Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Easter Gift of Jesus Christ

It was thirteen years ago during Holy Week that my mother, Helen Lee Goates, passed away. Her funeral was held the day before Easter.

In the intervening years her influence on all of us has continued unabated. In fact, her influence may be more pronounced now that she is in the spirit world than it ever was when she was living in mortality. Life after death for us is not a matter of speculation, it is an absolute certainty. One day in the not too distant future she will be joined in the spirit world by my father. And in some future day beyond that they will come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, having been true and faithful to "the gospel" throughout their mortal probation.

Defining the term "the gospel" is a relatively easy matter if one cherishes the written Word. And the "fulness of the gospel" is also a term easily defined by the Lord's own declarations.

The Book of Mormon contains "the fulness of the gospel"

Our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ
"Gospel" is a word one hears tossed loosely about in our modern world, but its meaning is defined in numerous ways. One fact remains -- the word is linked with scriptures and churches.  The Hebrew definition is simple.  It is usually translated as "glad tidings of great joy." The Greek translation is "good news." So what is the "good news" all about?  It's the reality of the redeeming blood of our Savior Jesus Christ that was shed for us in a voluntary act of love for all mankind regardless of ethnicity, gender, age or church affiliation. We may argue about the details as Christians, and it matters not what anyone else believes. Whether people even know about Jesus Christ does not alter in one iota the reality of His, and ultimately a universal, resurrection for all people.

His atonement is the integral centerpiece of a "plan" given to us by Heavenly Father. The plan involves creation, birth, the fall, the atonement, redemption from the fall and our eventual return to Him. Principles and ordinances of the gospel are involved. We are invited again and again to enlist our full participation and involvement in the plan.

These principles and ordinances are called "saving principles and ordinances"

Many have asked me over the years to define "the fulness of the gospel." I always defer to the Prophet Joseph Smith in answering this question because of the knowledge he received in restoring those saving principles and ordinances. What I think is never very useful if it doesn't align with scripture.

I have heard some sagacious high priests opine on this topic and conclude The Book of Mormon does not contain all the doctrines of the Restoration like temple marriage, the three degress of glory and baptism for the dead. Therefore, they claim, the fulness of the gospel cannot be found therein.  They point to the Doctrine and Covenants as a more complete record teaching the fulness of the gospel.

I could not disagree more strenuously. If words mean anything, Moroni revealed to Joseph Smith "there was a book [The Book of Mormon] deposited, written upon gold plates. . . that [contained] the fulness of the everlasting Gospel. . . as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants" of this continent (Joseph Smith History 1:34). In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord says several times The Book of Mormon does contain the fulness of the gospel (D&C 20:9; D&C 27:5; D&C 35:12, 17; D&C 42:12).

The first reference to the fulness of the gospel in The Book of Mormon occurs when our resurrected Lord  commands the Nephites to record his words. The purpose, He explained, was so His words could be brought forth among the Gentiles in the latter days so "the fulness of these things shall be made known among them." (3 Nephi 16:4, 7).

We are warned in the record the latter-day Gentiles would sin against the gospel and reject the fulness of the gospel. The evidence of this fulfillment of prophecy needs no elaboration to even the most casual observer who is aware of the political debates in this country. The resurrected Savior mentions specifically what those sins would be and describes them as "all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations" and clarifies the rejection of the fulness of the gospel will cause Him to bring the fulness of the gospel from among them (3 Nephi 16:8-10).

I've often pondered what that would look like. Would it mean our missionaries would be withdrawn from certain places in the last days because the people reject them? Are there gentile nations who would so fully reject the Word, causing us to withdraw? In recent years the Church has done just that among many European missons that were combined and consolidated. Now as the younger age for missionaries has kicked in, look where the prophet is re-deploying the missionaries in countries where the growth of the Church is exploding.

References from Moroni, the Doctrine and Covenants and The Book of Mormon itself all show The Book of Mormon does contain the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. By letting the scriptures define our terms, "the fulness of the gospel" and "the gospel" are used interchangeably in The Book of Mormon.

"The gospel" defined

The term "gospel" is defined by the Savior in 3 Nephi 27:9-22 as His coming to the earth to do the Father's will. As He was lifted up on the cross by men, so will all people eventually be lifted up and judged by the standards the Savior laid down for them as He taught them in person.

There are four specific conditions set forth for those who would obtain salvation from the effects of the fall of Adam and Eve:  (1) They have washed their garments in His blood through faith in His atoning sacrifice; (2) they have repented of all their sins; (3) they have been baptized in His name, which implies by the proper authority and method He outlined for them; and (4) they have been sanctified by receiving the Holy Ghost. 

Those who meet the conditions He set forth and subsequently endure in their faith in His redemption to the end of their mortal lives will be "lifted up" at the last day. That means they will be resurrected in a degree of glory, among the "many mansions" He prepared. (John 14:2; D&C 98:18).

This definition of the gospel or the fulness of the gospel is totally consistent with three of the Lord's definitions of the gospel we find in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 33:11-12; D&C 39:5-6; and D&C 76:40-43).

While the high priests who continue to debate the point are somewhat accurate in that there are some principles of the gospel, ordinances and doctrines which are not included in The Book of Mormon, all that is necessary -- the fulness of the gospel -- to lead a person to salvation in the celestial kingdom is included.  In the Doctrine and Covenants we have additional revelations coming later through the Prophet Joseph Smith about entrance into the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. These doctrines of exaltation include eternal marriage, salvation for our dead ancestors, and three heavens or degrees in the celestial glory (D&C 131:1-4).

Though they cannot be found in The Book of Mormon, some of these doctrines are implied. (See 4 Nephi 1:11; also 3 Nephi 25:5-6; Ether 12:32).

I have written before about the difference between power and authority in the priesthood, so a lengthy explanation is not needed here. But when the blessings of the Melchizedek Priesthood and the Holy Ghost are bestowed upon men (and women as outlined in previous posts), they may obtain through their faithfulness the power to receive all things the Father gives to His children. The doctrines of exaltation are bestowed through these powers. The Book of Mormon teaches the necessity of man's receiving both the priesthood and the Holy Ghost, noting all mankind may be exalted through these powers. (Alma 13:10-12).

