Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

20 August 2015

The Book of Acts and International Growth/Risk (from a corporate perspective)

Response from the Professor: 
"Orion, that was an excellent coverage of an international risk. Class, are there other risks associated with this?  What are your thoughts?"                         
[Feel free to leave yours at the end] 
The Book of Acts and International Growth

 While studying for this week’s homework assignment, I also find myself preparing to teach my Sunday school lesson throughout the week as well, as is often the case. I am surprised that more often than not the subject matter is pleasantly similar. For example, the subjects I wish to discuss in this forum are the perils and challenges of international operations, and the subject that I am covering in Sunday School is the book of the Acts of the Apostles (in the New Testament), specifically chapters ten through fifteen which deal predominately with the challenge of a congregational or local organization that has been tasked with taking the message and ministry globally. While my personal experience in international business is limited, I see some similarities in what the early Christian church dealt with, and International businesses today. The subtle challenge to deal with is that often, current businesses are more geared to focus on profit maximization while the early church was more focused on establishing and sustaining a more mission focused strategy. This can still prove to be a helpful model, as many Non-profit organizations are effectively more focused on a sustainable mission rather than profit-bearing decisions and thus establishing a more unique set of risks (Michalski, 2012).

Some of the predominant struggles of an international focus may not seem to directly focus on financial decisions, but are still factors in the decision for growth strategies. Topics such as cultural diversity, standard operating procedures, economies of scale and scope, and the fear of existing competitors, as well as new entrants, are the concern of both the early Christian church, and businesses today. To go from one culture in Jerusalem, with its unique blend of different dialects and cultures and expanding to one that would include Greek, Roman, Ethiopian, and other cultures would go beyond merely understanding what is best for the whole group. Changes would need to be made that could accommodate the new locations while not losing the prior formation’s interest or passion. One of the greatest challenges of expansion is ensuring a new budget and balanced resources can meet the needs of the expanded presence. If the resources are spread too thin, they can become weak in certain areas; therefore, an effective means of keeping current assets at a manageable level becomes a driving factor for the organization (p. 361).

A struggle than can ensue in international growth, especially one that hopes to blend different opportunities, must also worry about leadership and hierarchy structures. What may have worked in one branch or area may not work in another. Chapter fifteen of Acts mentions the covenant of circumcision as a ‘regulation’ to belong to the organization, but as they expanded to the ‘Gentile’ nations, this requirement was discussed, revealed, and rescinded for the additional proselytes (while still giving them specific requirements that they would need to meet). This may also be the case when multiple currencies of different nations are involved. One may be the predominant currency with it’s associated rates and risks, and the less dominant one may struggle to keep up. While there are such balances as Purchasing Power Parity to keep finances in check, there can still be some risks involved, or a more relative approach rather than absolute (Ross, et al, 2013). These types of concerns may differ depending on the industry, but they are still there (Greenwald, 2012).

Political challenges must be dealt with as well, as the organization must provide the social responsibility of benefiting the culture with which they hope to assimilate (Rammohan, 2010, See also Ross, et al, 2013). Rammohan discusses the need to smooth over the process, understand the culture, and discuss why the organization can benefit the community. The early church dealt with this risk in excess. There were constant feuds with both religious leaders as well as political figures such as Herod and King Agrippa. The church sought to visit with the leaders directly, built on common ground when possible, and taught in the synagogues and places of worship offered to them. This particular risk can be the most difficult as regulations and legal matters often slow or stop progress, as well as stagnant international growth. It is interesting to see from the examples in Acts that each region would react differently. Some would be more accepting, some would seek certain favors or benefits in return, while others would outwardly reject them. The organization was the same, but acclimating to each culture is what provided the different responses.

In managing these risks, the leaders of the church eventually needed to change the base of operations to a more conducive environment. While this situation may not always work, it is certainly feasible to assess different reactions to various locations to ensure proper acclimation. Some industries offer Beta testing while many restaurants change various elements to their menu to accommodate each region differently. As far as helping with different currency risks and parity, it would be a crucial element of the financial team to ensure that the correct methods of accounting are maximized to account for various international challenges such as interest rates, exchange rates, and spot prices. Just as the international church was able to communicate effectively to expand growth, mitigate risk, and assess changes (Such as letters or other official forms of communication), so to must the international business of today communicate, adapt, and expand to meet the needs of an international community.


GREENWALD, J. (2012). Regulatory risks differ by industry. Business Insurance, 46(4), 10.

EFFICIENCY. Economics, Management & Financial Markets, 7(4), 360-376.

Rammohan, S. (2010). Fueling Growth. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 8(3), 68-71.

Ross, S. A., Westerfield, R. W., & Jordan, B. D. (2013). Fundamentals of corporate finance (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

17 August 2015

Participation Trophies as seen from a type B coach

So, there's a news story going around, or more so someone famous tweeting something and everyone either cheering or disdaining that tweet, which I think is interesting and possibly a controversial subject: Participation trophies. Some are especially praiseworthy of the tweet, as seen here http://louderwithcrowder.com/steelers-player-james-harrison-wants-his-sons-to-grow-into-men-will-return-participation-trophies/

So basically James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers found out his children received participation trophies for a sporting activity (I'm assuming football, although it is one of many moderately important details of the narrative that are lacking thus far).

This post is probably one that would be deemed controversial for me to write about since the above mentioned article says that this would enrage liberals and such, of which I typically don't characterize myself. But I do find issue with the articles and the tweet, and not just because I'm a Ravens fan and don't like the Steelers at all. 

