An Open Challenge for 2016

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For this new year, I’m posting an open challenge to family and friends. It will likely take you out of your comfort zone but I’m going to throw it out there anyway. My feelings will not be hurt, I will not be forever scarred, nor will our friendship suffer in any way if you disregard the challenge.

I’m sure that most of you know I’m a Latter-day Saint, commonly known as a “Mormon” in the general media. Yes, I only have one wife and no, I don’t drink alcohol, coffee or tea. You all should already know me so you should also be aware that I generally speak my mind and rarely go along with the crowd on just about anything. That said, my faith is, in fact, very important to me and I would like to offer you an opportunity to learn more about it.

In 2016, I ask you to reach out to the Latter-day Saint missionaries and invite them over to your house. There’s a series of lessons, in total no more than 6-8 hours or so, spread out as long as you would like be it days, weeks or months. The lessons are presented by young men and young women who spend 18-24 months away from home spreading the Gospel message on their own dime. Really listen to the lessons and take time to consider the messages. There’s no obligation to attend church and no obligation to have them back once the lessons are done. At the end, if you never want to see them again then tell them so and they will not come back.

For those family and friends who are already Latter-day Saints, at a minimum, hold regular Family Home Evenings and have regular family prayer throughout 2016. During your Family Home Evenings, mix in some spiritual lessons covering the material taught in the New Member Lessons. Take time to remember those truths taught in Primary that will lead us as eternal families back to our Father in Heaven and focus less on the distractions that we allow to be thrown in our path.

We are sent here to Earth to be happy, not only in the life to come but also today. The media would certainly try and convince you otherwise. Face it; drama, disaster, violence, and despair draw people in so that’s what you’ll see on the news. Regardless of all the rotten things that happen in the world each and every day, unmeasurable goodness happens as well. We are eternal beings and this life is a but a very small, though very significant, part of our existence.

It may sound funny to some but I know why I’m here on Earth. I know what’s expected of me and I know where I should be going. I also know that I’m far from perfect and require regular repentance and forgiveness in order to get where I need to go. I would hope that accepting this challenge will help you and your family to know the same things.

To invite the missionaries to your home and learn more, visit https://www.mormon.org

Problem Solved, Process Broken

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Spotify Family, Rant Mode On…

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So, who knew just how much of a headache the new Spotify Family Plan would be?

First. You can’t add anyone who is currently a Premium member. Okay, fine, I’ll let each family member expire and then add them.

Thinking I understood how this process would work I canceled my wife and daughter’s Premium accounts and patiently waited for them to expire. On the day my daughter’s account expired I signed up for Spotify Family and added her to the account.

A clunky process for sure but fairly easy.

Flash forward a few weeks…

Now my wife’s account expires. I login to Spotify expecting to upgrade my account and add another family member only to find that YOU CAN’T just add someone to the account. The only way to add another family member is to cancel your existing account and resubscribe.

Customer support at Spotify was completely unhelpful. I recommended a FAQ to explain this process but they apparently have no interest in doing so.

Fine, I’ll cancel and resubscribe…except that apparently you have to cancel your account, let it EXPIRE, and THEN resubscribe and add family members.

Almost enough to drive me to iTunes…now now, relax, breathe…

Simon Peter, Answering the Call

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Centuries ago when Jesus walked out of the wilderness after 40 days and nights, his eye fell upon a man who made his living sailing turbulent seas. Simon, commonly known as Peter, was the son of Jona and by vocation was a fisherman. He and his brother Andrew were partners with James and John in the fishing business. Peter, by no means an untested youth when he met Jesus, was married (Mark 1:30) and had pitted his strength against the sea for many years.

Peter’s early home had been at the fishing village of Bethsaida on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee; about the time of his first association with Jesus he and his family moved to Capernaum. The fishing business was apparently going very well since they owned their own boats and employed other men to work them. When Peter spoke of having “left all” to follow Jesus, the Lord never denied that Peter’s sacrifice of temporal possessions was great.