Embrace the Fourth Article of Faith

In the great debates among the high priests (and they are many), the problem is too much repetition of only casual and occasional readings of the scriptures tending to mislead. If we did nothing more than embrace the Fourth Article of Faith we would find a perfect recitation of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel as taught in The Book of Mormon. All the steps of the fulness of the gospel are mentioned there and are ongoing, demanding a lifetime of dedication and effort to complete.

Ask yourself, when are we done with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, burying our old man of sin and walking in a newness of life in obedience to the promptings of the Holy Ghost?  

The path leading to eternal life

The initial embrace of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel only places us on the path leading to eternal life. Perpetual feasting at the banquet table of the doctrines contained in The Book of Mormon empowers us to embrace and live the fulness of the gospel.  We continue our journey of unknown length and complexity in the path of mortality until we are granted eternal life.

The Savior's own definition of the gospel as He gave it to the Nephites amplifies the path to eternal life. He testified He came into the world to do the will of the Father, that He "be lifted up upon the cross." (3 Nephi 27:13-14). His being lifted up on the cross at Golgotha was the culminating event of His ministry following His agony in Gethsemane. John corroborates this conclusion by recording that Jesus, after being lifted up, knew all things were now accomplished. (John 19:28).

We are faced with this unavoidable paradox as fallen mortals: The Savior told the Nephites "no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; . . . nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith." We can only hope to enter his kingdom if we are clean, and we can only be clean through our faith in His perfection. His garments were stained by His own blood as He voluntarily took upon Himself the stain of our sins, leaving our garments white and pure. This washing was done through "the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end." (3 Nephi 27:19).

Even before the atonement had been made, knowing it would be made (see Mosiah 16:6), all mankind were commanded to repent. (3 Nephi 27:19-20). This principle is expanded in The Book of Mormon. Amulek taught Zeezrom, "the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins." (Helaman 5:10). Repentance from all sins is clearly an ongoing process. That's why a one-time confession of the need for Christ in one's life is simply insufficient.

I have observed over a lifetime this unavoidable and sometimes uncomfortable truth -- the more I learn about the gospel the more my knowledge expands of the things for which I need to repent. That ongoing process is what brings us closer to sanctification in the blood of the Lamb. Nephi expressed it beautifully, and from the time I first read his words as a teenager until now there is always instant recognition of myself. He spoke of "the sins which do so easily beset me." The sins which agonize his soul slackened his strength because of his afflictions and he is angry because of his enemies. (2 Nephi 4:15-29). That's a highly developed sensitivity to the things of the Spirit that would never afflict one who is ambivalent or careless in his privileges with the Spirit.

That's why it's a process and we partake of the emblems of his death in the sacrament once a week in order to retain a remission of our sins.  (Mosiah 4:26).

Come unto Christ and be baptized in His name

When we obey the initial commandment to repent, we learn the commandment also includes coming unto Christ and being "baptized in [his] name." (3 Nephi 27:20). The Savior gave the Nephites explicit instructions regarding baptism. He had also given them authority to baptize, taught them immersion was the proper method of baptism, and gave them the exact wording to be used in the baptismal prayer. (3 Nephi 11:21-27).

In his definition of the gospel, the Savior specifies the purpose of baptism:  It is to receive the Holy Ghost. The gospel plan is that the person on whom the Holy Ghost is conferred "may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost" and thus stand spotless before Christ at the last day. (3 Nephi 27:20).

Being "born again"

We must be born again through a baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. (3 Nephi 9:20). Baptism places us on the path to eternal life.  After that, we must then press forward as led by the Spirit. (2 Nephi 31:17-20; Moroni 8:25-26). Through obedience to the principles and the saving ordinances of the gospel administered by the priesthood we are sanctified. To become sanctified is to become "pure and spotless before God."

This means being pure in thoughts and actions, not being able to "look upon sin save it were with abhorrence." (Alma 13:11-12). However, there is a difference between looking on sin with abhorrence and looking on the sinner.

All our Father's children, regardless of their current situation in mortality have access to the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. In the words of Joseph Smith, "God does not look on sin with allowance, but when men have sinned, there must be allowance made for them." (TPJS, 240-41). Part of that "allowance" is offering them a spiritual guide, the Holy Ghost. Routinely, investigators are taught by the missionaries how to recognize their first experiences with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. As the Testator, the Holy Ghost bears witness that the doctrines the missionaries teach are true.

The fulness of the gospel, as the Lord Jesus Christ defined it to the Nephites, means a lifelong process of seeking eternal life. It involves choices and accountability, but it also allows for abundant mercy and love.  There is obviously far too much "breakage" along the way, and ample provision has been made by our Savior to reclaim ALL of Heavenly Father's children who will claim their blessings through repentance.

After defining what the gospel is, the Savior taught the Nephites to continue doing the works in His church which they had seen Him do. (3 Nephi 27:21). He commanded them to write the things He had taught, which would judge the world. (3 Nephi 27:23-26). His teachings are the path for living in happiness. His teachings include enduring to the end of our mortal lives. (2 Nephi 9:24; 2 Nephi 31:15-16, 20; Alma 32:13, 15; 3 Nephi 15:9).

Learn the principle of the resurrection

President Wilford W. Woodruff
President Wilford W. Woodruff (1807-1898), said this: "Without the gospel of Christ the separation by death is one of the most gloomy subjects it is possible to contemplate; but just as soon as we obtain the gospel and learn the principle of the resurrection the gloom, sorrow and suffering occasioned by death are, in a great measure, taken away. . . The resurrection of the dead presents itself before the enlightened mind of man, and he has a foundation for his spirit to rest upon. That is the position of the Latter-day Saints today. We do know for ourselves, we are not in the dark with regard to this matter; God has revealed it to us and we do understand the principle of the resurrection of the dead, and that the gospel brings life and immortality to light." (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff [2004], 82-83).

"Enduring to the end"

It has been said enduring to the end is a fifth step in the gospel plan, but it is really part of the fourth step of becoming pure and spotless before God.