When I say issue, I am of course not enraged or plan on fighting free speech or anything like that: obviously he can say and do whatever he wants to raise his family and I'm none the worse for wear. I do not like, however, the idea that all participation recognition is bad. If his kids were in their 10th year of the sport, or something that was competition or tournament based, by all means, recognizing everyone who participated would be a bit redundant. 

Although this may come as a shock to some, recieving a blanket trophy does not make the kids think they have won.

I coach soccer for U5-U6 kids (the ones where we don't "keep score" and where everyone on each team gets a trophy). Aghast! I know. Save your comments for the end. When I started coaching over a year ago, I probably wondered how not keeping scores and everyone receiving a trophy would effect everyone. I am also closely identify with Type B more than type A personalities, so I wasn't having Two-a-days in the rain with 5 year olds. We would just "do our best". But guess what? Those kids all knew what the score was and who "lost" even though adults weren't always telling them. I would tell them the score if they asked, but honestly they would keep track better than me sometimes (because coaching and refereeing 5-6 year olds is daunting). 

Which brings a new point. I gave the trophies for a variety of reasons. Besides the league asking me to, I realized the growth that these kids would achieve by playing. We were asking 5-6 year old kids to participate in a sport that many hadn't played before with people that they've never met on days and nights that they would probably rather be doing other things (Saturday morning every week?).

The author above compared jobs to sports saying that he's never gotten "good job accolades" at his job. But guess what? I'm sure he got paid for his job. I'm sure there were some perks to it (although comparing his life to children's is odd, because he probably doesn't still get his lunch packed for him, or have people but his clothes for him, but maybe he does). The only accolades that come from participating in some sports are fruit and Popsicles at the end of the game and during breaks, as well as a reminder of an awesome season of learning new skills, meeting new people, and winning a few games. 

While some wouldn't said "doing your best" should be rewarded, I like coming to work because I like to get paid. There are other benefits, but that's a nice perk. Getting paid is synonymous with keeping a job, and recognizes that individual for what they have done. So do "participation trophies". Kids don't get paid to be there, they spend money, time, effort, and extra sandwiches every week to do something that they chose to do (or that their parents are having them do to fulfill unfulfilled dreams of being a superstar and getting to college on a scholarship). 

So before we speak down to the kids, assuming they think that a trophy is synonymous with winning (because the five year olds picked up on that), it's a way to recognize hard work, dedication, skillsets, social skills, and not playing video games, which are all things I want my children to pick up on, and why as a coach I will always offer whatever I can to recognize them. 

True competition is more than being better than everyone else, it's about being better than your prior self. 


14 August 2015

Peter and Paul; a pattern for leadership (Part 1)

I'm a fan of a couple things when it comes to reading. I like underdogs, patterns, origin stories, and thinking about characters and people who don't get a lot of attention (Mr. Fezziwig from 'A Christmas Carol is a personal favorite). 

The scriptures contain glimpses of people who are main elements to the narrative, but can seem overshadowed by later individuals. Studying the Gospels and the Book of Acts, I have noticed Peter quite a bit.

While some give him a bad rap sometimes, he is a vital and powerful leader who helped establish the Church into a global model after Christ was resurrected [see http://www.lds.org/manual/the-life-and-teachings-of-jesus-and-his-apostles/appendix-section/appendix-d?lang=eng by Pres. Kimball and The Lengthening Shadow of Peter 


By Brother Holland (Dean of Religious Education at BYU at the time) for some great insight into how amazing Peter is, despite some faults that are thrust upon him].

Peter is interesting because he is bookmarked between two dynamic characters (namely Christ and Paul) which full a good amount of the New Testament. His powerful testimony is seen strongly in the beginnings of Acts and holds the Keys of revelation and leadership to lead the church. The church grows from somewhat of a congregational setting or loca/tabernacle oriented and into a global focus that focuses on different cultures and establishing doctrine within a variety of frameworks. 

I like characters like this because the small amount of teachings they give us are precious and impactful. Prophets like Lehi and Alma the Elder are similar to me.  Lehi had some amazing teachings in the eary part of the Book of Mormon but we can often move past his narrative to get to Nephi's, which is more lengthy and spread out. A favorite discussion on the emphasis of Lehi's Ministry can be seen here: 

We think of him as an older man, patiently waiting on his children to grow and learn the gospel, but as a younger prophet he moves emphatically and establishes a pattern of discipleship for those over whom he had stewardship.

Alma sr. Has a similar background. We see the record of his son with greater emphasis in the middle of the Book of Mormon but the establishment of the church in his day was brought about through him, and the doctrines, keys, and teachings he brought forth, while smaller in size, are rich in insights, especially regarding leadership (both family and ecclesiastical) as well as personal worship. 

As we study the scriptures, we hear the names of Lehi, Alma sr. And Peter, but often we read them as a prelude to the works and teachings of Nephi, Alma jr. And Paul. While not diminishing the importance of the latter examples, it is beneficial to recognize the importance of the ministries of the former patriarchs and prophets and focus on the emphasis that their specific ministries had on building the Kingdom of God.

How have the ministries of those prophets benefits your personal ministry and worship?

09 August 2015

Beyond the Gospels: the Book of Acts, or Luke part 2

We started discussing Acts in Gospel Doctrine today, and after starting with the introduction of Luke (both to Theophilus, "lover of God" -- Theo meaning God, and Philo meaning a type of love) I realized that Luke is a great compiler, correlator, and recorder of witnesses.

