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If Today Was Your Last.......

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With my mom, the nurse at the care center said part of her spirit is moving on already to the other side. She had Alzheimer's so no communication much. But I feel like that's what was happening with your FIL before he went to the other said and how the spirit was so strong. Sorry for your loss, but sounds like it's an ideal situation to have had him be given so much love and him be sent off like that was amazing. Good for you and your extended family and husband!

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Condolences on your loss.  I think that most of us can say that there are things (and, indeed, most of us can say there are many things) in which we need to improve.  There are a few thoughts that give me comfort in light of that need for improvement.  Since all of us mortals are fallen, no matter how "good" we are, really, we cannot merit anything of ourselves, as Alma tells us.  See Alma 22:14.  Lehi reinforces this idea: No one can make it back into the presence of God except through the "merits, and mercy, and grace" of Christ.  2 Nephi 2:8.  It is only because Christ intercedes for us that we merit any blessing from God, really.  See Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5.  King Benjamin's people understood that it is only through Christ's Atonement that we may be saved and exalted.  See Mosiah 4:1-2.  As King Benjamin told his people, Christ is the only means by which salvation comes.  Mosiah 4:5-7.

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1 hour ago, Peppermint Patty said:

Maybe I'm being too hard on myself, but I have so many areas in my life that need a lot of improvement. 

And my condolences to you and your family on your loss,

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I feared growing old and dying, ever since I was young. I had some fears of oblivion, later I basically felt I will have left too much undone and left not enough of myself behind to be remembered and remembered as someone worth remembering. All the random acts of kindness haven't done it for my self-image of all who I'm supposed to be. Mostly as an unmarried childless man, turning forty, though people 10 years younger than me all look 10 years older than me. Good genes or the power of the covenant, I don't know. But the biological clock hasn't stopped. I think about such things and death all the time.

However, in every moment when facing death, I don't seem to feel very much. My car hydroplaned off a ramp, I was calm and collected, whatever happens-happens, just a splash of water. Once, I thought I was dying (I was simply starting to pass out, from standing in a non-moving line), my eyes were seeing spots, I slumped down fearing I was about to fall down, thinking, fairly alarmed "is this it?!" "I'm going to wake up in a hospital or not at all" and "those other things are someone else's problems, because my time is up," I cared more about my dignity and disturbing the people around me if nothing happened, than actually fearing I was dying. Sitting on the ground, I very slowly recovered while no one was disturbed that I sat down. Sure, I cared later, got to rethink my priorities, but strange there was no panic or sadness. This is unusual?

The contradictions don't end there, I also fantasize of getting attacked and killing imaginary people in fantastical situations, and I like to watch action films and nature programs where bugs eat each other, and yet I'm very squeamish and I don't like to hunt or kill bugs.

Edited by Pyreaux
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2 hours ago, Peppermint Patty said:

Before anyone left, he wanted all of us to have a family prayer.  It was the most touching experience and there wasn't a dry eye in the room, when he prayed, "for a time we will be separated, though we will be reunited." I've never felt the spirit so strong. 

I'm grateful that you and your family were blessed with this powerful outpouring of the Spirit!

I had a housemate in America who joined the Church after having a number of such experiences whilst working in a regional hospital in Colorado. He had previously worked for a decade in Chicago, and as a respiratory therapist, he had been with thousands of patients as they passed, but he said he was totally unprepared for what he saw and felt being in the room with faithful Latter-day Saint patients and their families at the end of life.

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3 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Pogi, that sacrament talk was really good. I wish I could give your post multiple heart upvotes. It's quite clear that you practice contemplative prayer. I know you've mentioned it before, but I think this is the first time (that I remember) reading your thoughts about it in detail.

At risk of a slight derail, do you mind sharing how you've learned to pray in this manner? Are there any specific texts or teachers that have particularly spoken to you? In the Catholic tradition, as I think you know from previous comments of yours, there are vasts resources. It was cool to see an LDS resource (the video) that taught some foundational premises. 

LDS friends! Contemplative prayer is for all Christians. I don't see how it could make you less "LDS" or more "Catholic" -- it can just bring you closer to God in a direct, ineffable way.

Thanks for the kind words.  Here is the first part of my talk (where I give credit to Catholicism) if you are interested:



Have you been saved?  This is a question which some Christians may ask, and which President Oaks (or Elder Oaks at the time) attempts to address in his 1998 conference talk of the same title, “Have You Been Saved?”  

Elder Oaks enlightens us in his talk that the word ‘salvation’ actually has at least 6 different connotations for Latter-day Saints - so what may seem like a simple and straightforward question for some Christians, may be a bit more complicated and nuanced for Latter-day Saints to answer.  

