Sunday, April 27, 2008

One of My Heroes

"There is no such thing as false hope, only false hopelessness."

-Chad Hymas
When every missionary returns home from his assignment, he reports to his local Stake High Council. I reported to the Tooele Utah South Stake High Council the Tuesday after I returned home from Ecuador. I walked into the High Council room and saw a long table lined by twelve chairs, six on each side. At the head of the table was another table with three chairs. More chairs lined the walls on either side of the table.
I sat in a chair along the edge of the wall and waited for my time to speak. A younger man in a wheel chair rolled into the room and asked if I could help him with his laptop computer. I was happy to comply as he took his place at the table as a member of the High Council.
As I talked about my experiences in Ecuador and shared my testimony of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith, the man in the wheel chair didn't stop smiling.
A few days later, I received a call from the man in the wheelchair and learned his name was Chad Hymas. He asked if I could accompany him and speak with him at a ward within our stake. I happily agreed. (If you know me, you know I love to speak in Church).
The next Sunday, I went to the ward and presented my message. Then Chad began his talk. He praised me for my testimony and my ability to convey it. And he told his story.
For years, Chad had been active and vibrant. He was married and had children. He loved athletics and working outdoors. By his mid-twenties, he had accomplished his goal of owning an Elk Ranch. But on April 3, 2001 everything changed.
Chad was hurrying to go see his son take his first steps. First, he needed to feed his elk. He loaded a one-ton bale of hay onto his tractor, but by accident, the bale slipped from the tractor's forks and landed on his head.
His neck was broken, and he became a twenty-seven-year-old quadriplegic.
Yet the bale of hay didn't break Chad's spirit. Despite painful surgeries and physical therapy, Chad has not stopped moving forward, filled with gratitude to God for the many blessings He has given him. (Click here to read Chad's accomplishments).
I left that meeting filled with love for Chad. He was a man I wanted to be like.
Thankfully, over the next year, I had the opportunity to speak with Chad several more times.
Today, Chad spoke to our ward. He told of an experience he had with his son, the same son who started walking on the same day Chad lost the ability to walk. Chad's son had been preparing to be baptised, and Chad was trying to teach him about faith, that faith means believing in things which aren't seen but which are true.
After their discussion, his son wanted proof that Chad could once walk since he was only a baby when Chad became a quadriplegic. Chad pointed to the scars on his neck where the doctors had repaired his fractured spine. Then he pointed to his hip and the scars from where the doctors took some of his hip bone to repair his neck.
His son looked at the scars and said, "Dad, those scars on your neck and your hip are getting better. You'll be walking soon just like me."
Chad wanted to explain to his son about spinal columns, but he waited. That night, his wife discouraged him from telling his son that it was unlikely that he would ever walk again.
The next day, Chad sat down with his son and said, "Thank you for teaching me about faith and hope. And you're right. I will walk again. It may be tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or in the next life. But I will walk again."
After Chad finished his story, he turned to us and said, "My son taught me that there is no such thing as false hope, only false hopelessness."
I broke down and sobbed like a child. You see, for the past few weeks, I've been feeling hopeless and worthless. My current search for law-related employment has proven fruitless and frustrating. No one in the Utah legal job market has been interested in me. And here was Chad Hymas, a man confined to a wheel chair who may never walk again in this life. He was telling me to be of good cheer and to be happy.
To hope.
That's because through Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel, we have every reason to hope.
Chad Hymas is one of my heroes, and his message today was an answer to prayer. I hope that I will one day be able to stand at least half as tall as he.
To learn more about Chad or to invite him to come speak to you or your organization, visit his website at
To invite missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to your home, click here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Danger of Gospel Hobbies