 His major testimony seems to focus on those who have already heard the gospel and likely accepted it, so his teachings of the mission of Christ focus more as a church handbook, mentioning frequently the principle of mercy, many teachings regarding the Shepherd and correctly watching over the flock, and church leadership. 

Moving into Acts was a natural continuing of his record in that sense because the book of Acts is not merely an historical record or a journal or biographical scetch of their lives but a continuation of the record of the church to the church. It records the gifts, blessings, and signs that follow them that believe, and acts as a reflection of a courtroom between those who believed in Christ and those who did not. 

An interesting transition happens in that the burden of proof seems to shift. Those against Jesus were needing him to die in order that the testator would no longer be able to testify. Those for Jesus needed Him to die also, in part and of great importance to do so to fulfill the atonement and provide the redeeming effort to overcome death and sin. It also needed to happen in order that the blood of the testator could seal the testimony that had been given. 

[for more information on the role of a testator compared to the role of a martyr, see an interesting article by Taylor Halverson: http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/to-seal-the-testimony-dc-135/

One of my favorite parts includes the following:

In this regard, those against Jesus were concerned because the works that they hoped would only be contained in the person of Jesus (His miracles, healings, teachings, and power) but after His death, the works of God continued in greater power. Peter would testify strongly that All could now call on the name of the Lord and partake of the atonement without the intercession of the high priest.

 Previous to this, the name of Jehovah would only be uttered in the temple once a year but here was Peter proclaiming that all can call on the name of Jesus (a lengthier discussion of this is in the Mormon Interpreter Gospel Doctrine Roundtable of the first block in Acts-I believe number 125-6). This was not to take the place of ordinances because in the same chapter (Acts 2) he proclaimed that all who felt the "pricking in the heart" of the Holy Ghost would need to repent and be baptized and then receive the fulness of the Gift of Holy Ghost as they had just received during Pentecoast. 

The end of chapter 2 mentions the blessings and responsibilities of those who join the church: 

42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

They continued to listen to the Doctrine of Christ taught by the Apostles and the revelations set forth by them to lead the church. They would also fellowship, pray, break bread (partake of the sacrament), they would hold fear (reverence and respect) for the Holy things of God, and see and receive many signs and wonders by the apostles (t). They would hold the concept of unity, striving for a "Zion" mentality wherein there would be no poor among them (that's a whole discussion in itself but for a good conversation on it, see Steven C Harper:

The saints (members of the church) would give of their time visiting the homes of each member (serving, teaching), their talents and financial means as available, and they would call upon God and praise Him individually and as a church, and thus the church grew.

Lots more in the following chapters, but a great start to the remainder of the Bible beyond the gospels. 

What are your favorite parts of the Book of Acts?

06 August 2015

3 important things to learn in life

If I could teach three concepts to people regarding education it would be this:

1. Dont go to school for something you're passionate about. Go to school for something that enhances what you're passionate about. You'll focus on what you're passionate about regardless. 

2. Don't worry about listening to everything people have to say. Sometimes it may not be what you need right now. 

3. Repitition can serve two purposes. It can be redundant or informative. It's up to you to choose how to utilize it.

3. Repitition can serve two purposes. It can be redundant or informative. It's up to you to choose how to utilize it.

23 July 2015

The Power of Premeditated Prayer, Part II (Gospel Doctrine Lesson 25)

I was realizing that my very first blog post was around this time, four years ago. That post, "the Power of premeditated prayer" was a reflection of thoughts as a learner in Sunday school. This past week, I had the opportunity to cycle back through that particular block of scripture, but this time as a teacher (as well as a learner). 

The significance of the Savior's mission has expanded greatly since that post. I have been able to teach the Old Testament, as well as current Church History, since then. Seeing the power of the faithful covenant-keepers in the Old Testament (as well as those who struggled) and their faith in a redeemer, the Lord's constant desire to draw His people close to him, and the promise of redemption, culminated in the last week of the life of Jesus Christ. The power of the meaning behind the various festivals (discussed in an earlier post) and the love and power that Jesus taught to his disciples are seen in strong relief in the week of the suffering in the garden (initiating the atonement by being reckoned with the transgressors) and the crucifixion.

The prayer in the Garden was a focal point in the lesson, just as it was in looking at it four years ago. I found a few additional points of interest in the process. Peter, who was commanded to strengthen his brethren after being converted, brings questions about what true conversion is, and what the fruits of it are. He finds the trusted three (Peter, James, and John) asleep three times during his suffering in the Garden (known as the place of the olive press, significantly). He asked them to stay awake more than once, knowing that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Before we judge them too harshly, we must ask ourselves what we have slept through when the Lord has asked us to do something. Are not those tasks just as simple in many occasions? "Stay awake and Pray" "stay awake and study My word" and "stay awake and love one another"

There is a recent general conference address called "sleeping through the restoration" and questions similar to the ones above are mentioned. "Awakening and arising" are the first part to true conversion. He calls Peter out specifically in the Garden to stay awake. 

In the original post, the primary focus was on the ability to pray with purpose, and in a place that is familiar, or where one is used to communing with God. This is significant, and an additional insight comes in John 18:2. We can and should be prepared to feel revelation, but the adversary also knows our hopes to commune, and will either prevent us from so doing, or will attempt to attack us in the moment of our hope. Jesus was able to be fortified by Angels (symbolizing the Aaronic Priesthood, caring for the temporal needs) and the Apostles (signifying the Melchizedek Priesthood, or
Administrating the spiritual needs) and through the power of Christ, eventually overcame the adversary, the final enemy being death.