These examples of following the Savior and His Apostles in their teachings were recorded in the Bible, but  the Bible has lost many plain and precious parts (see 1 Nephi 13:23-29; also TPJS, 327, and the Eighth Article of Faith). The Lord has provided The Book of Mormon, the most correct book, to outline more clearly the plan given by our eternal Heavenly Father to return to His presence.

Although the world rejects The Book of Mormon as scripture, a prayerful examination of its contents will prove to the sincere seeker of truth it absolutely qualifies as holy scripture. There can be no other explanation for its origin, though many have been offered, that can be successfully substituted.

On this Easter weekend of 2013, I offer my own testimony that Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, is our Savior and Redeemer. He was resurrected. The borrowed tomb where He was first laid when dead on that fateful Friday afternoon now and forever remains empty. On Sunday morning it could not contain Him as He burst the bonds of death and brought to pass the glorious resurrection. As the "first fruits" of the resurrection, He prepared the way for each of us to someday be resurrected and eventually receive whatever degree of glory we choose.

I pray we may choose well, that we may know it, live it, and love it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Priesthood Blessings - Asking and Giving

Many years ago our son Rich was serving as a missionary in Canada. The question arose about when it was appropriate to give a priesthood blessing. Should we extend blessings only when the recipient asked for it as a demonstration of their faith? What about those who feel it would be inappropriate to impose upon other priesthood bearers because their request might be viewed as a sign of weakness that they weren't able to muster enough faith to be healed on their own?

For those who are unfamiliar with this practice in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is the privilege of those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood to lay their hands on the sick after anointing them with consecrated oil and to pronounce a blessing as directed by the Holy Spirit. In the act of blessing there are often words of comfort expressed, as well as specific promises of healing when prompted to offer them.

These and other questions are addressed in my answer to his letter and then my subsequent commentary afterward.

January 18, 2001
Elder Richard Goates
4-957 7th St. E.
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan S6V 6T3

Dear Rich:

That rarest of rare occurrences:  A personal letter to you!  [During those years we often had two missionaries out at the same time and they sometimes got the same letter].  Don’t panic, just some extra time to address a couple of thoughts that I’ve had concerning your recent journal pages.
First, it’s a joy to hear of your recent baptisms.  I always knew the harvest would come.  That’s just the way things tend to work out – after the sowing, nurturing and tending to the budding plants, then the harvest!  You have done everything and more that I could have hoped would happen when you planted your feet on the ground in Saskatchewan and went to work.  What a great legacy you have left to other missionaries who will come behind you!  Your labors and your efforts have been rewarded, when others around you have tended to falter!  There is no greater joy, trust me, than to come to the declining days of your mission and realize, looking back, that there isn’t a thing you would have changed (well, maybe only a few).  You are awesome, and the Lord has crowned your labors with success because of your faithfulness.

Having said that, there are still more days ahead for you.  The end is not yet!  Keep pushing, keep leading, keep encouraging and keep blessing. 

There was a reference in your journal pages to an elder who you didn’t know for sure that you should offer a blessing to, since you were waiting for him to ask.  This is a classic Mormon myth – that those seeking a blessing must first ask for it as a pre-requisite demonstration of their faith. 

Well, poppycock!  You offer to lift, to bless, to sanctify and to edify whenever you can.  Never hesitate to offer a blessing from the Lord’s hands if you are impressed to do it.  Sometimes people feel it in their hearts, but have to be invited to receive the blessing.  Sometimes it’s just shyness, or uncertainty, or whatever – a host of reasons – but you be swift to offer if you think it will help. 

One time in the bishop’s office, after meeting a new couple for the first time, the Spirit whispered and prompted me to ask, “So, Sister ____________ how’s your faith?”  I don’t know to this day where that comment came from – I don’t think I had ever asked that question before, especially to a stranger I had only met moments before for the very first time.  Tears welled up in her eyes, and she began to cry.  She said, “Well, I don’t think it’s very good.”  Then she proceeded with that gentle invitation to pour out a story about her medical condition that seemingly had no answer.  She had struggled with it for years, and there seemed to be no explanation why she was suffering so much. 

Long story short, we set a date where we could meet in her home later in the week to give her a blessing.  Her husband and I blessed her at the appointed hour after fasting and prayer for a day before we actually laid hands on her head.  She was healed.  As I blessed her I had words given to me.  She told me later that it was as though the Savior himself were pronouncing the blessing.  And that’s what the priesthood is all about – doing for others what the Savior himself would do if he were here in our shoes.  She said there was a tangible warm feeling that flowed through her that night from the top of her head down to the tips of her toes.  She knew she was healed that night, though the actual cessation of her symptoms did not occur until some weeks later.

And that’s just one example.  When Grandpa Brent was approaching his knee replacement surgery date a few weeks back, my sister Jane had filled me with all kinds of doubts and fears about it.  Early one morning – the clock said 5:22 a.m. – I was awakened with specific words in my mind about him.  I was told in certain detail about the surgery, its outcome, and his miraculous recovery from it despite the improbability of it given all Jane’s concerns.  The next time I saw Grandpa, I told him, “When the surgery gets closer, I have a blessing for you.”  Then I told him how it had come.  When we laid our hands on his head that night before the operation, I merely spoke the words as they had been given to me early that morning.  It was fulfilled even beyond my expectations, Dad’s, and even the doctor said, “This might just be the greatest surgical result I have ever seen with this operation.” 

I can’t explain it in rational terms.  Suppose he had died on the operating table?  It doesn’t make sense, except that those who are not appointed unto death are healed (see D&C 42:48).  That’s the Lord’s promise to the saints. 

Elders who, in administering to the sick, manifest such faith that it ignites faith in the individual who is ill “or otherwise afflicted,” have greater success than others who administer without sufficient faith.  Too often, we just go through the motions in administering blessings.  But the actual healing power of God enters the sick only when faith in Christ is present.  The recipient must exercise faith and also the giver.  We say of those who have great success in administration of the sick that they have the "gift of healing."  All the gifts of the Spirit, as enumerated in the scriptures (see D&C 46; Moroni 10; 1 Corinthians 12), rest on faith in Christ, and faith always precedes the miracle, not the other way around.  God rarely heals people so that others may believe – the faith always comes first.

