All Things Witness

Thoughts on the mission and power of Jesus Christ


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A Lesson in Patience

BaptismI have twin daughters. They are a delight, and I am constantly astonished at how different their personalities are despite their identical genetic starting point. I have learned many things from my children, and recently I had reason to stop to consider a wonderful life lesson taught to me by one of my twin daughters.

It relates to their recent baptism, but for those who read this and may not be LDS, there are three things that are important to know about baptism in our Church.

Firstly, children do not get baptised before the age of 8, which we believe is when children begin to become accountable for their actions. We believe that prior to this age, Christ’s atonement covers all mistakes no matter how sorry or otherwise a child may be.

Secondly, baptism in our Church is by immersion – the whole body under the water at the same time, symbolising the death of the old self, and cleansing resurrection to a new life as a disciple of Christ. If your hair floats on the top of the water it has to be done again – 100% simultaneous immersion is essential.

Thirdly, all males in good standing in the Church are able to hold the Priesthood, meaning that they are able to directly perform ordinances like baptism for their families. A real highlight in my life has been being able to baptise each of my children.

With the above points in mind, and as the time drew closer to my twin daughters’ 8th birthday, we began to prepare for their baptism. They were both very excited as the months and then weeks drew closer. We had some practice sessions at home, “bend your knees like this”, “now close your eyes and hold your nose”, “try and keep your feet on the ground so a toe doesn’t pop out of the water”, etc. They invited school friends to come and see their baptism, told their teachers, and generally just couldn’t wait.

But, as the day drew nearer we recognised a potential problem – neither of my girls were able to put their heads under water. We’ve often gone swimming as a family, and they attend swimming lessons at school. But they never put their heads under water – they don’t even like water on their faces. That’s fine for a family swimming trip; not quite so fine when they want to get baptised, and the baptism must be by immersion. Continue reading


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A Frozen Thank You

With two daughters, Disney princess films are a regular feature in our home.  In fact, as I write this we have one on (one of the Little Mermaid sequels).  To be fair, our boys tend to enjoy them too, but I Frozenheartannadoubt they would admit that to their friends.

The most recent Disney film, Frozen, has attracted quite a lot of attention by those who argue both it is a pro and anti-religion film.  I personally doubt very much that the writers or company had any religious intent whatsoever, but as it was on (again) the other day, it struck me that there are some beautiful themes in the film that work well as an allegory. Continue reading


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Hard is OK

Exam PrepOne of my children has just finished his first set of “proper” exams at school last week.  I should explain that these exams are UK “SATS”, taken at the end of the last year of primary school.  They will be of limited immediate value to him, which is not to say there is no value – his results will be passed on to the Secondary School he will be attending which will be of some benefit for him – but the main point of them seems to me to be to measure the school’s teaching quality rather than for the students’ benefit.

It was stressful for him preparing for them, and we had tears and drama at home with his homework as we got closer to exam time.

Two discussions with my son about his recent exams have stuck with me.  The first is when I was trying to both comfort him as well as explain why his exams are valuable for him.  Yes they might help the Secondary School he will be attending get an idea of his academic abilities to enable them to better support him as he starts the next stage of his education, but there is also value in his getting experience of exam conditions, of experiencing how they work and how to prepare for them.  All of these, I explained, would help him when he was preparing for much more important exams as he gets older.

My son, understanding that what I was saying made sense, replied with tears in his eyes, “I don’t want to grow up”.  The challenge for him was that this exam preparation was hard for him – really hard.  It was a burden he didn’t feel he could face, and so he wished he could just remain a child so that he could avoid such challenges. Continue reading


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A Mother’s Love (again)

MotherI posted this a few weeks ago when it was Mother’s Day in the UK.  I repost it today for those in the USA, where it is Mother’s Day today.

In the LDS Church we place a high value on families, and I am fortunate to have been born to two loving parents, including a mother who has taught me patience and compassion, and who I always knew throughout my growing up years would always be there for me. I know that sadly not all children can say the same. I don’t know why I was fortunate to have been born in such a loving family, but I am grateful nonetheless.

I am also very fortunate to be married to a woman who epitomises all that is wonderful about a good mother. She loves, nurtures and teaches our children (I try too, but she does it better). I can see in the way my children respond to my wife that there is nothing quite like a child’s affection for their mother. Continue reading


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Really? Wow!: A Discussion about Mental Illness and the Atonement

Stairs up to the lightI’ve found this a particularly difficult post to write, so I hope that a) I can do it some justice, and b) those with particular insights and experience will comment*. It is a subject we rarely discuss, but which I feel we need to gain greater insight into, so that we are better able to comfort those in need.

A few months go I posted a couple of articles on the subject of depression, one of the great plagues of our age, and how we can find relief through Christ. Those posts can be found here, and here. While depression is fortunately becoming increasingly discussed in the Church (not enough yet I think, but we’re making some positive progress), other aspects of mental illness or disability are generally discussed either rarely and on obscure internet forums, or (more likely) not at all.

But if Christ suffered for ALL of our pains, sicknesses, and afflictions, that means he suffered also for our mental illnesses and disabilities; it means that through His atoning sacrifice there is power for those suffering. Elder Joseph B Wirthlin said, “No grief is so great, no pain so profound, no burden so unbearable that it is beyond His healing touch.” (Special Witnesses of Christ, Ensign, April 2001).  That includes Continue reading


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The Witness Cycle

I was reading through Mosiah some time ago, and read again of Alma as he first believed the words of Abinadi, and then began to teach others the gospel. As I read I was Helping man across the streetstruck by the wording used by Alma as he taught the people. The passage in chapter 18 of Mosiah is well known as it relates what we often refer to as some of the covenants we make in baptism, but two things struck me which I hadn’t noticed before Continue reading


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Night’s Reminders

Moon and Stars

As we start this Easter week I post the poem below, in which I do my best to sum up some of my feelings about what happened during that week so long ago. The central act of eternity began on the Thursday night, and so the poem concentrates on that evening.

As I ponder the events of that evening, I imagine the night being very still, with stars shining – the universe itself almost holding its breath Continue reading


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When Our Preparations are not Enough

In my last post I talked about how Joseph’s brothers were given a second chance. They Sacks of Grainhad acted in the most appalling way when they sold their younger brother Joseph and then deceived their father. Having then lived with the consequences of their actions for more than 20 years, they were placed in an almost identical situation, as a test to determine whether they had changed. Continue reading


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Of Second Chances and Forgiveness

10724789955_7762dccb22_mThe story of Joseph, son of Jacob (Israel) is one of the better-known ones from the Old Testament. Eldest son of his father’s beloved Rachel, Joseph was consequently apparently doted on, which led to resentment from his older brothers, which in turn led to his being sold into slavery and ending up in Egypt.

Joseph must have been an incredibly talented man, for everywhere he went he ended up being placed in positions of authority. Continue reading


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A Mother’s Love

MotherToday is Mother’s Day in the UK. In the LDS Church we place a high value on families, and I am fortunate to have been born to two loving parents, including a mother who has taught me patience and compassion, and who I always knew throughout my growing up years would always be there for me. I know that sadly not all children can say the same.  I don’t know why I was fortunate to have been born in such a loving family, but I am grateful nonetheless. Continue reading