Saturday, June 13, 2009

Long Time...No Posts?

I have no excuses for my complete absence of posts. Well, I am going to try to get back into the swing of things. Just to catch everyone up, here are a few updates:

1. I will celebrate my 2-year mark as bishop on the 24th of this month. It's been a great experience. I've laughed, cried, worried, worked, and prayed like never before. I hope I can serve for much longer, but it's not up to me. I'll just make the most of the time I have.

2. Our stake is going on a Pioneer Trek later this month. What do you get when you combine 100-degree heat, no AC, camp food, and 250 Latter-day Saints (the vast majority of those being 12-18 year-old youth) walking 20 miles over 3 days? You get a great spiritual experience. I know...that is fuzzy math. But it all works out.

3. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is coming to Norman, Oklahoma! That's the good news. The bad news? The concert is on the same night that we return from the aforementioned Trek.

Check back soon for my next post. We'll talk about why temples are nice to look at, but even better to use for their intended purpose.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

I know, I know....I had mentioned my desire and resolve to post more often. I guess I am taking a "home teaching" view of this blog and getting it done once a month. But, least I'm doing better than most home teachers, right?? Uggghh...

Well, today is election day and I'm in Atlanta, Ga. for business. The nation (and the world) is abuzz with the pending outcome. I'm going to treat politics on this blog in much the same way I treat them at church. I'm staying neutral.

I will point out a few things about the election. However you choose to vote the country will go on. This election won't destroy the United States. I don't want to listen to "gloom and doom" predictions. I don't want to hear how our nation is headed for imminent destruction. We already know that at some point in the future things will be difficult. So why focus your time and effort on how bad it will be? Instead of spending your energies on weeping, wailing, and gnashing your teeth, why not enjoy your life? Sure, get your food storage together. Of course you should eliminate debt. It is wise to save. We all know these things. So...why waste your life worrying over future difficulties? Be prepared for those times, but live your life and smile.

Many will sit by the TV and watch the election returns. Some will moan and groan and predict that the president-elect will destroy the nation within 4 years. If that's you, I'd give you a bit of counsel. Spend less time predicting doom and spend more time making your country and your community the place you want it to be. Get your house in order and then serve others and help them with theirs. Life will go on. Make it worth living.

As for me, tonight I'm going to spend some time in the Atlanta temple.

Who knows...the world might not end until after the NEXT election.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Don't Give Up on Yourself...or Others!

First, I'm really sorry for the long time since my last post. I really need to get back on track. I was aiming for a post (or two) a week. Sometimes, I get pulled away by work, church responsibilities, school, and my family. Since the aforementioned list takes precedent over blogging I don't feel TOO bad, but I do enjoy the opportunity to share a thought or two.

I have been thinking lately on the idea of long-suffering. It's amazing to me that the Lord puts so much trust in us by giving us such great responsibilities. Sometimes I surprise myself by agonizing over Church callings. When I consider the fact that the Lord called me to be a parent of my children, my concern over callings seems to pale in comparison. The Lord called me to be a bishop. He must know something I don't. It's obvious that He has far more trust in us than we do in ourselves and others. Instead of thinking of reasons why we (or others) CAN'T magnify our callings, we should remember that the Lord in His infinite wisdom knows our potential. If the Master has confidence in us (by virtue of our call), don't we show a great lack of faith when we doubt ourselves? I have always loved the quote by J. Golden Kimball: "The Lord is far kinder to us than we are to ourselves".

When we are called by one of the Lord's servants we should NEVER turn it down, unless on conditions of unworthiness. We are given chances to serve and we grow in and through that service. When we decline callings out of fear (faithlessness) who benefits? Not you. Not your ward members. Not the Kingdom. God stretches His people by putting them in difficult situations and allowing them to struggle for a time. If we are faithful those struggles will become great sources of strength. Our faith will grow. Our fear will shrink. We will have conquered something small so when we are called to go through something REALLY difficult we will be steeled and ready for the challenge.

The same holds true of others. We should sustain them by helping them in any way we can. Thank them for teaching a Sunday school lesson. Compliment them on a talk delivered in sacrament meeting. I was once told we should go to church to uplift, not to be uplifted. I certainly agree with the sentiment and try to live by it.

Spencer W. Kimball once received a phone call from a mission president who was dealing with a troubled young missionary. The mission president and his wife were hosting the missionary in the mission home. One night the president awoke to find the young elder in their room standing over them with a knife. In a bit of a panic he had called Elder Kimball for counsel on what he should do. President Kimball's words were a great example of how we should strive to see each other succeed in our righteous endeavors. His advice to the mission president: "Save him".

Let's trust each other a bit more. Let's help each other a lot more. We can only put on the full armor of God if we are ready to enter the fray. Don't run from a calling (or a talk, lesson, etc.). When you say "yes" to your priesthood leader you are saying "yes" to our own eternal progression.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mission Optional?

I get a bit bothered when I hear a young man say that he is choosing to not serve a full-time mission. When I lived in another state I actually heard a young man tell me that he had prayed and felt that the Lord wanted him to marry instead of serving a mission. After all, he reasoned, he could always serve a mission with his wife later in his life. While that's certainly convenient, it's certainly not inspired. Living prophets have said that all worthy young men should serve. There's not much left for interpretation here. Serving a mission is a priesthood responsibility. A full-time mission is a truly critical aspect of a young man's spiritual development and maturation. The Lord can't mold a young man that refuses to answer the call. So...let's dispense with this false notion that missions are optional. Let's stop thinking of reasons to NOT serve and start redirecting some of that misplaced energy toward serving the Master.