In temperament Peter was impulsive, stern and, until trained by experience, lacking in firmness. Jesus taught and trained Peter at every opportunity. He walked with him in the hills outside Capernaum and sat with him beside the sea. Jesus stayed in Peter’s home, ate at his table, and gave blessings to his family and friends. Peter watched the Son of God cast out devils, heal the sick, and restore the blind. Like us, Peter had many human weaknesses, yet in spite of them he ultimately overcame the temptations of the Adversary and the frailties of the flesh, and faithfully served his Lord as the appointed leader of the Twelve.

Peter’s faith reached heights essentially unequaled in the New Testament. It so surged within him that upon the Lord’s invitation Peter climbed out of his fishing boat and “walked on the water, to go to Jesus.” (Matthew 14:29) This act of faith has never been recorded of any other mortal man.

Despite the miracles, with such rigorous challenges and “hard sayings” in Jesus’ teachings, many followers simply could not endure “and walked no more with Him.” However, as the number of followers dwindled, Peter was the more conspicuous by his presence. He knew no other way and declared, “Lord, … thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:60–68)

With Jesus leading the way, Peter, James, and John ascended “an high mountain” and there witnessed the transfiguration of the Son of God. His face shone as brightly as the sun at noonday and his raiment was as radiant as sunlight itself. Heavenly messengers appeared, bestowing upon this First Presidency every needful key for their ministry. They heard the voice of God declare, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Matthew 17:5)

Peter still had many lessons yet to learn in the days ahead. With his brethren he was to receive the Lord’s supper, to hear Jesus pray for their unity, and to discover that one of their number was “a devil.” (John 6:70) Regardless of what lay before him, the transfer of authority was now complete. Endowed with power from on high and armed with certainty of conviction, he descended with Jesus into the valley of the shadow of death. The supporting circle around Jesus continued to get smaller and smaller.

When men came to take Jesus, Peter was restrained by the Lord himself as he offered a defense. He could not go with him, but neither could he flee. Denying that he knew him, Peter stood in the courtyard of the accusers and saw the indignities his Lord and Savior suffered. Then, he did what all repentant men have cause to do. Silently and alone, he “went out, and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:62) Peter had been so certain that his strength was sufficient for such times and that, if necessary, he could withstand the evil alone.

The Lord [had] said [to Peter], Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And [Peter] said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. (Luke 22:31-33)

Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus [then] said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. (Matthew 26:33-34)

But [Peter] spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. (Mark 14:31)

…and so they came for Jesus and…

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:10-11)

Still not fully understanding what was to come, Peter watched as they took Jesus, his dear friend, his beloved Savior, away…

And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. (John 18:15-16)

Now Peter sat without the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. (Matthew 26:69-73)

And Peter said, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:60-62)

In the kingdom of God no man’s strength alone is sufficient. This sobering and sorrowing realization—realization that he was not, of himself, capable of what God required—was likely the final ingredient in Peter’s preparation.

It was Peter who held the keys of presidency in Christ’s church. Peter’s bravery was not perfect at first. Three times in the courtyard of the house where the Lord stood trial for His life, Peter denied that he knew Jesus. Yet this incident shows a strength, for Peter and John were the only apostles seen in the den of their enemies.

Peter must be measured by his success in carrying out the instructions of the Lord. He denied that he knew Jesus, but not the truth of the gospel. Peter’s actions both before and after demonstrate clearly his conviction to the Lord. Christ was his friend. Christ entrusted him to lead after His death. Peter watched his Lord, his Savior, his friend suffer and die resisting every desire to reach out and provide immediate rescue.

Peter learned the truth of all he’d been taught by the Lord. The road itself was clearly difficult. Regardless, he carried out the instructions with which he’d been entrusted and served diligently and faithfully as the Lord expected and knew that he would do.

In our service within our homes, in the church or even elsewhere in the world, Christ doesn’t really call the person whom we are today. As in the example of Peter, He calls the person whom we can and must become on our path to perfection. When He calls, have faith and follow.

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