of all things.

The story of Luther is amazing. There is much more than can be written in a blog post. Put the movie “Luther” in your Netflix queue and watch it. It’s great.

A Mighty Man Fallen

President Faust

James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away this morning.

From the official church newsroom:

President Faust, 87, had served in the First Presidency since 1995 and as a General Authority of the Church for 35 years. A Church statement today said that President Faust had died of “causes incident to age.”

President Faust was appointed second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 12 March 1995. The First Presidency is the highest presiding body in the government of the Church.

I’ve always enjoyed the talks given by President Faust. They are full of both humility and doctrine. I’m saddened by the news, but can’t help but picture those on the other side of death quite ecstatic with the entrance of a spiritual giant.

My Fatherhood Checklist

At the end of every month, I write what I call a “Thought Paper.” I pick out something that has been on my mind that month and get it out on paper. I’ve been doing it for years and it has been a wonderful thinking tool.

As you would imagine, this month fatherhood has been on my mind. What is expected of a father? How can I surpass the expectations?

I decided to write, “My Fatherhood Checklist.” In it, I listed six principles that I think a son should rightfully learn from his father. Mothers help teach these principles. So do school classes and church meetings. But my conclusion was that fathers should see to it that these six principle are taught and that a son understands them. Or to make it more personal for me, if my son doesn’t know these principles as he grows up, I am specifically at fault and should be held accountable.

My paper is long. Here is a summary of the six principles:

1) The Priesthood of God is a call to serve. It is to be used to bless and help others. Use it as the scriptures instruct. Accepting the Priesthood holds you to a higher standard. It is your commitment to serve when you are called as a missionary and in any other calling issued from the Church. God will bless you all your life and you have a duty to help bless others. Follow righteous Priesthood holders like the prophet and the twelve apostles.

2) Being wise with your finances will save you trouble and heartache. Work an honest job for your money. Always pay your tithing first, then your savings account, and then your bills. If you don’t have enough for your bills, change your lifestyle. A budget should be kept and money should be tracked. Schools don’t teach this, but it’s absolutely critical. Media will teach you to live on credit but debt is an incredible burden to have on your shoulders.

3) Pornography is as dangerous as a drug. Avoid it at all costs. When others may tell you it is “normal” or “healthy”, know that your father and your Heavenly Father are of an opposite opinion. Avoid it like you would a deadly disease. It teaches disrespect for women and portrays an inaccurate view of the world. It makes you idle in progression. If you do slip, find help from me or your bishop as soon as you can.

4) Respect women. Treat them with kindness. Even in the hard times, always be respectful. This applies to all women, not just the ones that attract you. And more than any others, respect your mother and your wife.

5) Patience is a prized characteristic. Do all you can to learn it. It will make you a better father, a better leader and a better person. It will save you from being both offensive and offended. It will help you control your temper. It will allow you to lead in times of emergency or uncertainty. The more you are patient, the easier it is to do.

6) Learn from history and the experience of others. Learn to love history. There have been so many people who have succeeded and failed, learn from them. Read how cities were created and destroyed. Learn about intelligent and successful women and men and absorb their characteristics. Read The Book Of Mormon and the restortation of the Gospel thru Joseph Smith to see how God deals with His people. When you rub shoulders with giants of past, you become one in the present.

There is a lot more a father should teach his children, but these are the six that I chose as absolutely critical. If from no where else, these principles must come from the father. I’d love to hear what’s on your list.

My Thoughts On Tithing

Of all the commandments lovingly given from our Heavenly Father, the law of tithing is among my favorite. In the Mormon Church, tithing is defined as “a commandment from the Lord to pay one tenth of one’s annual increase or income for the building of His Church on the earth.” This commandment has been present since the early days of the Old Testament and continues to apply to us today. (See D&C 119)

There are three reasons I love this call of sacrifice from the Lord:

1) So often, commandments offer a principle and allow you to rely on the Holy Ghost to know how to act. Being kind to others and having moral thoughts are two examples of this. This can be rewarding but it also allows for missed judgement calls. Sometimes you must learn as you go.

With the law of the tithe, it is crystal clear what is expected. In exchange, Heavenly Father promises very specific blessings. I love the simplicity. I testify that the blessings are always given when this law is followed.

2) The law of tithing is a call to action. You are expected to do something.

The Lord commands, “Thou shalt not kill.” This is easy. Just don’t do it. But the law of tithing says, “Refraining from action is not enough. I need My people to be anxiously engaged.” I like that.

3) I think that most people are giving by nature. As we see earthquakes and floods cover the earth, we all like to help financially when we can. But with each disaster, we see responses from government and charity organizations that are sometimes equally disastrous.