After making clear in Section 42 of the Doctrine and Covenants that many who are administered to will not have faith enough to be healed, and urging the saints to use other healing methods on them as well as to administer to them, the Savior refers to a second group, those who have sufficient faith to be healed.  These will be healed "unless appointed unto death."

We must not misinterpret this passage, but it must be read in the light of the accompanying verses.  All who die are not appointed unto death.  Sometimes their death is due to lack of faith or our ignorance of how healing happens.  Sometimes their lives are cut short because of their own carelessness or the misused agency of others.  What is the significance of the passage "appointed unto death," then?  If all men were appointed unto death at a fixed time, our free agency would be lost. 

Such a doctrine is fatalism.  If fatalism were true, nothing we could do would either shorten or prolong our lives.  Births and deaths would become simply events that were predetermined before we were born.  Martin Luther and Calvin taught such doctrines and declared that the end of men was predestined from the beginning.  Joseph Smith denounced that idea, and always sought to increase the health of his people and to lengthen human life.

Having said that, we know from our own experiences in our family that sometimes life is shortened (as in the case of Adrienne, whose death was inexplicable by our finite reasoning), and in those cases it is appropriate to say that she was “appointed unto death,” simply because there is no other explanation available.  The Lord is so generous, and he is so anxious to bless, to comfort and to heal. 

Never hesitate, Rich, when you feel the impression to bless others – God would do it if he were in your shoes.  Once I even asked a husband who was a non-member to lay his hands on top of mine as I administered to his wife over some infertility concerns that they had.  He had the faith to do it.  But he didn’t even know the question.  That was all that was necessary.  The last time I talked to her she had four children!  He already knows that for the most part our faith as his children is weak.  If they respond, “Yes,” to your invitation for a blessing, that’s all the faith that’s needed – for heaven’s sake, it doesn’t matter who initiates the request.  It’s just a bogus Mormon myth without merit.

So, that’s it, that’s all I had on my heart for you today.  Based on your journal entries it sounds like you might be headed to Winnipeg?  Whatever path your remaining days may take, rest assured of my love for you.  I thrill with every letter, every new adventure.

I love you,

* * *
As to the second question about not wanting to "bother" others with our need to request a priesthood blessing, this often occurs in righteous, humble men who may be leaders in the Church, but are filled with an insidious and subtle form of pride. They won't ask for help from others until they reach the utmost boundaries of their extremity because they think asking for the Lord's help would be showing a sign of weakness to those whom they lead. I've seen this phenomenon not once but many times in fine men and women whose lives demonstrate nothing but the highest degree of integrity and altruistic desires to bless and serve others.

It's sad to see this in otherwise intelligent and strong-willed men. It's like trying to cure oneself of cancer with homeopathic remedies (nothing wrong with that), but before they seek out skilled physicians for a scientific diagnosis, people who may possess the healing cures they so desperately need. So it is with accessing the atonement in our lives. We often think we must somehow "prove" ourselves worthy before we approach the throne of grace. How backward is that? I've never yet seen a man, woman or child blessed who figuratively laid their own hands on themselves. We serve one another and there is no other way.

The healing powers of the atonement of Jesus Christ extend into every conceivable facet of our lives. If we are sinners (and we all are), we may seek forgiveness because of the atonement's healing balm. If we have been sinned against (and we all have), we may extend forgiveness to others because we ourselves have felt the healing we have received from the atonement's power. If we are sick, no matter who we are and regardless of which position we hold or don't hold in the outward Church, we can submit our iron-clad will, humble ourselves sufficiently and seek to be healed no matter what label our ailment may have.

Perhaps we hold back not from asking only for reasons that we don't want to disturb others by having to ask them to administer to us, but also because secretly we may not believe we have sufficient faith to be healed. Whatever the reasons may be, what is needed is enough humility and meekness to submit our will to His. When we need help it is always and forever instantly available. And sometimes the need for repeated blessings at frequent intervals for the same ailment is just the opposite of what may appear to be weakness of faith. It may, instead, be an expression of deep and abiding faith in whatever outcome the Lord has in store for us.

We had a woman in our ward who bore a simple testimony when her husband returned to the Church after years of inactivity. She simply said, "I put his name on the temple prayer rolls of five temples every week." Some miracles take time.

All of the thoughts - I would say ANY thought - that keep us from accessing healing powers are satanic thoughts by their very nature, and are designed to block us from the power of the atonement through our Lord Jesus Christ's suffering for us. He has already felt our pain no matter what its source or the form it takes. Our pain could be psychological, mental, physical or spiritual. He knows our doubts and fears because He was besieged with those same doubts and fears in much larger doses at the hands of Satan. He bowed under the weight of all of it in Gethsemane, which included the weight of all our sins, all our pain, all our doubts and fears, and all our uncertainty and lack of faith. He is able to save us from all of it. That is the reason the atonement is so frequently referred to as "infinite and eternal" in the scriptures. No one in the human family of God, dead, living or unborn, is excluded from its far-reaching benefits.

All that is required from each of us is the humility and meekness to access its power through our humility and faith. Asking for THAT kind of help was NEVER a sign of weakness. What is subsequently required after receiving the blessings is listening carefully to the voice of the Lord as He answers in His timing of what is best for our eternal welfare.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Maintaining Our Spiritual Clocks*

Helen and Brent Goates

My father, L. Brent Goates, continues his tradition of writing to his former missionaries every six months at General Conference time. Last night I dropped by his home to see if he needed my help. "No," he replied, "it's all done! I figure as long as I'm able I should be as independent as I can be." Those words are coming from the lips of a man who is now in his 92nd year. It's no small feat for him to produce this semi-annual missive, messages he styles "Heart Lines." He first lines it up on the page in his old IBM Selectric (yes, at least one still exists). He types it several times until it approaches perfection. Then he drives himself to Kinkos to get 100 copies, individually signs each one, then folds them and stuffs each envelope after addressing them, seals them and licks a stamp for each. With very few editing corrections, I share it with his permission:

Almost every person and family has a precious story from their lifetime which is often associated with the possession of some treasured artifact or heirloom. These are tucked away in our memories or attics until some event causes their emergence. To validate this conclusion I refer you to current series on the BYU educational television channel entitled “My Story Trek.” Here the producer goes into a town, neighborhood and finally a house, chosen completely at random, and offers to televise spontaneously their precious story. After some persuasion most people agree to it because they do have a story they want to preserve in memory.