We can gain strength in overcoming adversity as we partake of similar ministering. Honoring covenants given through the Aaronic priesthood such as baptism and the sacrament, and the Melchizedek through following the prompting of the Spirit and the Temple.

17 July 2015

Heroes: More than one superman; universe

Lately I've been confused when people discuss Heroes and other such people and topics. It is as if we can only have one hero at a time. Is it because in the world of comic books, there is only one superman (in most storylines anyway)? What if there was two supermans? "Well, that's just ridiculous!" Two Batmans? "No need!" But wait! There is another "universe" that also has superheroes like Spider-Man and the Avengers, and yet another with ones like Spawn and Youngblood (Image comics)
And yet another with Rai, Archer and Armstrong (Valiant Universe)
, Or what about this guy:

Oh, you haven't heard of them? They must not be superheroes then, right? Not of the same caliber or eschelon at least. Maybe not to you, but to others they are just as super. These remind us of the impossible and discovering that things may not always remain that way.

And this is just one genre of superheroes with multiple universes. What of sports and athletes? Again we have baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and even golf. These are heroes that remind us of goals, overcoming impossible hurdles, and other concepts.

And of course we have heroes who sacrifice for others: Public service such as police, firefighters, nurses, and quiet service such as ministers, bishops, Apostles, and others.

There can be heroes for a cause as well. Civil, religious, social, and otherwise. Whether the cause is publicly acknowledged or shunned, it is nevertheless still a cause. What one may consider necessary and essential, others may consider ridiculous. 

My main point is that it sounds preposterous to say that this person or that isn't a hero because this one is. Why compare  the two? On a national stage, I can understand some frustration, but even then, the hero may not represent your cause but could be considered a hero nonetheless in the eyes of another. 

A hero is not nominated, for we don't have the power to make a hero. A hero stands and represents the principles espoused whether anyone sees it or not. My parents are heroes, but you may not even know who they are. My wife is a superhero but she's not in the daily bugle or heralded in the press. Does that make her less of a hero? Does one go through ranks such as hero, superhero, and god because so many people recognize them? No. They are such whether one person is affected or the whole world.

Don't attempt to reduce someone else's hero because you think there is one better. Share what you know about your hero and get to know the heroes of others. You'd be surprised what you can learn from others. 

10 July 2015

July Tenth, My personal Yom Kippur, Seinfield, and Gospel Doctrine Lesson #24 (NT)

Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.

Abstract: In the Book of Mormon, specifically in the book of Nephi (19:23) the prophet is discussing with his family some difficult passages in the Brass Plates, or the Hebrew Scriptures (primarily the teachings of Isaiah, as well as Moses). One way that he helps to expound the teachings is with a phrase that they should "liken" the scriptures unto them, that the scriptures may be for their profit and learning (Or a lamp unto their feet as the Psalmist says). This discussion focuses on a verse that I have likened unto myself. I do not claim scholarly expertise in Hebrew, Old Testament literature, or hold a high amount of information on specifics to the rites, ordinances, and feasts in the Old Testament, but I do find them incredibly interesting and useful in many ways, especially as I study the New Testament this year and find the Savior "likening" the Feasts and Ordinances to His primary messages, as in the Feast of Tabernacles when he references Light and Water -- Two symbols of the Feast -- in John 7-9 (See Here and Here for some examples of that). My purpose in writing this is more for personal reflection and likening to myself and less for scholarship and exact understanding of Jewish Feasts, but perhaps in so doing, more ways to liken scriptures will be found.


I have forgotten the day and setting at which I found the verse located above, whether it came from a general reading of the Old Testament, or from a more purposeful study of topics. The latter is more acknowledged, because I was at the time preparing for my mission and going through preparations to go to the Temple for the first time. My "Temple Prep" experience was uniquely inspiring to me, as it primarily involved a meeting with my Bishop wherein he gave me a list of words to study, such as Creation, Sacrifice, Atonement, and other words that held significance to worship in the scriptures. He stated, to my recollection, that if I were to carefully study the words that he gave me, that I 
would find understanding of, and sources to, the Temple experience (Paraphrasing, but it was a helpful conversation to me, as I had graduated Seminary recently and found great comfort in the scriptures, as well as treasures of knowledge). I had received my mission call sometime after that, or possibly before, but the date of my mission was on July 10 (Today being the 13th anniversary of that date). At some point after the call, I saw this verse and the date struck me as significant as the Day of Atonement, purification, soul-afflicting, and an offering of fire. I was and am aware that the calendar recollection is different for the Hebrew calendar (see Calendar to the right). Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement typically occurs in our reckoning in September or October, but in the Seventh Month (Tishri) in the Jewish Calendar. I enjoyed this verse, and others like it when I thought about the day I would leave for my mission. I realize that it was primarily coincidental, but one that gave me a great deal of "likening" for I was about to serve the Lord as an ordained minister as an Elder in His church, going out to the world to testify of the Mission of Jesus Christ and His Atonement and Ministry. I realized then, and even more now, that that was an offering of "fire", and purification was necessary. Not merely purification of the soul, but of temporal concerns, as well as spiritual and emotional ones. A constant prayer before my service as a missionary was that I would be prepared emotionally, spiritually, and physically for the experience. My soul was afflicted through the experience (in good ways) because I was able to become more than I was through that and other experiences. 