In short, Elder Oaks sums up how Latter-day Saints can answer that question, by stating “yes”, or “yes, but with conditions.”   

I want to focus my talk on one aspect of salvation that Elder Oaks touches on in his talk that I believe deserves a little closer attention, which is salvation in the present.   With our committed and focused attention on that future event and goal of salvation (or exaltation), I wonder if we take enough opportunity to redirect our attention to the present, in order to fully realize and appreciate the gift of salvation that exists right here, and right now, in the present moment.

Brigham Young said, “It is present salvation and the present influence of the Holy Ghost that we need every day to keep us on saving ground…”  On another occasion he stated, “I want present salvation. … Life is for us, and it is for us to receive it today, and not wait for the Millennium.  Let us take a course to be saved today.” 

David O. McKay called it, “Salvation here - here and now.”  He continued, “May we show to all that the gospel has been established in this dispensation for happiness and joy and salvation here in this life, as well as in the life to come. 

With our understanding that salvation (or exaltation) requires perfection, I wonder if we sometimes falsely conclude, even subconsciously, that perfection (or near-perfection) is required for salvation in the present.  Under such a paradigm, we can easily get stuck on the cycle of perfectionism as we strive to earn our salvation through our works; or worse, conclude that we are undeserving of present salvation through grace because of our imperfection.  

We understand from our doctrine that it is not our perfection and valiant efforts that brings grace, rather it is the other way around - it is grace that brings perfection through a transformational process, and it is grace that works in us and is the seed of good works.  Here is the irony in striving for perfection to be worthy of grace - perfection doesn’t need grace.  Perfection is whole and complete, but grace is for the broken, the down-trodden, the imperfect and fallible human who is entirely and utterly, and always will be an unprofitable servant.  In other words, grace is for us, now, here in our fallen state! 

I like the thought that has been expressed by the Biblical scholar J.B Philipps and echoed by Robert L. Miller who was a professor of ancient scripture and emeritus Dean of Religious Education at BYU, that heaven (or salvation) “is not, so to speak, the reward for ‘being a good boy’ (though many may seem to think so), but is the continuation and expansion of a quality of life which begins when a man’s central confidence is transferred from himself to Jesus Christ..” 

For far too long a period of my life, I envisioned happiness, salvation and grace as rewards for getting to the top of some mountain that I had to climb - a mountain which symbolized my unrealistic perception of what a deserving “good boy” really was.  This old line of thinking meant I had to conquer my weaknesses, imperfections and overcome all temptations in obedience, as I improved daily towards perfection.  Well, that desperate clamoring to the top of that proverbial mountain almost broke me.  Because no matter how hard I worked and no matter how hard I climbed, I could never seem to approach the summit.  There was always reason to believe that I wasn’t being a good enough boy.  There was always more that I believed that I could do.  

I thought happiness and salvation from my struggles would come with control of my behavior.  I just needed to try harder!  God would bless me for my works with happiness, I thought - but it didn't work!   It felt like I was standing on a treadmill trying to get to the top of Everest.  It didn't matter how often I read the scriptures, how quickly I repented, how much I magnified my callings, served where I could, gave all I had to the building of the kingdom of God, strived to be the best husband and dad, and was valiant in every possible way in striving for perfection in obedience - the summit never came into view, and nothing I did was ever enough.   

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught that “The prophet Nephi made an important contribution to our understanding of God’s grace when he declared, “...for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.  However, I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase “after all we can do.” We must understand that “after” does not equal “because.””

He continues, “We are not saved “because” of all that we can do. Have any of us done all that we can do? Does God wait until we’ve expended every effort before He will intervene in our lives with His saving grace?”

In my dark moment I was in desperate need of respite and guidance.   An idea came to mind, prompting me to begin a process of praying daily for 15 minutes in an effort to show my sincerity and hopefully receive some speck of grace that I could survive on.  

Looking back now, I don’t know why I chose 15 minutes as a specific amount of time that I should pray, or why I made it about time at all.  But, I am glad that I did because 15 minutes was just enough time for me to run out of things to say after a day or two, and it caused me to finally shut up.  And with that, over time, I learned a new skill and a new side of prayer called listening. 

At first, I was really upset with myself for not being able to focus.  I would just sit there watching my mind wander all over the place, occasionally peeking up at the clock to see how much longer I had to endure my own wandering thoughts, while occasionally trying to draw my attention back to communion with God.   I did this for some time before I realized that what I was doing may be similar to meditation, and I thought that maybe I could learn some principles from meditation to help me keep focused.  

I didn’t know anything about meditation really, so I asked google. In my search, I stumbled upon a few nuggets including the following by President David O. McKay. He said, “I think we pay too little attention to the value of meditation… Meditation is a form of prayer.” He says elsewhere, “Meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of The Lord.” 

