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12-18-2022 A Ministering Message. Merry Christmas (updated 12-18 later in the day)

Dear Family and Friends. Merry Christmas to each of you. One more week and it will be Christmas day. A day to spend with family, a day to reflect on the birth and life of Jesus Christ. A day that brings so much joy, and some sadness. Those who have estranged family ties have lost a loved one or feel alone and life seems hopeless. To these, I testify that your Heavenly Parents and Jesus Christ are very aware of you. They know how heartbroken you are. They wait with open arms to lift you to a much higher station in life. But, you must truly reach out to them with all your heart. That is the gift they want from each of us. Our HEARTS!!!!

What We Can Give President Uchtdorf said that we, “like the Wise Men of old, should seek the Christ and lay before Him the most precious of gifts: a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We should offer Him our love. We should give Him our willingness to take upon ourselves His name and walk in the path of discipleship. We should promise to remember Him always, to emulate His example, and to go about doing good.” We cannot offer perfection, and the Savior does not expect it, President Uchtdorf said. “But He does require that we bring as gifts our best efforts to move ourselves, one foot in front of the other, walking in the ways He has prepared and taught.” The Savior’s Gifts to Us “The Savior’s gifts to us are breathtaking,” President Uchtdorf said. He explained that through the Atonement, the Savior offers us immortality, forgiveness, and eternal life. Though some of Christ’s gifts to us will be given only when our time on earth ends, President Uchtdorf emphasized the many gifts that the Savior gives every day. “He promises to be with us, to come to us when we need comfort, to lift us when we stumble, to carry us if need be, to cry, laugh, mourn, and rejoice with us. Every day He offers to take us by the hand and help transform ordinary life into extraordinary spiritual experiences.” Christ the King Has Come

President Uchtdorf concluded, “Of course, we do not need a Christmas holiday or Christmas traditions to remember Jesus Christ, the Savior. … May each Christmas season remind us to lift up our voices and fill our hearts with joy and gratitude that Christ the King has come! Christ lives! He is real. He is our Redeemer at Christmas and always.”

I know as I always seem to do I go from one subject to the next. I'm trying to "Hear Him". I'm trying to follow the promptings, the thoughts, and the feelings I have. I hope and pray that as you spend time here, you also will feel his spirit and love for you.

Please excuse any advertisements that come on with youtube links. I thought I had figured out to put these links in without them. But, I'm still learning

I heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This week I was having a texting conversation with a good friend. I asked and received his permission to put this conversation in here. Please keep in mind, when I speak I am only relating what I have been learning. These are Larsen 101 thoughts as I have been learning. The spirit has impressed these thoughts for me. But, the basic principle of "Hear Him" I do believe applies to all.

Russ :

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... I can't remember if it was my turn to provide the devotional thoughts for today, but just in case LOL. . .

There were just a few things I read this morning that we've all read a thousand times before that I thought I'd share that to me seemed particularly interesting.

First off is that with every passing day I am increasingly amazed that there is NO situation we face in our world that has not been addressed by the prophets in the Book of Mormon. It's incredible. These are not in chronological order. I couldn't help but think of the United States and how blessed we are and could be if everyone were righteous. In 3 Nephi 6:5, it says, "And now there was nothing in all the land to hinder the people from prospering continually, except they should fall into transgression." When you consider the divinely inspired Constitution of the United States as our form of government and the way we've been blessed well beyond any nation in the history of the earth, that scripture sounds like it was written for us (which of course it was) or about us and not the Nephites.

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I also couldn't help but think of many in our society both here and globally when the leader of the Gadianton Robbers Giddianhi was telling Lachoneus that if they would just give up all of their lands and possessions and come and join them they could be their brethren and be "partners of our substance." Where have we heard that before? Let's just give everyone thousands of dollars per month just for existing and it will be awesome. No one will have to work and we'll all have plenty of money to do whatever we want," only at some point there won't be anyone producing anything. In the next chapter (4) of course, it explains that "for there was no way that they could subsist save it were to plunder and rob and murder." Who could have guessed that without the ability to steal from others they wouldn't be able to survive?