Tithing in the church allows a way for me to give with complete trust that the funds will be used appropriately. The Lord directs this church and the use of it’s funds. I know that. While the money may be handled by human hands, the system and procedures are of heavenly origins.

Enjoying The Feelings Of The Spirit

Just before the last General Conference of the Mormon Church, the church made available for purchase “The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd.”

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Previously, this movie was only shown at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on Temple Square. “This film depicts events from the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. The story culminates with a portrayal of the resurrected Savior’s visit to the ancient Americas as seen through the eyes of a fictional family.”

The movie is well done. The actors are good and the scenery is beautiful. But more than anything else, there is such a calming feeling while watching this movie. As it shows different miracles and events in the life of Christ, you can feel the Spirit cradle your heart. In the last scenes of the movie, the viewer is shown a depiction of Christ visiting His people in the Americas. The visit really took place and is described in a chapter of the Book of Mormon. This is a wondreful depiction of it.

I actually found this section of the movie on youtube here. It picks up just after Jesus was crucified and the whole world mourned in darkness. Christ visits the people, including the fictional family. There is one scene that especially overpowers me each time. I love it.

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If you aren’t familiar with the teachings of the Mormon church and would like to learn more about it, please use my contact page and let me know. I’d love to talk with you about it. I’d be happy to send you this video on DVD and a Book of Mormon as a gift.

Organizing Quotes On A Mac

I’ve always enjoyed collecting good quotes. Whenever I hear a good one, I’ll use my phone to send a note to my email inbox to file it away. For a long time, I would just add them to an ever-growing word document. That works fine for safe-keeping, but I wanted a way to better search the quotes. Quoty is a great online way to do it, but a quote book is so much work I just needed an absolute way to back it up. Also, on planes and travel times I like to work on the quote book and I wouldn’t have access to an online service. I wanted to find a good application for it.

I looked at a lot of different applications, but couldn’t find one I liked. I thought maybe I could make one of my own. For a while, I worked with a development team on creating a Mac application for organizing quotes. We got a good start on it, but those fellas had a lot going on and a “just for fun” project never ranks high in a busy schedule. That sent me off searching again.

It was about this time that there was a new version of Yojimbo released. It is basically a digital junk drawer for everything from bookmarks to serial numbers to passwords. I had tried the application out before but it was too “all encompassing” for me. But, with this new version, they included a tagging system and that was enough reason to try it again. I’m glad I did.

I downloaded the application and took out all that I didn’t want to have in it. I just wanted to organize quotes. I think it turned out looking pretty good.

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The Things I Like
-The tagging system is great and easy to use. You can have multiple words in a tag. For those of you not using tags, a tag is useful when searching for a theme or subject. For instance, if you had George Washington’s famous quote, “I cannot tell a lie” then you would want to tag it with “honesty.” That way, it would show up when you search for “honesty” even though the word isn’t in the quote. This is better than organizing by subject folders because quotes can be tagged with more than one tag.

– It’s simple to enter new quotes. It can all be done with the keyboard just tabbing between fields.

– It dates the entry of my quotes. I like to see the patterns in my quotes. So often, the quotes line directly with my stage in life. (mission=leadership quotes, college=marriage/motorcycle quotes, Cole=fatherhood quotes, etc)

-The interface is clean (though I did have to make it that way.)

Things I Don’t Like

– You are able to “export” a quote thru the menu bar or just dragging it to your desktop. It is exported as a text file so it’s compatible with everything. However, I wish that the exported files included the Name, Comments and Tags. Right now, it only exports the content.

– I’d like to be able to sync the database to different computers. I was able to find the folder structure and rsync it between my different Macs, but I’d like to do this by using the web by publishing the database to my ftp server. I could do this on my own, but it’d be nice to have it built in (and not have to use a .Mac account.)

For the Other Quote Organizers Out There

To have a more powerful quote book, you should always give as much background on the quote as possible. Where was it spoken or written? Who was the audience? When was it spoken? Was it in response to a question?

When you include details like this, the quote is much more commanding when used in a talk or letter.

Candace Has A Blog Too

For those that might be interested, my wife Candace recently started a blog too. It can be found at CandaceStucki.com. She writes updates on our nearly formed baby and just beams her overall goodness.

Speaking of the baby, it would be impossible to describe how excited I’m getting. We have about seven more weeks and it seems like forever. I’ve always thought that the bond between a father and a son is second only to the relationship of a husband and a wife. That male bond has always held a very, very special place in my heart.

Forty years ago, Boyd K. Packer informed:

A boy is not born to know that his father loves him. He must be told and shown and shown and told a thousand times or more. A father must be wise and patient, but most of all he must be consistent, and his expectations must be reasonable.

I can’t wait!