 I think that the Pattern in the Calendar listed above is significant as well. While I don't understand all of the intents and facets of them, there is some neat correlations to Christian and more specifically Latter-Day Saint traditions and patterns. For example, the passover relates firstly to the Hebrew Scriptures in reference to Moses:

"And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this self-same day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever. …And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.” (Ex. 12:17, 26–27.)

It is later referenced by Jesus as a reference to His resurrection when Death would "pass over" all mankind. President Hunter, a Modern Apostle and well-versed in the Old Testament said:

"I believe it is safe to say that Passover is without equal in the Jewish calendar of celebrations. It is the oldest of the Jewish festivals, celebrating an event in advance of receiving the traditional Mosaic Law. It reminds every generation of the return of the children of Israel to the promised land and of the great travail in Egypt which preceded it. It commemorates the passage of a people from subjection and bondage to freedom and deliverance. It is the Old Testament festival of springtime when the world of nature awakens to life, growth, and fruition.
Passover is linked with the Christian observance of Easter which we celebrate this weekend in this great conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Passover in the Old Testament and Easter in the New Testament testify of the great gift God has given and of the sacrifice that was involved in its bestowal. Both of these great religious commemorations declare that death would “pass over” us and could have no permanent power upon us, and that the grave would have no victory."

In remembrance of His sacrifice, the Sacrament of Bread and Water were instituted. It is taken to remember the covenant of Baptism, and that soon a promised comforter would come. A major manifestation of that comforter would be known as the day of Pentecost. Elder Oaks, another Apostle explains further:

When He introduced the sacrament, the Savior also gave teachings and promises about the Holy Ghost. On that sacred occasion known as the Last Supper, Jesus explained the mission of the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost. The Comforter would testify of Him and reveal other truths. Jesus also explained that He had to leave His disciples in order for the Comforter to come to them. When I depart, He told them, “I will send him unto you” (John 16:7). After His Resurrection, He told His Apostles to tarry in Jerusalem until they were given “power from on high” (Luke 24:49). That power came when “the promise of the Holy Ghost” was “shed forth” upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:33).

The pattern continues, as the first ordinances of the Gospel are Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. 

The Feast of Trumpets (also known as Rosh Ha-Shanah) has interesting history, as it relates the the restoration of the Gospel in the latter-days, and specifically the doctrine of Gathering. The primary symbolism is of God remembering the Covenants and restoring anew from exile. Trumpets signify revelation and a call to Israel (Good articles Here [Quote below] and Here):

Joseph Smith received the golden plates on the Israelite Day of Remembrance (or Rosh ha-Shanah).
Biblical references and interpretation by Jewish sages through the centuries set this day as the day God would remember his covenants with Israel to bring them back from exile. Also called the Feast of Trumpets, this day features ritual trumpet blasts to signify the issuance of revelation and a call for Israel to gather for God’s word of redemption. The day,which is set at the time of Israel’s final agricultural harvest, also symbolizes the Lord’s final harvest of souls. Furthermore, it initiates the completion of the Lord’s time periods, the Days of Awe, and signifies the last time to prepare for final judgment and the Messianic Age. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is literally fulfilling such prophecies of the day.

The principle of remembering does well for the individual just as it does for the nation, as one commits oneself through the covenant of the Gospel. One of my favorite analogies regarding remembering and covenants comes, light-heartedly enough, from Seinfield. 

Making Covenants is not important in and of itself; it is the remembering and keeping of them that truly matter. Thus, after making the initial covenants, we are to remember them after we make them. 

The Day of Atonement shortly follows the feast of trumpets, signifying a purification and readiness once the call has been made. following that, an even greater outpouring of light and water are promised through the Feast of Tabernacles. I have found great strength in studying the New Testament this year and recognizing the format, or conditions of the covenants, as well as the promised blessings of them. For example, the discussion of Jesus with Nicodemus at the beginning of His ministry included a discussion of being born of water and the Spirit, which has many connotations, including baptism of water and the gift of the Holy Ghost, as well as a recognition of following both the conditional elements of the covenants (the requirements) as well as not simply completing them in form only, but truly allowing the ordinance with its accompanying covenants to change the individual, or to become. It is no small significance that at the end of His ministry, he is reiterating similar principles in the Feast of Tabernacles with His I AM statements of being the Light and the Water (as well as the Bread, the True Vine, and so one). John 7:37 references the Last Great Day, but whether this refers to the Feast mentioned, or simply the last day of the Prior feast is unknown to me at this time. It shows a completeness and fulfilling of covenants when Jesus asks them to come unto Him and partake of a lasting Peace, rather than anything temporal, and this is what we are asked to do as well as we prepare for our own "Last Great Day". 

Hanukkah is a sacred Feast day as well, and in my mind associated with a redeemed state, or one that is completed after a final battle. Similar to the feelings of rejoicing after all enemies are conquered, Death being the final one, this Feast recognizes a redemption through action and covenants as well as faith in a Redeemer. 

Purim to me signifies a complete freedom from governments, kingdoms, and other entities that will occur when One comes to govern over all the earth in wholeness and Fulness. Similar to the prior Feast, redemption is at hand, and rejoicing in being able to to governed in purity.

That was a bit of a lengthy discussion, and I appreciate your attention. It is fascinating, even from such a cursory glance to look at the Jewish feasts, how Jesus incorporated then into His teachings, and how overall we can view them as an overarching personal journey as individuals who are seeking to build the kingdom of God through ordinances.