I was again reminded of much of what you hear today where Satan has convinced people that religion is just mind control to try to enslave you. I'm speaking of everyone from all religions, but specifically, the things you hear from those who have been liberated from the patriarchal oppression of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sound remarkably like the things mentioned in Helaman 16:18-21. "Why won't he show himself unto us like he will those in Jerusalem? Aren't we as good as they are?" "Funny that you claim he's going to come to a place where none of us can verify whether it's true or not what with the internet being 2,000 years away and all." "You're using cunning words to try to keep us down so that we have to depend on your words to teach us so we'll yield ourselves to you all the days of our lives. Real tricky, but we aren't going to fall for your 'sky-Daddy' delusional nonsense." ". . .yea, he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and against that which should come."

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What a sobering reminder that we have to be on guard at all times and more so now than at any time in the history of the world when considering how astonishingly quickly they went from pure righteousness to off the deep end. I thought it was really instructive that in verse 1 of 3 Nephi chapter 2 it says that they "began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven. . ." Are we there yet? I don't think we are just yet, but I also think we'd better make sure we're not. I love that we've put the James Webb telescope into space so we can see farther into space than at any time in history and view heretofore unimaginable images and yet what does the scientific community and the world take from that? Not that God's power and creations are mind-boggling, but "YAY US!! Look at what we humans can do!!! Creating those billions and trillions of planets that are thousands and millions of times larger than earth is nothing, but let's talk about how cool it is that we were able to put an instrument out there into space to look at them!!!!!

But the scripture that I loved the most and that I have been working really hard to master and hope everyone will is 3 Nephi 6:13. "Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God."

Thanks for attending the devotional. (Russ Butler)

O Holy Night: Lindsey Sterling


Loved your thoughts. How true and accurate. Can I put your whole quote with your name in the blog that I’m working on?

I think you have really hit the nail on its head.

I think we so often forget the BoM is written for us.

If it happened there it is and will happen here and now. I believe it was President Hinkley who said something to the effect. "The Book of Mormon narrative is a chronicle of nations long since gone. But in its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired, and inspiring concerning the solutions to those problems (late Mormon prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley)."

Thanks so much for sharing.

Russ :

For sure, Steve. I’m happy to have you quote me on any of that.

It really is astounding to consider that the book of Mormon was written specifically for the members of the church in these last days. I think too many are confused and think that it was written for the people at that time, but none of them read that because it wasn’t compiled until after they were gone, and so it was kept specifically for us because we as members of the church are the only people who believe in it and so how amazing is that that heavenly father gave us a written instruction manual for how to get back to him if we’ll just follow it?


And in reality, he really simplified the instruction book.

Listen to the spirit and obey.

No other instructions are even needed.

Russ :

I love it, so true. I really want to pick your brain on your advice for increasing my ability to communicate via the spirit.


I really think it’s that simple. When we have a prompting, a feeling, a thought, no matter how small or insignificant, when we Hear Him and obey. The spiritual connection in both directions opens more and more.

Then in time, we will have a personal visit with Savior.

The simplest path to follow. But oh so difficult because we’re human and have so many distractions.

Please now take a few minutes and watch Sister Sheri Dew as she speaks at a devotional at BYUH.

Sheri Dew Prophets can see around corners

Christmas time is here. Following are some suggestions to help us prepare our Hearts.

He is the Gift

After reading the following I hope you will enjoy the Songs of the Christmas season.

Preparing Our Hearts for Christmas

As the Christmas season begins, each of us should open our hearts to receive once again a witness that Christ was born as the Savior of the world, that He lives, and that because of Him, we will live again. This opening of our hearts was encouraged by President Thomas S. Monson; President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor; and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor, during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional on December 4, 2011. President Monson: No Better Time Than Now “There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ,” President Monson said. He spoke of witnessing the annual commercialization of Christmas, of seeing Christmas become less about Christ and more about sales, parties, and presents. And yet, President Monson said, “Christmas is what we make of it. Despite all the distractions, we can see to it that Christ is at the center of our celebration. If we have not already done so, we can establish Christmas traditions for ourselves and for our families which will help us capture and keep the spirit of Christ.” Three Christmas Stories President Monson said that each year for Christmas, he reads the story of the birth of Christ as told in the Gospel of Luke. He also reads A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and The Mansion by Henry Van Dyke, and he remembers the change of heart undergone by Ebenezer Scrooge and the lessons about the true meaning of giving learned by John Weightman. Both characters learned that a reward in heaven is based on forgetting oneself and not seeking worldly gain or recognition. President Monson pleaded with each of us to not spend Christmas but to keep Christmas in our hearts and lives. “Because when we keep the spirit of Christmas,” he said, “we keep the spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit. It will block out all the distractions around us, which can diminish Christmas and swallow up its true meaning.” President Monson then summarized some of the many gifts we receive because Heavenly Father gave us the gift of His Son, sending Him to earth as our Redeemer. “Because He came to earth, we have a perfect example to follow. As we strive to become more like Him, we will have joy and happiness in our lives and peace each day of the year. It is His example, which if followed, stirs within us more kindness and love, more respect and concern for others. Because He came, there is meaning to our mortal existence. Because He came, we know how to reach out to those in trouble or in distress, wherever they may be. Because He came, death has lost its sting, the grave its victory. We will live again because He came. Because He came and paid for our sins, we have the opportunity to gain eternal life. Because He came, we are gathered tonight to worship Him in bonds of brotherhood and love. May His precious Spirit be with us, and may He ever be the center of our celebrations and indeed of our very lives.” President Eyring: Gifts We Can Offer to Others for Him President Eyring related miraculous stories from the scriptures regarding the signs of Christ’s birth. He also told of scriptural accounts of visitations by angels preparing the way for the Redeemer’s arrival. But, he said, the lesson within his message was not about having marvelous experiences. Scripture References

