Facing Uncertainty with Faith

Man facing a wall of waterLast year, I wrote a blog post called “Diving through the Waves of Uncertainty.” It’s a personal story of when I was 17. I was faced with a barrage of persecution, contradiction, and what I now call “scornography.” Fortunately, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I was able to find my way. I’m sharing this link here because I feel prompted to share it. It might help someone who’s passing through the same fire.


I see scornography—media that mocks, belittles, blames, slams, and tears down—the same way I see pornography. If you spend time with it, it’s venom will cross the blood-brain barrier and spread like black ink across your mind. It will bind you and block your ability to see and understand God’s hand in your life. There’s not much difference between the two when you consider the damage they cause.

A Mountain to Climb

We all have the same mountain to climb. We’ll climb different faces, hike trails of our choosing, meander from camp to camp at the base. That doesn’t matter much. What matters is that God our Father stands at the peak, offering His help. If we can manage to lift our eyes from the trail we’re on at the moment, we might just see Him there. He is always willing to help when we ask for it with all our hearts. This I know for certain.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11–13.)

In spite of grinding weakness, I keep looking for the top of the mountain. In tatters, bloodied knees, and a broken spirit, I intend to keep climbing. I don’t know if I’ll reach it in one piece or not, but for now, I’m taking one step, one confession, one slice of humble, and one prayer at a time.

Alma’s Interview Questions

The Conversion of Alma [the Younger] by Gary L. Kapp
Many readers of the Book of Mormon are familiar with these three striking questions from Alma the Younger, recorded in Alma chapter 5, verse 14:

And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, [1] have ye spiritually been born of God? [2] Have ye received his image in your countenances? [3] Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

Did you know that, in this same chapter, one of the longest in the book, Alma poses 45 “interview” questions. I say interview because they address what’s in the human heart at the deepest levels.

If you’d like to conduct a rigorous self-interview, ask yourself all these questions and give yourself a score of 1–5 for each answer (1, meaning “I’m not doing so well” to 5, meaning, “I’m doing great”), then add the score (225 is perfect).

  1. And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? (v. 6)
  2. Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? (v. 6)
  3. And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell? (v. 6)
  4. And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they [fathers in captivity] destroyed? (v. 8)
  5. And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? (v. 9)
  6. And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? (v. 10)
  7. Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? (v. 10)
  8. What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell? (v. 10)
  9. Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? (v. 11)
  10. And was he not a holy prophet? (v. 11)
  11. Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them? (v. 11)
  12. And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? (v. 14)
  13. Have ye received his image in your countenances? (v. 14)
  14. Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? (v. 14)
  15. Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? (v. 15)
  16. Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body? (v. 15)
  17. I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth? (v. 16)
  18. Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you? (v. 17)
  19. Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God? (v. 18)
  20. I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? (v. 19)
  21. I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? (v. 19)
  22. I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil? (v. 20)
  23. And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? (v. 22)
  24. Behold, what will these things testify against you? (v. 22)
  25. Behold will they not testify that ye are murderers, yea, and also that ye are guilty of all manner of wickedness? (v. 23)
  26. Behold, my brethren, do ye suppose that such an one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white? (v. 24)
  27. And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now? (v. 26)
  28. Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? (v. 27)
  29. Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? (v. 27)
  30. That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins? (v. 27)
  31. Behold, are ye stripped of pride? (v. 28)
  32. Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? (v. 29)
  33. And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions? (v. 30)
  34. And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? (v. 39)
  35. Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? (v. 39)
  36. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? (v. 45)
  37. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? (v. 45)
  38. And now my beloved brethren, I say unto you, can ye withstand these sayings; [?] (v. 53)
  39. yea, can ye lay aside these things, and trample the Holy One under your feet; [?] (v. 53)
  40. yea, can ye be puffed up in the pride of your hearts; [?] (v. 53)
  41. yea, will ye still persist in the wearing of costly apparel and setting your hearts upon the vain things of the world, upon your riches?
  42. 5Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them? (v. 55)
  43. And now, my brethren, what have ye to say against this? (v. 58)
  44. For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? (v. 59)
  45. And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he [the shepherd] not drive him out? (v. 59)

“A Pivotal Point in My Life”


I listened to a conference talk from Mervyn B. Arnold this morning, from October 2010. I remember listening to it when it was first given. I love this story from his wife Devona when she was 15 years old.

Shortly after my sweetheart, Devonna, and I were married, she shared with me a story about how she learned in her youth this important doctrine that we are free to choose but that we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. With the help of my daughter Shelly, I would like to relate Sister Arnold’s experience:

“When I was 15 years old, I often felt that there were too many rules and commandments. I wasn’t sure that a normal, fun-loving teenager could enjoy life with so many restrictions. Furthermore, the many hours spent working on my father’s ranch were seriously dipping into my time with my friends.

“This particular summer, one of my jobs was to ensure that the cows grazing on the mountain pasture did not break through the fence and get into the wheat field. A cow grazing on the growing wheat can bloat, causing suffocation and death. One cow in particular was always trying to stick her head through the fence. One morning, as I was riding my horse along the fence line checking on the cattle, I found that the cow had broken through the fence and gotten into the wheat field. To my dismay, I realized that she had been eating wheat for quite some time because she was already bloated and looked much like a balloon. I thought, ‘You stupid cow! That fence was there to protect you, yet you broke through it and you have eaten so much wheat that your life is in danger.’

“I raced back to the farmhouse to get my dad. However, when we returned, I found her lying dead on the ground. I was saddened by the loss of that cow. We had provided her with a beautiful mountain pasture to graze in and a fence to keep her away from the dangerous wheat, yet she foolishly broke through the fence and caused her own death.

As I thought about the role of the fence, I realized that it was a protection, just as the commandments and my parents’ rules were a protection. The commandments and rules were for my own good. I realized that obedience to the commandments could save me from physical and spiritual death. That enlightenment was a pivotal point in my life.” (Emphasis added.)