James E Faust, another modern apostle, elucidates on counsel from Joseph Smith regarding being Born Again in this way:

Today I wish to speak about the blessings that flow from covenants with the Lord. As a foundation, I begin with the covenant the Lord made with the house of Israel: “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” 1
This covenant is universal for those of any race being “baptized into Christ.” 2 As Paul states, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” 3
Covenants are not simply outward rituals; they are real and effective means of change. “Being born again, comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances.” 4 We should always honor and keep sacred the saving covenants we make with the Lord. If we do, He has promised, “Thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.” 5
I am ever grateful for the covenants I have made with the Lord and my family, and am grateful for the pattern in the scriptures that shows the true power behind the outward rituals. Jesus Christ taught regarding them while on the earth, and continues to do so with His church today. I know that the ceremonies, feasts, and ordinances mentioned are sacred and this was in no way a comprehensive or scholarly approach to how they were performed or their significance anciently, but a recollection and a likening to help my in my personal ministry and understanding.

Feel free to share your insights, approaches, and understanding in the comments below.

[For study purposes, if you click on underlined links of names, it will take you to the full address of the sermon discussed].

03 July 2015

Information that Invites to Action (Applications to Corporate Finance and Sunday School)

Answering a discussion Question:
"Are we calculating time value of money just so we can maximize the use of Excel?  What is the real purpose of doing these calculations?  In some of my experiences, even at universities and other business, the results of time value of money/net present value/internal rate or return are printed on some format but never really discussed in detail. Why is this?"

My Response:
I appreciate your question, as it is very relevant to the discussion at hand. While understanding that the present value of money is important to business decisions, not all businesses (as you mention) treat the information the same. Just as the term value means different things to different people, so to does the combination of time with it. Because debt, investment, and capital instruments are available, organizations need to understand how they work (Bauman, 1965). I have worked within companies that present a budgeting dashboard, but with fleeting fancy and lacking transference of financial acumen to the employees. While Excel and other software provide pretty pictures and an assurance that whoever creates them knows what they are doing, the real benefit to them is the information contained, and the actions taken from them. Information that is actionable can impact managerial decisions in many industries (Scorte & Farcas, 2013).
A key point to the discussion is that information alone is not enough. They must provide invitations to act. While currently serving as a Sunday school teacher, one of the key points of training in such a role is that a teacher is not a source of distilling information, but given three initiatives in such a role: Teach Doctrine, Invite to Action, and Promise Blessings (Sunday School, 2011). While this is true for teachers, it is also true for any dissemination of information, financial or otherwise. Business tools such as dashboards, in and of themselves, are insufficient to provide results – they must be acted on effectively and be quality-driven (Wieder, et al, 2012). Simply having information should not be the end result of financial analysis. Dashboards can be used for simple activities like showing ledgers, accounts payable, and other horizontal processes (Banham, 2009) but from the pretty colors and diagrams must come customizable and effective decisions to lead the organization.
Whether or not organizations utilize the information that analysts provide can stem from a variety of sources, including resource availability (Julian & Ofori-dankwa, 2013), only using them for specific purposes such as marketing (Guiyang & Sundar, 2013), or simply lacking understanding. Other reasons can include the need to reflect regulatory transparency, only wanting to reflect good news, and assisting shareholders understand information (Wasley & Shuang Wu, 2006). Whatever the reason, many companies, teachers, and individuals could do better with not merely having information, but effectively using it as a financial tool.
Banham, R. (2009). Revving Up Dashboards. Treasury & Risk, 38-40.
Bauman, W. S. (1965). The Investment Value of Common Stock Earnings and Dividends. Financial Analysts Journal, 21(6), 98-104.
GUIYANG, X., & SUNDAR, B. (2013). Asymmetric Roles of Advertising and Marketing Capability in Financial Returns to News: Turning Bad into Good and Good into Great.Journal Of Marketing Research (JMR), 50(6), 706-724. doi:10.1509/jmr.12.0278
Julian, S. D., & Ofori-dankwa, J. C. (2013). Financial resource availability and corporate social responsibility expenditures in a sub-Saharan economy: The institutional difference hypothesis. Strategic Management Journal, 34(11), 1314-1330. doi:10.1002/smj.2070
Scorţe, C., & Farcaş, M. (2013). THE IMPACT OF ACCOUNTING INFORMATION ON MANAGERIAL DECISIONS - THEORETICAL APPROACHES. Annals Of The University Of Oradea, Economic Science Series, 22(2), 692-702. 
WASLEY, C. E., & SHUANG WU, J. (2006). Why Do Managers Voluntarily Issue Cash Flow Forecasts?. Journal Of Accounting Research, 44(2), 389-429. doi:10.1111/j.1475-679X.2006.00206.x
Wieder, B., Ossimitz, M., & Chamoni, P. (2012). The Impact of Business Intelligence Tools on Performance: A User Satisfaction Paradox?. International Journal Of Economic Sciences & Applied Research,5(3), 7-32.

27 June 2015

The Investiture of Agents; Also Lesson 22 in Gospel Doctrine this week

Another discussion of Religious principles being able to be used in an organizational context 
(one of my favorite subjects of discussion)

~~Written as an assignment for an MBA class:

The discussion this week regarding agency costs and a successful principal/agent relationship and my role in it is most fitting for me this week. I teach a Sunday School class to adults every Sunday, and the topic this particular week is from Matthew chapter 25. I started to notice similar patterns to Principal/Agent relationships in the teachings of Jesus to his disciples (an interesting parallel to Principals and Agents). As a Principal “establishes appropriate incentives” (Jensen & Meckling, 1979) we see the parable of the talents wherein the Principal (the Lord) gives talents (objectives/motivators) to the Agent (One who bonded to the principal through covenant) and the agent sought to maximize the value of the Lord’s investment. Those who maximized their talent (value) were given more, while the one who decided not to invest or improve did not receive the desired reward and was taken away even what he had to start.