I also stumbled upon a rich tradition in the Catholic faith of a practice of meditative prayer called “contemplative prayer”.  As I studied about the discipline I felt enlightened and inspired in the principles of prayer they taught and practiced.  I also studied Buddhist practices of meditation and gravitated towards the discipline of mindfulness meditation.  

I learned that no matter how hard I tried to focus, it was impossible to keep my mind from wandering, so I had to try a new and uncomfortable approach  - that of letting go of control.  I had to unpack my bag of what I thought was possible, and only put back in what was realistic.   My perfectionistic ideals and aspirations began to melt.  Instead of beating myself up for not being able to function at a level that I wanted, I learned principles of non-judgment and self-compassion as I began to accept my limits and be realistic of what I was capable of. 

There is one line in the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” that I think resonates with all of us to some degree in the context of our mortal lives.  It says, “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it...”  Anyone who has tried meditation knows exactly what wandering is all about.  Just as our mind is prone to wander, so too is our soul.  This is true for all of us in mortality, and sometimes much more so than we are comfortable with.   

In meditation when you notice your mind wandering, you simply and gently redirect your thoughts back to your center of attention.  

What began as a grueling and painful 15 minutes daily of trying to control my thoughts and trying to be better than I was, eventually evolved into a peaceful and sometimes even blissful practice of centeredness and compassion that I began to practice for 20 minutes twice daily.  


To answer your question, I mostly learned from a contemporary Benedictine monk named Laurence Freeman.  He was the first exposure I had to the practice, and he has several lectures on podcast that really spoke to me.  I've read John Maine's Essential Writings and Inner Castle by St Teresa of Avila. 

3 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

It has been life altering for me, and I'm pretty sure for Pogi, too.

More than you can know. 

Edited by pogi
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2 hours ago, JAHS said:

Right I have always interpreted that scripture to mean "we are saved by grace in spite of all we  do".

I like that!

I think if we were to reverse the phrasing in that verse, the meaning becomes more clear -  "[even] after all that we can do, it is by grace that we are saved" as if to emphasize that we cannot earn our salvation with all that we can do.   I think the word "even" is implied but left silent.  Unfortunately, I think the more common interpretation is to insert the word "only" instead of "even" - as in, "we are saved by grace [only] after all that we can do".  As Elder Uchtdorf notes, "how many of us have done all that we can do?"

Edited by pogi
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9 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Hamba, at some point a convert to the LDS church or a born-in-the-faith member is going to wonder why they don't have the "perfect" experiences and the "perfect" housemates that you constantly share here.

I am thoroughly perplexed by your response to my post. Where did I mention or even imply 'perfection'? My former housemate relied on a combination of meth, marijuana, and alcohol to self-medicate before he met the missionaries, and he carried the effects of those addictions with him post-conversion. He'd be equally perplexed by your dismissal of both him and his experience as somehow perfect.


I say this because the idea of perfection on this earth is actually antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is in the troughs that we find Christ, not in the crests.

Christ is the crests.


You seem to share only the crests.

I only share what I know. I'm genuinely sorry that offends you. Are you equally offended by the personal witnesses of God's power and goodness in the Gospels?

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10 hours ago, pogi said:

To answer your question, I mostly learned from a contemporary Benedictine monk named Laurence Freeman.  He was the first exposure I had to the practice, and he has several lectures on podcast that really spoke to me.

He was an early influence on me, too. My first introduction to Christian meditation was through his book The Good Heart, which recounts the thoughts of the Dalai Lama on some passages from the New Testament. I wasn’t Christian when I read it and was surprised to find out about it. 

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In submitting my last reply, I was a little pressed for time.  I wanted to mention this, also, from Joseph Smith:



“When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.”

History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp. 306–7; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Apr. 7, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, Thomas Bullock, and William Clayton, as reprinted in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), Salt Lake City UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Chapter 22, “Gaining Knowledge of Eternal Truths,” accessed on line at https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-joseph-smith/chapter-22?lang=eng on March 4, 2023.



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26 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

I have interpreted 2 Nephi 25:23 in light of what king Lamoni says in Alma 24:10-11:

"10 And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son.   11 And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain—"  (Alma 24:10–11)

So, to "sufficiently" "repent" is "all we can do". There is no true reconciliation for murder, repentance is all you can do, repentance is made sufficient "through the merits of [Christ]".

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2 hours ago, Kenngo1969 said:

In submitting my last reply, I was a little pressed for time.  I wanted to mention this, also, from Joseph Smith:


I remember a long time a go reading that he got this from freemasonry.


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