Of our five boys our late son, Drew (1952-2011), was the most sentimental toward family objects and traditions. He once presented to me a list of 14 items, requesting the documented history of each treasured physical possession or family story so he could pass on such a record to his posterity.

Number one at the top of his list was “Grandma’s Mantle Clock.” He had been fascinated by it as a child and talked about it so much my mother donated it to him as a keepsake. It now lies in a protective box where he left it, marked “Grandma’s Mantle Clock – Very Fragile.”

This is no ordinary clock. It’s a windup clock. That is, it is necessary every seven or eight days to wind up the mechanism with a key. If this is not done at such regular intervals, the clock eventually begins to lose time, its chimes become sluggish and off-tone. Finally, it stops until it is rewound again.

Great care is necessary in the rewinding process. If wound too tightly, the mechanism seizes up, or if not tight enough the process must be repeated too frequently. It requires a delicate, sensitive feeling to determine just how much tension is needed without applying too much.

When I think about the times I rewound this clock as a boy growing up in her home, and consider my now-declining physical condition, I think how nice it would be if I could somehow restore my physical powers to their youthful vigor in a manner just as simple as that.

In some ways, and to some degree, I can effect a partial rejuvenation through exercise, rest and proper nourishment. I realize, however, that my physical clock is gradually winding down. My mechanism, “very fragile,” is becoming increasingly sluggish. The chimes are now less vibrant and sometimes a little out-of-pitch (maybe even out-of-sorts too?). Someday, maybe soon, my clock will stop altogether, despite all my efforts to keep it going.

It is so also with the physical clock in each one of us. It is part of God’s plan. Our time in mortality is but one phase of an eternal existence. Gratefully, as our physical clock winds down we have the assurance through Christ’s atonement of a new beginning and even great possibilities as other glorious phases open up.

As I think about these sobering realities, there comes to mind another figurative clock that operates within me. It is my “spiritual clock.” It has some similarities to the physical one. It, too, needs regular winding to stay on time and to keep its true tone. Unlike the physical clock, however, the spiritual one is not necessarily destined for dissolution.

In fact, with proper attention and regular care it grows more vigorous, more perfect in its operation, more clear and resonant in its tones. But this is not an automatic process. Just as with the fragile clock on the mantle, unless there is a regular, careful winding up of the mechanism a spiritual sluggishness develops, the spiritual tone becomes off-key, and unless something is done to correct the winding-down process, the clock can stop.

In today’s spiritually decadent environment spiritual clock that do not receive regular attention can wind down very rapidly. Men are mortal and beset by many human frailties. It is so easy to be caught up with the complexities of life’s pursuits and snagged by ever-present Satanic temptations which lure us into sinful ways.

Thus, all of us must seek the ennobling compulsion to “wind-up” our spiritual clocks. Just as we found exercise, proper nourishment and rest are essential to our physical well-being, so are such religious and spiritual activities as prayer, scripture study and Sabbath worship, partaking of the sacrament and unselfish service to others, all necessary for our spiritual vigor. Without these continuing influences in our lives, our spiritual clocks wind down and we distance ourselves from God.

Consider more deeply these spiritual lifesavers –

PRAYER: Enjoy again “Amulek’s Anthem,” which says in part: “Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening. . . But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness. Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.” (Alma 34:20-27).

SCRIPTURES: “Search the scriptures for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39).

SABBATH WORSHIP and PARTAKING OF THE SACRAMENT: “But remember that on this day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren and before the Lord.” (D&C 59:12-13).

UNSELFISH SERVICE TO OTHERS: The Savior (King) recalls our service, though we may have forgotten, to the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger and prisoner and says: “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. . . Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:31-40).

Beloved missionaries: The gospel is true, so let us be true to the gospel by keeping our spiritual clocks in the best of condition. We will be eternally happy if we do so.

Always, your friend,

President L. Brent Goates

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why the Two-Party System is Pure Mythology

My Twitter timeline is growing more and more libertarian all the time. And, truth be told, so am I. There was a time when I accepted the reality of the two-party tradition in America. Today it is little more than slight distinctions about which party's candidates can convince us they can manage the intricacies of big government better.

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Sadly, while I still like Paul Ryan a lot, the release of his latest version of the budget features only a slightly lower baseline over the next ten years than the trajectory of the Senate's version, released last week by the Senate's budget chairperson, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). Give her credit - at least she came up with the first Senate budget in over 1400 days. That said, we have yet to pass a federal budget during the administration of Barack Obama, much less seriously consider balancing one. Finally, last week Barack Obama admitted he has no intention of balancing the budget nor reducing the deficit during his remaining term. At least now we know where he stands, since he no longer is accountable to voters. His budget "proposal" merely calls for more taxes and more spending.

According to Ryan’s version of what he would advocate (these numbers are lifted straight from his proposal) we would reduce federal spending as a percentage of GDP from 22.2 percent this year to 19.1 percent in 2023. That is at least a start in the right direction, but hardly draconian in its import. However, if you believe what the Democrat/progressive/liberal elements tell us, such a brutal meat cleaver reduction in the federal spending projections over the next ten years would inflict almost incomprehensible pain on Americans.

Here's what caught my attention from Ryan's CPAC speech last week: “We don’t see the debt as an excuse to cut with abandon, to shirk our obligations. We see it as an opportunity to reform government, to make it cleaner and more effective. That’s what conservatives stand for.”

But here's the rub. Isn't that exactly what Democrats believe too? Aren't they always proclaiming their efforts are designed to give us more effective and efficient government too?