The other parable mentioned in the chapter discussed the ten virgins going to a wedding feast. As Agents (Again, those who are bonded through covenants to the Principal), they were given specific instructions to be followed through upon the master’s return. Some were able to successfully utilize their resources and remained sustainable until the desired outcome (The feast) while those whose resources were depleted and unable to gain more were not rewarded the same. A final message in the chapter mentions a main objective by a master teacher. He asks others to do as he would do. To those the agents serve, it becomes synonymous with serving their master (the Principal).

From a Principal/Agent perspective, the Principal is in effect asking the Agents to act as the Principal, thus bestowing investiture. Implementing a process of investiture is an effective tool of motivating new employees to become part of the organization (Ashforth & Saks, 1996) as well as incorporating non-financial motivation which can fuel social responsibility (Campopiano, et al, 2012). When an Agent is involved in an organization on a deeper level than financial remuneration, sustainability efforts can increase. A religious leader, focusing on developing an understanding of becoming a part of an organization states- with an invitation to action: “May God bless us with a sense of our place in history and, having been given that sense, with our need to stand tall and walk with resolution in a manner becoming the Saints of the Most High” (Hinckley, 1999).

In my experience, social responsibility comes from understanding the history of an organization and then realizing that by becoming a part of the organization, one becomes a part of that history, developing from an Agent into an investitured Principal. Once the responsibility becomes personal, it deepens. In my role as an Agent, I need to find more ways to understand my organization and thus deepen my role so that I can affect more change. I must also recognize ways to magnify my role, in addition to understanding it.

Ashforth, B. K., & Saks, A. M. (1996). SOCIALIZATION TACTICS: LONGITUDINAL EFFECTS ON NEWCOMER ADJUSTMENT. Academy Of Management Journal, 39(1), 149-178. doi:10.2307/256634

Campopiano, G., De Massis, A., & Cassia, L. (2012). THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MOTIVATIONS AND ACTIONS IN CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY. International Journal Of Business & Society, 13(3), 391-412.

Hinckley, G.B. (1999, November) At the Summit of the Ages, Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/1999/11/at-the-summit-of-the-ages?lang=eng

Jensen, M. C., & Meckling, W. H. (1979). Theory of the firm, managerial behavior, agency costs, and ownership structure. Journal of Financial Economics, 3, 305–360.

Please feel free to share your thoughts!

13 February 2015

Jesus' calling to the twelve apostles: Part 1

In the New Testament, we start to see Jesus become even more of a master teacher through His calling of the twelve Apostles. From this point on, He is not only providing healings, miracles, parables, and other teachings to individuals, but at the same time, He is able to use those same examples to train and teach His future leaders. 

As witnesses of Him, they are then able to better teach because of the experiences thy they witnesses. They became witnessss not only of His death and Resurrection but of his life and teachings. 

A habit that I started to develop while waking the halls at church with little ones, (taking trips to the bathroom, calming them down, carrying them as litte ones, etc) is to look at the wonderful artwork  that is displayed throughout the building. 

As I look at the art, I try to find or see something new or of greater insight or understanding.

For example, take this one, which I love!

After looking at it one day, I realized thy Jesus is clothed in his traditional attire, a robe, while the fisherman (Later the first two Twelve apostles) are clothed or covered very minimally. A scripture came to mind as I was looking at this from the Book of Mormon:

Speaking of the power of the resurrection and the second coming of Christ, Jacob, Nephi's brother, testified in this way

Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness.
2 Nephi 9:14


This made me think of the power of the atonement, often spoken of analogously as the robe of righteousness (see previous post on the subject: Kafar).
When Christ calls those as his witnesses, the artist, knowingly or unknowingly, portrays those who are seeking him as needing to be covered. 

Some in the world today may not think they need His covering, or to partake of His name and embrace His covenants, but as we seek Him, we can put on His righteousness and partake of His healing and enabling strength. 

06 February 2015

Will Cable TV Change It's Name? and other stories about Marketing Fun.

An assignment for Marketing class.


While looking for three organizations that utilize effective marketing through technology initiatives, the first one that I found was the NCAA athletic department. This one surprised me, until I started thinking about it. With the entertainment industry being very competitive, brand improvement within collegiate sports sought for an improvement of the market share for their ‘products’ (Cooper, 2010). This makes sense, since college athletes have a complex structure with athletes being paid for endorsement being frowned upon, and other barriers to getting their name out there.  Increasing their market share would of course produce favorable results financially, but create added benefits of sustainability as well, with increased brand recognition (p. 23). 

Sports have always been entertaining, whether in person or on the television, but with the increase of technology, there came a division of consumer interests. This principle will catch our attention later, but some examples will propel our discussion further. No longer do sports overall, whether NCAA or most other sports, need to be seen to be enjoyed (Kaynak, Salman, & Tatoglu, 2008). With the advent of podcasts, blogs, fantasy sports, and social media sights, the brand of sports can be reflected in far greater detail than just on a sports channel like ESPN (Cooper, 2010). Sports media has infused itself within a great deal of entertainment venues as well as branding through independent technologies like athletic websites (p. 27). Thus, although the amount and degree of a variety of entertainment as arguably never been higher, some of the oldest forms of American entertainment, such as baseball, are given new light through embracing new advances in marketing through technology.