  • John 3:16–17

  • John 3:19

  • John 3:20

  • John 3:21

  • Helaman 14:2–9

  • Isaiah 7:14–15

  • Isaiah 40:3

  • Matthew 2:11

  • Matthew 2:13

  • Matthew 2:15

  • Matthew 2:23

“The lesson is not that we can have such marvelous experiences whenever we wish for them,” President Eyring said, “nor that they will come even when we feel a great need for them. The lesson is that God knows our every need, that He loves us, and that He watches over us.” Heavenly Father Gave Us a Gift: The Savior Heavenly Father gave us the gift of a Savior, President Eyring said, and by personal appearance of the Father and the Son and through angels, “He has restored the Church of Jesus Christ in the latter days. He has called prophets and apostles to guide us to safety in this life and eternal life in the world to come. Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected so that we may live again and that we may be purified and cleansed from sin.” Those, he said, are gifts given to us that we can offer to others for Him. “You can give a great and wonderful Christmas if you remember the gifts God has given you and, as best you can offer them to others as He would.” Watch and Share New Videos President Eyring also announced that nearly 50 video vignettes will be placed on the Internet site, free of charge for all to use and share. created by the Church to help members of the Church and others throughout the world to develop an increased understanding of and faith in the divinity of the Savior, His mission, and ministry. He said the videos were created with the hope that all who view them will feel the “light and joy of angelic visitations that marked Heavenly Father’s gift of His Beloved Son as our Redeemer.”

This is the Christ

President Uchtdorf: Christmas Is about the Christ Commenting on the pressure and anxiety often felt by those who focus on the temporal side of the Christmas season, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency said, “We have in our minds a picture of how everything should be—the perfect tree, the perfect lights, the perfect gifts, and the perfect family events. … [But] sooner or later, something unpleasant occurs … and the picture-perfect Christmas we had imagined, the magic we had intended to create, shatters around us.” Scripture References 2

.Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79

  • John 5:28–29

  • 1 Corinthians 15:22

  • Doctrine and Covenants 76:17

  • Isaiah 1:18

  • Doctrine and Covenants 14:7

  • 1 Corinthians 2:9

  • John 14:18

  • Doctrine and Covenants 88:63

However, if we focus our hearts and minds on the true spirit of Christmas, President Uchtdorf said, “we will recognize wonderful things happening around us.” See Christmas for What It Truly Is He continued, “It is usually something small—we read a verse of scripture, we hear a sacred carol and really listen to its words, or we witness a sincere expression of love. In one way or another, the Spirit touches our hearts, and we see that Christmas, in its essence, is much more sturdy and enduring than the many minor things of life [that] we too often use to adorn it. “We realize in these precious moments what we feel and know in our heart—that Christmas is about the Christ.”

Away in a Manger

Silent Night

O Holy Night

Carol of the Bells

What Child is This

O Come all ye Faithful

The Christmas Song

The First Noel

What Shall We Give? - Christmas Music Video

Mary Did you Know

The Christmas Story David Archuleta

Debbie and I want to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas. May your hearts and homes be full of love and joy. We testify that God does live, Jesus is the Christ. He will return with his 2nd coming as prophesied by so many prophets. Yes, we still have some tough times ahead, but also times filled with so many wonderful miracles in each of our lives.

We love you, your Heavenly Parents, and Jesus Christ love each of you. We so testify in Jesus' name, Amen

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