I joined the Church in 1991. Two months after joining, I turned 19 years old. It would have been easy for me to not serve. I was the only member in my family. I was attending a small branch with about 25 active members. My then-girlfriend's father expected me to go. He simply worked on the assumption that one year after my baptism I would submit my papers (back then we still used actual paper) and go on my mission. At some point, his promptings paid off and I made the decision to serve. I left for my mission about 14 months after my baptism. In that time, my life changed in ways I cannot explain in this blog entry. I am no masterwork, but I learned what it meant to be shaped by the Master's hand. I could never gain those experiences anywhere else at any other time. Young men cannot afford to miss the opportunity to serve. We, as Church members, cannot afford for them to miss it, either.

So...are missions optional? Sure they are. Then again, living the commandments is optional, too. I, for one, prefer to live the commandments. Let's encourage our young priesthood holders to truly live the commandments by anwering the call of the Master.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Location Location Location

I must say that living so close to a temple has spoiled me. The last time I lived this close to a temple was when my wife and I were first married and living in Provo, Utah. At this point in my life, I have truly come to appreciate my close proximity to living so close to the House of the Lord. In fact, if I were to ever move again I would certainly choose to live in a city within an hour of a temple. When I first joined the Church, there were only 44 temples in operation. Now, just 17 years later there are 126 temples dotting the globe. I still enjoy hearing stories from our members about the days in which Oklahoma City was in the Manti temple district and the wards would take bus trips to attend the temple. Now, I can get to the temple in just under 25 minutes.

There are people today that sell all they own in order to receive the blessings of the temple. Some of these faithful Saints sacrifice all of their worldly possessions in order to go to the temple just once. It is difficult for some of us to even imagine that level of sacrifice. It doesn't make a monthly (or quarterly or yearly, depending on your circumstances) temple visit seem like that much of a hardship, does it?

I would encourage you to visit the temple. It is a sacred place. When faced with life's challenges, put those worries aside and go visit the Lord in His house. He will teach you and comfort if you go prepared and humble. I can assure you that if you go prepared to be instructed by the Master you will get far more out of the trip than you were required to sacrifice.

Friday, August 1, 2008


First, I wanted to thank Emily Jensen for writing about Bishop Blogging in MormonTimes this morning. I really appreciated the story and hope it brings a few visitors to the site.

Now, I wanted to address the issue of confidentiality. Will this bishop cross the line in order to attract a few visitors to his site? Will he risk a confidence in order to post a salacious entry?

Folks....this is a blog. I write about general topics that will, hopefully, have a positive impact on members and non-members alike. I am not going to write about subjects that would risk the trust of my ward members. I meant what I said in Em's article...I won't write anything on this blog that I wouldn't say in a sacrament meeting.

If you are looking for something salacious, then you have come to the wrong site. The goal of this blog is to bring souls unto Christ, not damage a sacred trust.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Missionary Successes

We are preparing for six (you read that correctly!) baptisms this Saturday. I have often wondered what constitutes a missionary-minded ward. Well, I have a few ideas to share. This advice is worth what you paid for it, so be mindful that I am Bishop Davis and not L. Tom Perry.

When people ask what our ward is doing to encourage missionary successes I tend to list a few things we do that I am most proud of.

First, we talk about missionary work. I dedicate about 70% of my weekly PEC meetings in discusssing the missionary efforts of our sister missionaries. Now, here's the thing that makes all the difference: we get members involved! It's not a deep mystery of the Kingdom how to get baptisms in a ward. If you get members involved in the work, it works. I have called ward missionaries from the priesthood quorum and ward auxilary leaders. It's not that I only call presidency members, but I call those that exhibit leadership qualities. My ward missionaries include a former high councilor, former High Priests group leader, former (and current) YW presidency members, etc. That way, the ward mission leader has leaders (in terms of personalities and not necessarily callings) to take the missionary efforts back to the quorums and auxilaries.

Second, I make sure to have the YM, YW, and Primary organizations lead out on missionary efforts. The leaders of those groups go to the homes of inactive members of their groups. They challenge parents to bring their children to church. They invite less actives and nonmembers to their activities. The kids get involved too. I have one active deacon in my ward. He is the deacons quorum president. I gave him a charge: take care of anyone that belongs to your quorum. If visitors show up, put your arm around them and let them know they have a friend in the Church. Help visitors feel welcome and they will continue to come. I told him that the Lord will test us. If we take care of those people He sends to us, He will send us more and our ward will grow. This young deacon's quorum president has faithfully followed that counsel. This Sunday, one of our baptisms is a young man...and he is deacon age.

Third, I have a wonderful ward mission leader. Simply put, our WML is excited about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He holds ward open houses at our building every month. He gets members to commit to exchanges with the sister missionaries. When he speaks in sacrament meeting....well, you guessed it...he talks about sharing the Gospel.

Sure, we could be doing better. And we will do better. Soon, we will regularly hold missionary lessons in member homes. Members will be involved in teaching their neighbors. For now, I am happy to re-live the best 2 years of my life by facilitating our ward's missionary efforts.

Still, we have a lot of work to do. After all, missionary work does not end at the waters of baptism, does it? On August 4, I will celebrate my 17th year as a member of the Lord's Church. That anniversary keeps me excited to keep missionary work going strong!