The second product and organization is the goReader. It would appear that eBooks started to really start making headway around 2001, along with other dot com ventures (Hawkins, 2002). Interestingly, even in 2002, there appeared to be a mixture of emotions regarding the future of eBooks and readers, especially based on the title of the article Electronic Books: Reports of Their Deaths Have Been Greatly Exaggerated. One of the main challenges that this product faced, seen particularly through the goReader, is that it was a uni-tasker. The goReader, specifically made for college textbooks to help alleviate the costs, still cost about $1,150 (Still cheaper than textbooks, but only for reading textbooks!).  The authors Muniz, Billingsley, and Brill (2002) give a comprehensive study of how the goReader was able to go about marketing a new technology. Hurdles to overcome included generating and managing demand, assessing all of the available needs of the consumer, working with publishers to add value without posing a threat, and other factors (p. 68). Thinking that technology was on their side, and seeing how book products have continuously been improved technology, through CD-ROM, Project Guttenberg, the Sony Electronic Book Player (boasting the ability to store 30 titles!) and eventually a Sony Bookman weighing close to two pounds and costing around $900.00. The eventual result was that “neither of these devices were successful. Consequently, Sony withdrew from the electronic publishing market (Muniz, Billingsley, & Brill, 2002). 

Eventually devices came out that would help with every day readings like the TV Guide (a must have, from that generation!). With demand increasing, prices decreasing, and major companies like Amazon and Barnes and Noble publishing eBooks (but no Kindle or Nook yet) the market was murky but moving. As companies like Adobe continued to improve PDF software, more authors publishing online versions of their texts, and textbook costs still being an issue, the goReader was ready to go (p. 68-70)! Competition would continue to be a factor, and they, as a product, continued to focus primarily on students and colleges. As newer technology came about, uni-tasking technology would start to dissipate. While they may not be known as a formidable opponent in today’s technological battle, the strategies they devised, the consumers they sought, and the struggle through competition is a great example of what it takes to immerse a new product into an unknown market.
Cable television will give us our third example. With the division of interests created by the aforementioned technology increases (Internet, tablets, handheld devices, and so forth), the amount of entertainment available only through one venue (TV) is staggering (see Sreenan & Van der Merwe, 2006).

If one wanted to watch a show about anything, odds are, someone’s making it. Is this phenomenon unexpected, or new? An almost prophetic author writes in 1973:

Surely the most portentous development on the immediate horizon is that of cable television, already an important factor on the media scene and with growth estimates that range between 20 and 60 per cent of the households by 1980. Regardless of what cable's growth rate actually turns out to be, it seems rather certain that before the end of the century most homes in the country will have a cable connection that will vastly expand the range of TV choices, lead to more programming specialization, and facilitate the already existing trend for television viewing to become an individual rather than a family affair. As viewing audiences become more selective, the economics of television will change for the advertiser (Bogart, 1973).

How accurate a picture did he depict? I especially wanted to recognize, besides the obvious remark that cable would be in almost every home, the ability of marketers being able to specialize their efforts at a remarkable rate because of this. Instead of marketing something that whole families, all presumably the same, would enjoy, marketers could now specialize to individuals, and lots of them. The companies, therefore, who can boast the most channels are not just a boon to the consumer, but to advertisers and marketers as well. If Comcast has xx number of channels, but Direct TV has xx + x channels, then marketers will naturally feel after the organization that boasts the most diverse consumer network.
While I normally tune out cable TV advertisements, I would think if one paid close attention, we could see why certain products are enhanced to be better than the competitor, and it may not always be to satisfy the consumer. Does anyone really want 5000 channels? Luckily the goReader can help us navigate through that monstrous TV guide, but other than that, it is really to reach the most diverse field of consumers possible. Cable TV is also becoming involved with higher technology by implementing applications in tablets software. Comcast’s XFinity is able to be watched on the go, with portable WiFi now, helping promote their brand even further. Now you don’t even need cable or a TV to watch Cable TV. I wonder what our friend Mr. Bogart would say about that?


I hope you enjoyed the read!

Bogart, L. (1973). As Media Change, How Will Advertising?. Journal Of Advertising Research, 13(5), 25-29.
Cooper, C. G. (2010). New Media Marketing: The Innovative Use of Technology in NCAA Athletic Department E-Branding Initiatives. Journal Of Marketing Development & Competitiveness, 5(1), 23-32.
Hawkins, D. T. (2002). Electronic Books: Reports of Their Deaths Have Been Greatly Exaggerated, Infotoday.com, retrieved online from http://www.infotoday.com/online/jul02/hawkins.htm
Kaynak, E., Salman, G. G., & Tatoglu, E. (2008). An integrative framework linking brand associations and brand loyalty in professional sports. Journal Of Brand Management, 15(5), 336-357.
Muniz Jr., A. M., Billingsley, W., & Brill, T. (2002). THE goREADER LAUNCH: DEVELOPING MARKETING STRATEGY FOR AN INNOVATIVE EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY. Journal Of Interactive Marketing (John Wiley & Sons), 16(1), 67-88.
Sreenan, C. J., & Van der Merwe, K. (2006). ENTERTAINMENT NETWORKING. Communications Of The ACM, 49(11), 30-33