I studied Ryan’s proposal to see if I could find anything that would forever end the federal government’s involvement in education. We've been talking about that since the days of Reagan who wanted to close the doors on the Department of Education. No sign of that in Ryan's budget. All the federal programs that sponsor job training are still there in the Ryan budget. There is nothing to eliminate the Departments of Energy, Transportation, and all the rest. There are so many bloated federal agencies that could be eliminated presidential candidate Rick Perry stumbled during a debate on his recitation of the list of agencies he would cut and it cost him the nomination. But nowhere in the latest Ryan budget do you find provisions for cutting them out.

There is a plus, however. Ryan's budget calls for ending Obamacare, but that isn't going to happen now as that train left the station and is picking up speed on the implementation rails as it rumbles into an insurance plan near you soon. But even if that were a successful legislative coup (and it won't be) the Ryan budget fails to eliminate the federal government’s involvement in health care. At least Ryan wants to cap higher education subsidies, but that doesn't terminate the federal government’s involvement in education. Well, you get the idea. The core problem is simple: More efficient government isn’t the same as limited government. That's the important Constitutional mandate we have bargained away over the years as both political parties have given us more and more government. Whether the federal government is efficient or effective is a debate I don't even care about. I'm becoming more libertarian because it's the only option left to us.

I'm just old enough to remember when we thought we could believe a two-party political system consisting of Republicans and Democrats representing vastly different values and objectives existed. However, true patriots who value liberty and freedom from tyranny, those who are accurately informed, well researched and historically astute know otherwise. Now I see things much differently. The thin veneer of political differentiation has finally peeled away. By the time George W. Bush and Henry Paulson at the end of the Bush era decided to bail out Wall Street and bankers, the illusion was forever evaporated. Government can only fund solutions with money it collects from taxpayers, and so far there seems to be insufficient angst among voters to stop it from escalating.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
Something extraordinary happened a couple of weeks ago on the Senate floor. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) launched a nearly 13-hour filibuster over an issue that barely aroused any interest among Americans, yet it clearly illuminated this rising tide of awareness of the thinly-veiled differences between the establishment powers in both political parties. What stunned me was the reaction by certain members of the Republican party we must not minimize. I happen to like the old Jimmy Stewart movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," only because it's about the little guy who dares to take on the establishment against all odds. Rand Paul's filibuster was a throw-back to earlier times. Here's at least one man (and there are growing numbers) who still recognizes the Constitution of the United States and Bill of Rights as the supreme law of the land. I include Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) in that group. John McCain called them "wacko birds." Then he thought better of the comment and apologized. That defiant act of filibuster by one man had much deeper meaning on many more levels than the topic at hand. When "wackos" are people who believe in limited government and liberty, then I choose to stand with the wackos.

Senator Paul asked for a simple response about the potential use of drones on American citizens on American soil from the Attorney General who represents the Executive branch of our government. Attorney General Eric Holder did not respond, so Senator Paul took to the Senate floor and spoke for 13 hours. As painful as it was for the Executive and Judicial branches and their media surrogates to even acknowledge Senator Paul’s persistence, his actions eventually generated a response. A short letter signed by Attorney General Holder was begrudgingly released. The answer was “no.” As remote as the possibility may seem to some, at least this administration is now on the record if that means anything.

Every freedom-loving American should be heralding Senator Rand Paul for what he did. It was evidence that every American who still cares about the rule of law and our God-given rights as enumerated in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights has at least one voice who speaks for them on the Senate floor. One would think that kind of issue would resonate throughout America without regard to political party. But he received nothing but ridicule for what some claimed was a cheap political grandstanding maneuver. I saw it as much more.

I consider myself a Conservative. I used to think I was a "moderate" Conservative. I find I must distinguish what that means to me and what it means to Paul Ryan, however. My loyalty is to our Constitution and Bill of Rights. I'm increasingly more interested in like-minded individuals who share that desire above party label. To stand for only a better-managed big government is now bordering on tyrannical and treasonous in my mind.

On the morning of the 9/11 attacks, I watched in horror as the Twin Towers collapsed and the realization we were attacked by foreign enemies slowly sank in that morning. Looking back on the aftermath of that day, I think I supported wholeheartedly, as many Americans did, the passage of legislation that formed even more agencies of the federal government. The Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security are only two examples. Now I believe I was wrong in my initial embrace of those moves. In the subsequent bursting of the bubble of Wall Street excesses with securitized mortgages and other dicey investment vehicles, there came clarity. I have discerned we were then, and still are to an increasing rate, being lied to by elected officials on both sides of the political spectrum. The "BIG LIE" is that we are going to be okay with the status quo they so desperately seem determined to perpetuate.

I've stopped listening to the so-called "Conservative" talk radio pundits and the TV talking heads. Like an old soap opera where you can tune out for months at a time, then tune in for a few minutes, the story lines never change and the themes are repetitive. The search for truth is paramount in these last days. And the truth cannot be found in the political realm.

Jesus Christ laments over Jerusalem
You are either loyal to God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, or you are not. It really won't matter much which political logos you're wearing when the elements melt down in the fervent heat yet to come. What will matter instead is your allegiance to God and our Constitution and Bill of Rights in America. As Christ was rejected of His own in His day, so He is being rejected once again in our day. I surmise He laments over Washington D.C. today as He once did over Jerusalem. The imperial government, the pervasive institution to which we are all being asked to pledge allegiance and to turn for sustenance, has forsaken her birthright. These are values our great nation once represented. There is no political party left, however, to claim the crown of champion for those values. Both parties have been corrupted. As long as I live I will resist any and all attempts by others to impose a godless theocracy upon us. If America fails, there will be no other contender left on earth in the running among the super powers to champion the cause of freedom.

Merely proposing that the federal government borrow and spend less than what is currently projected is certainly better than the alternative of burying our heads in the sand and pretending we are not in a spending and debt crisis. But those who accept Paul Ryan's version of the proposed federal budget cannot be serious if their goal is limited government. We must come to a point where we must find the collective will as free citizens to impose limits all the areas where government has intruded on our rights.