The media seems obsessed with the raids on the FLDS compound in Eldorado, Texas. And while I'm fundamentally opposed to the practices of members of the FLDS Church, I'm equally appalled at Texas' disregard for the Constitutional rights of the FLDS parents at the compound who are not abusing their children in any way. I've learned from excellent professors in criminal law that people ought to be punished for things they have actually done and not because they believe in unpopular things.
After this post, you will find a discussion on the practice of polygamy among the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the reasons why it was discontinued. I'd invite you to read it.
My intent in this post is not to discuss the FLDS raid or the practice of polygamy. Rather, the events in Texas over the past few weeks have caused me to reflect on the danger of gospel hobbies. Now, I'm not talking about church basketball, softball, scrapbooking, or any other types of get-togethers. Gospel hobbies are doctrinal topics which dominate our religious perspective to the detriment of all others.
Imagine the Gospel as a beautiful grand piano. A standard piano has eighty-eight keys. And although there are more than eighty-eight Gospel topics, imagine that each key represents a Gospel topic. Certainly, each topic has a beautiful tone. But alone, each tone sounds ghostly and hollow. When played with other keys, however, an infinite catalog of music, melody, and harmony opens up before us.
That's the way the Gospel is if we embrace it in its entirety. As we see how each topic intertwines and relates to another, heaven's music begins to play within us, and we recognize that all topics testify of the Divinity of Jesus Christ, that He is the Savior of all mankind, and that only through Him Eternal Life is possible.
Gospel hobbyists, on the other hand, are those who are content to pound out an awkward tune using only one or a few keys while ignoring the dozens of others on the keyboard. I've known some who focused exclusively on the need for righteous works, others focus on the Second Coming, some focus on homosexuality, others on pioneers, some on polygamy, still others who perpetually ponder about the thorn in Paul's flesh, and the list could continue for pages. These topics become the glasses through which they see everything, throwing everything else out of focus.
The most devastating effect of a gospel hobby is that the hobby replaces Christ as the center of the hobbyist's faith.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the direct result of a gospel hobby: plural marriage. While God has occasionally permitted and even commanded polygamous marriages, (see "Polygamy," infra), He has made it clear that the unauthorized practice of plural marriage is an abomination. (Jacob 2:22-30).
In 1890, the Prophet Wilford Woodruff officially ended the practice of plural marriage among the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has seen in vision that if the Church continued to practice plural marriage, the Federal Government of the United States would have destroyed the Church. (Official Declaration 1). He and the majority of the Church understood that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was just that, the Church of Jesus Christ. Not the Church of Polygamy. And if the Church were destroyed, then the work of salvation of both the living and the dead through the Atonement of Jesus Christ would cease.
Thus, because Christ remained at the center of lives of President Woodruff and the majority of Mormons, the Church moved on without trouble as it left polygamy behind.
There were those, however, who rejected President Woodruff, including the founders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Polygamy, their gospel hobby, became the center of their lives. They lived to perpetuate polygamy. Christ and His living Words fell out of their lives.
The FLDS Church and the recent events in Eldorado should stand as a warning to all those who hang onto their gospel hobbies.
So how do we avoid the dangers of gospel hobbies? We must keep Christ at the center of our lives. We must be willing to read all of the scriptures. And we must be willing to accept all of the doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It's only then that the music of eternity will begin to sound within us and bring us home to God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Once In A Lifetime

Yesterday, my wife and I attended the Solemn Assembly at the Conference Center in which we, with other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sustained Thomas S. Monson as Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In a Church with more than 13 million members and in a state with more than a 1 million members of the Church, it's rare to receive a ticket to attend a session of General Conference, even though the conference center seats 20,000. And the odds of holding a ticket to attend a Solemn Assembly are even less. Yet Misty and I were there, and we will never forget the experience.

After waiting in line for some time, my wife and I took our seats in the balcony of the Conference Center more than an hour before services began. We watched as thousands of Latter-day Saints filed into the auditorium. In the static of thousands of conversations, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsed the hymns they would sing.

Then the static stopped. And all stood. An electric witness filled the air, and President Monson entered the meeting hall. By the power of the Holy Ghost, I knew at that moment that he is the Prophet of God and the mouthpiece of the Lord Jesus Christ. And he holds the same keys which Peter held anciently. (See Matthew 16:18-19).

Services commenced, and after an opening hymn and prayer, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf conducted the business of the solemn assembly. First, called on the members of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to stand. It was proposed that they sustain Thomas Spencer Monson as Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and President of the Church and members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. Their vote was unanimous. Then the Twelve Apostles stood. Their vote was unanimous. Then the quorums of the Seventy, the Patriarchs of the Church, and the Presiding Bishopric stood. Their vote was unanimous.

President Uctdorf then called on all members of the High Priest and Elders Quorums to stand. Inasmuch as I am an ordained Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood of the Church, I stood. President Uchtdorf proposed that we sustain Thomas S. Monson as President of the Church. I felt the power of God from my head to my toes as I raised my hand to sustain him. And I will sustain him as long as he remains on the Earth.

Members of the Quorums of the Aaronic Priesthood then stood and sustained President Monson. The sisters of the Relief Society, the world's largest women's organization, stood, including my wife, and sustained him also. The Young Women, ages 12-17, also stood and sustained President Monson. Finally, all the members of the Church stood, and again we raised our hands, united together, to sustain President Monson.

I know that Thomas S. Monson is God's Prophet today. And his counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are true Prophets, Seers, Revelators, and Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Listen to their words, and they will guide you in the paths of truth and righteousness which end at the Throne of Grace, even the Throne of God the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

If you would like to learn more about these living Prophets and Apostles, click here, or invite Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to visit your home.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's that Time Again

This weekend is the 178th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Conference will be in five sessions, four of which will be broadcasted live online. On Saturday, either in the morning or afternoon but most likely in the morning, President Thomas S. Monson will be sustained by the general membership of the Church as President, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. And a new Apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ will be called.

Here are the times for each broadcasted session (all times are Mountain Daylight Savings Time):

10:00 AM

12:00 PM

10:00 AM

12:00 PM