Some people worry what will happen if draconian measures are taken to cut federal spending. Think of the "safety net" suddenly being snatched out from underneath everyone. Think of all the unemployment if federal employment for millions of Americans suddenly terminates. In the garden of Eden, were Adam and Eve firmly clutching their Social Security checks and food stamps? When did we lose sight of working by the sweat of our own brows? There were no promises then, and there are none now. Ryan is defending a mythological fantasy when he says he can ensure the promises their government has made to Americans in the years ahead. What he's really saying is I can do it better than Democrats, when both have moved this country beyond the ability to deliver on those promises without severe cutbacks in the status quo. That's a political agenda politicians don't dare enunciate for fear of losing the next election.

I've heard the list of horribles of what might happen if we take control of our own debt and spending now, but what if we are already at the tipping point where the collapse is imminent anyway? Isn't the path we are on amply demonstrated by now to be unsustainable? Seems to me we must prune back the spending and debt bushes voluntarily now, or the pruning will be imposed at a time not of our own choosing and by circumstances we cannot possibly foresee or control.

I'm happy for the thought and preparation that has gone into Ryan’s latest budget proposal. But it only represents a step toward a slightly cheaper big government in a time when what is needed is a return to limited government we can actually afford.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Path of Safety in a Chaotic World

This morning I was approached in private by a member of my ward about a doctrinal question. He prefaced his question by stating I had an "encyclopedic" knowledge of Church policies and procedures, doctrine and history. I can assure you who read these pages such is not the case, but then you would already know that.

Last week someone wrote me asking to validate a "story" he had found on the Internet about President Joseph Fielding Smith, who became president of the Church at age 93. While the story had elements of what "could be" truth - and isn't that always the definition of "half truths?" - it was one of those stories that was not attributed to a recognized and authentic source. I could do little more than label it for what it was in fact - a "faith-promoting rumor."

President Joseph Fielding Smith
It sent my mind back to the days surrounding the death of President David O. McKay, and the subsequent sustaining of President Joseph Fielding Smith. At age 93, President Smith was only three years younger than President McKay when he died. There was widespread speculation among members of the Church that perhaps in the wisdom of men President Smith would be side-stepped in the succession process and a younger man would be named as president.

Not only were these rumors afloat, and had been for some time about the so-called "crisis in leadership" in the Church, but the world at large was in turmoil. There were routine threats of bombs and murder plots bandied about, and some of these touched the Church as well. It was during this time that speculation about the blacks receiving the priesthood had reached an apex. Even BYU's participation in sporting events drew threats against the Church.

Harold B. Lee's principal biographer was my father, L. Brent Goates. He records: "The far-reaching and potentially disastrous climax came as feared in the Sunday afternoon conference session, when another bomb threat occurred as Elder A. Theodore Tuttle was at the pulpit preaching on the theme 'If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.' A telephoned message was delivered to President Lee on the stand of the Tabernacle stating that a bomb would go off during that session. According to Salt Lake City Public Safety Commissioner James Barker, President Lee emphatically said to the policeman delivering the note in the Tabernacle: 'There is no bomb in here; relax.' The session continued uninterrupted.

"The responsibility for that instantaneous decision and the assurance of that conviction are mind-boggling. It is one of the most significant illustrations of the seer-like qualities of President Lee. It was his gift to be guided by an intuitive inspiration, which quality his associates of the General Authorities understood and deeply admired in him.

"Following this tense but spiritually rewarding Sunday afternoon session, the First Presidency and the Twelve met in the temple for prayer and began a twenty-four-hour fasting for divine protection. On this occasion they presented the names of new General Authorities to be announced the following day at the concluding session of conference. After approval by the Twelve, Elder Boyd K. Packer, the newly called apostle, and Elders Joseph Anderson, David B. Haight and William H. Bennett, nominees to be added to the Assistants to the Twelve, were called in, interviewed and given time to spiritually prepare themselves and their families for this historic happening scheduled the next day.

"On Monday, April 6, 1970, the solemn assembly became the highlight of general conference. President Tanner conducted the session in the morning and President Lee was assigned to present the same formal voting procedures which have been followed without deviation during the last century, whenever there was a reorganization of the First Presidency. Despite continued threats of demonstrations in this session there was a tremendous evidence of unity and power of faith, as everyone in the Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, and in the Salt Palace, and all the unseen audience tuned in by radio and television, were invited to stand and, when requested, witness with uplifted hands their sustaining vote of confidence and loyalty. In the three buildings mentioned not a single hand was raised in opposition.

"President Lee's address concluded this solemn assembly after President Smith and Elder Spencer W. Kimball, newly sustained as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve, had spoken. President Lee felt a great spiritual uplift in carrying out his key role in this impressive service. There was a marvelous spirit of acceptance and joy as President Lee, at President Smith's direction, presented the charge to Elder Packer (formerly an Assistant to the Twelve) and the three new General Authorities before they were ordained and set apart at the next Thursday temple meeting." (Harold B. Lee: Prophet and Seer, L. Brent Goates, 414-415).

That was April, 1970. A year later in April 1971, the Church's growth trajectory was astounding to most observers. The 3-million-member mark was expected to be achieved by July of that year. Internationally the Church's growth presented some interesting new challenges in providing seasoned leadership to stay abreast of the membership growth.

By April 1972, President Harold B. Lee reflected about how he had selected his topic in his journal. He spoke of "many lonesome hours pondering what the Lord would have me say at the forthcoming general conference. My decision was to undertake the subject heading 'Time of Decision,' the caution in controversies, political and otherwise, and to offer five guidelines suggesting how all might be guided to wise decisions in their personal and public life. I feel content after my diligent search." (Ibid., 415; emphasis mine).

In reference to controversies that would accompany the intense political campaign in the fall of 1972, President Lee outlined five certainties by which one could detect and know the path to safety in the search for truth. These were: (1) Follow the Light of Christ within us. (2) Follow the positive teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (3) Do your business by the voice of the people. (4) Seek for statesmanlike men. (5) Judge by the light of gospel truths.

The full text of that talk can be found here. I will not recite it all, but his guidance those many years ago is about as fresh as it could possibly be for our day, even a day in which stories about his life and teachings are constantly being revised incorrectly by unwise accounts that circulate from unauthorized sources. The caution is imperative - do not accept as unchallenged truth what you find on the Internet.

This is what he said about "controversy." It's timeless: "In its loftiest sense, controversy may mean disputations because of honest differences of opinion. In its most degrading sense it may mean quarreling, strife, and name-calling. An example of that which degrades is the bitter personal abuse that so frequently is heaped upon an opposing candidate. Name-calling is continued throughout the whole season until listeners are left with doubt and mistrust that honor and integrity are to be found in any of those who may eventually be elected. The obvious hazard is that when these elected leaders have been maligned and down-graded, the seeds of disrespect to authority and law and order are sown in the minds of youth, particularly, instead of respectful obedience to counsel and to the laws enacted by those whose integrity and honesty have been thus impugned."

As we think back on the presidential campaign season of last year, could we have seen the fulfillment of the very conditions he warned about back in 1972?

President Harold B. Lee
He continues, speaking as though it were 2013: "Today we are constantly hearing from the unenlightened and misguided, who demand what they call free agency, by which they apparently mean, as evidenced by their conduct, that they have their agency to do as they please or to exercise their own self-will to determine what is law and order, what is right and wrong, or what is honor and virtue.

"These are frightening expressions when you reflect upon what I have just quoted from the revealed word of God. A moment’s reflection will help you to see that when one sets himself up to make his own rules and presumes to know no law but his own, he is but echoing the plan of Satan, who sought to ascend to God’s throne, as it were, in being the judge of all that rules mankind and the world. There has ever been, and ever will be, a conflict between the forces of truth and error; between the forces of righteousness and the forces of evil; between the dominion of Satan and the dominion under the banner of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ." 

In 2013, there may be no public policy debate more enticing to those who advocate "free agency" than the proponents of the LGBT agenda. This is not a "policy" debate like the blacks and the priesthood debate of the 60s and 70s era. This, instead, is a matter of doctrine. However, many "enlightened" sophists in the Church and outside it proclaim that equal rights under the law to the marriage laws of this country must be extended to any and all who would define marriage to suit themselves so it satisfies their free agency. Under the banner of "equality" access to rights granted by the Constitution, they would argue, must be extended in the domain of marriage definitions. It's a compelling argument in the public arena, but we cannot yield to it in eternal doctrines about the divine nature and origins of the family. The "equality" in the marriage debate is the inherent difference between men and women, and God makes them equal in that dichotomy.

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh. … And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great mediation of all men [meaning the atonement of the Savior], or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil. . . (2 Nephi 2:27).

. . . the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.” (2 Nephi 2:16).

I say this with all the love and tolerance for others' point of view I can muster: Do not confuse the seemingly plausible philosophies of men mingled with scripture regarding "agency" and "equality" with the revealed word of God. You can be tolerant of others without compromising the truth to comport with a twisted and contorted but seemingly reasonable and logical idea.

“Expedients are for an hour,” said Henry Ward Beecher, “but principles are for the ages.”

Said President Lee in this inspired sermon: "The Constitution of the United States has been mentioned several times by speakers in this conference as the basis of wise decisions in fundamental principles as applied to all matters pertaining to law and order, because it was framed by men whom God raised up for this very purpose. But in addition to that inspired document, we must always keep in mind that the greatest weapons that can be forged against any false philosophy are the positive teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Then he offered this: "It has been well said that one does not teach honesty by telling a man how to burglarize a safe, nor do we teach chastity by telling a youth all about sexual activities." How unwise our public education curriculum has become by teaching that LGBT couples and adopted children can be defined as "families." Tolerate it in the expanse of a pluralistic society we must, but accept it as a "doctrine" in opposition to the revealed word is the course no serious disciple of Jesus Christ would pursue.

His counsel on who to look for as adequate candidates to represent us in our republic: "In a word, we must seek for statesmenlike men who will ask, 'Is it right and is it good for the country or the community?' instead of those who may merely ask, 'Is it politically expedient?'" I'll leave that interpretation to the reader.

He summarizes how we may always remain on the path of safety in this chaotic world in which we live: "And now, finally, the supreme of all certainties is God’s eternal plan as given in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here we have given us the never-failing principles that will keep our feet firmly planted on the path of safety. By these eternal principles we can readily detect truth from error. In the earliest revelations of our dispensation we were told that the gospel teachings were given that 'inasmuch as they have erred it might be made known; And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed.'” (D&C 1:25–26).

Friday, March 1, 2013

Packsize Responds to Voice of the Customer

Packsize International is putting big smiles on the faces of their customers. When you order goods online to be delivered, you're the customer of our customers. Many have complained when they open a package from the large online retailers that their goods come in a box way too big filled with styrofoam peanuts, air pillows or crumbled up newspaper. Our customers have been listening to their customers who open those boxes, and we've solved the problem for everyone. A typical example of inefficient packaging is not hard to find, as these pictures illustrate:

60% void in this box - shipping air
This box contained some stereo components, and came filled with styrofoam peanuts that filled a bag (see below). Shipping "air" is a very costly proposition, since shippers are charging for the space inside the box whether it's filled or not. Customers hate receiving boxes like these because of the waste generated by the fillers.

Last year I ordered a handbag on line for my wife. The box I got was five times larger than the contents and it was filled with crushed newsprint.

Here's the bag of peanuts - all waste
Consumers are now demanding that their providers offer a more intelligent solution. Without identifying the company in these pictures, the story has a happy ending. This company, like Staples, has adopted Packsize technology and is well on its way to reducing their overall costs associated with their corrugated supply chain by 60%.

These are significant costs that can be completely eliminated. We engage our potential new customers with a complimentary business case to prove the cost savings before we ask for a commitment from them. We want to make certain we have surfaced all their packaging and shipping inefficiencies associated with current operations, then suggest what might happen if they adopt On Demand Packaging(TM).

A recent article appeared in DC Velosity describing the Packsize revolution in packaging, and specifically the gains Staples has made by answering the voice of their customer in demanding more efficient packaging. Not the least of the benefits cited by Staples is the increased sustainability of their corrugated supply chain, but their decision has dramatically reduced their carbon footprint annually. And that's a good thing for Mother Earth.

It's a compelling story that is rapidly gaining acceptance as companies increasingly give heed to the voice of their customer.