Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Author known or unknown

Had an interesting question come to mind today. Have you ever read something you thought was written by someone you respect, look up to, and give total credibility to, and then later on realized that the author wasn't who you thought it was? And then you had to go back and rethink whether or not you want to support or rejection what was said based on now knowing who the actual author was?  Or you thought the author was irrelevant and therefore passed over something vital?

That reminded me today again about the importance of distinguishing truth from error not by who the author is, was, or what title they have but instead by The Spirit which attends the message.  Either the confirmation of truth or lack thereof.  Either the filling of our minds with understanding and intelligence or darkness not merely the speaker, or their title. Scriptures say truth will come out of the mouths of babes (Matthew 21:16)(3 Nephi 26:16). Hebrews says to be not forgetful to entertain strangers as some have entertained Angles unawares (Hebrews 13:2). It's easy to be hasty and attribute or withhold credibility based on non scriptural criteria.

Someone can easily misunderstand, or misquote anyone and come to incorrect conclusions if they relied on the personality behind a particular message rather than the Holy Ghost. I find this is different than the mindset I grew up learning in school and even church for that matter.  So I've admittedly make mistakes in this area.  Christ and His light and or Spirit is what scriptures teach we should use to discern (Moroni 7:15-19). I've noticed sometimes this doesn't happen in a glance. Sometimes it takes living it. The truth in Christ taught by Alma in The Book of Mormon was likened to a seed that had to be planted and experimented with. That one wasn't just a passing judgment call. A person had to try it out to see if the seed grew with life or remained stagnant. It requires more effort to learn this way but I think the reward is worth it.

Here is one example.  I've tried to look for truths as the passage suggests and it's grown with life.  The below thought was sparked from: Tuscano, Margaret and Paul "Strangers in Paradox: The Nature and Purpose of The Priesthood." Signature books Salt Lake City 1990. Chapter 13, 19th paragraph down

God bestows gifts, callings, and truth inside other cultures and people, among Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Native Americans, etc. We are taught the Lord is working in many parts of His vineyard, not just one. If we have the truth, true priesthood, in its fullness, this shouldn't be cause for arrogance or complacency. We ought to live what we have and be compassionate and humble enough to accept or even seek out any truth that God has given others, which includes truth more easily recognized or understood by diverse and distinct cultures or people. Perhaps we are better served by recognizing truths others have to contribute, than by presuming western, modern, or technological superiority.

To me that resonates with truth.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Elder Uchtdorf - "Can we See the Christ?"


I loved the message recently given by Elder Uchtdorf . The title was "Can we see the Christ?"

"One night a grandfather was reading a story to his four-year-old granddaughter when she looked up and said, “Grandpa, look at the stars!” The older man smiled kindly and said, “We’re indoors, honey. There are no stars here.” But the child insisted, “You have stars in your room! Look!”

The grandfather looked up and, to his surprise, noticed that the ceiling was peppered with a metallic glitter. It was invisible most of the time, but when the light struck the glitter a certain way, it did indeed look like a field of stars. It took the eyes of a child to see them, but there they were. And from that moment on, when the grandfather walked into this room and looked up, he could see what he had not been able to see before.
We are entering another wonderful Christmas season filled with music and lights, parties and presents. But of all people, we as members of the church that bears the Savior’s name need to look beyond the fa├žade of the season and see the sublime truth and beauty of this time of year.

I wonder how many in Bethlehem knew that right there, close to them, the Savior had been born? The Son of God, the long-awaited and promised Messiah—He was in their midst!
Do you remember what the angel told the shepherds? “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” And they said to themselves, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass” (Luke 2:11, 15).

Like the shepherds of old, we need to say in our hearts, “Let us see this thing which is come to pass.” We need to desire it in our hearts. Let us see the Holy One of Israel in the manger, in the temple, on the mount, and on the cross. Like the shepherds, let us glorify and praise God for these tidings of great joy!
Sometimes the most difficult things to see are those that have been right in front of us all along. Like the grandfather who failed to see the stars on the ceiling, we sometimes cannot see that which is in plain sight.
We who have heard the glorious message of the coming of the Son of God, we who have taken upon us His name and have covenanted to walk in His path as His disciples—we must not fail to open our hearts and minds and truly see Him.

The Christmas season is wonderful in many ways. It is a season of charitable acts of kindness and brotherly love. It is a season of being more reflective about our own lives and about the many blessings that are ours. It is a season of forgiving and being forgiven. It is a season to enjoy the music and lights, parties and presents. But the glitter of the season should never dim our sight and prevent us from truly seeing the Prince of Peace in His majesty.

Let us all make this year’s Christmas season a time of rejoicing and celebration, a time when we acknowledge the miracle that our Almighty God sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem the world!"  (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Can We See the Christ?", Liahona, Dec. 2010, 4–6)

The part that says "It took the eyes of a child to see them, but there they were." reminds me of primary. The past while I've been more involved with the primary at church and have found it very very enjoyable. The talk suggested we can and should see Christ. The scriptures confirm that we can see Him not only in symbols, but literally in reality. Scriptures do not say this is reserved for the afterlife, in fact they say it is available in this life, it comes in response to faith and is part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Replacements

In a church talk today someone quoted a scripture from 2 Nephi. It's chapter 32 vs 13.

It reads
" 13Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall afollow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no bhypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real cintent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are dwilling to take upon you the ename of Christ, by fbaptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the gbaptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the htongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel."

The speaker in the first line replaced "Son", with "the prophet". It then read: "I know that if ye shall follow the prophet, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy..."

I'm pretty sure Nephi didn't mess up when he wrote his words. He took the time to etch his words in metal plates using something like a chisel. I think we should read what it says since it took great effort for him to choose and record his words.

Replacing Christ with something or someone else to me is plain and very simply not good doctrine. My view of course.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mind boggling side effects

Saw a commercial today for a medication for gout. It talked about the causes and symptoms of gout and explained briefly about the uric acid in the joints. At the end of the commercial the disclaimer said that one of the most common side effects of the medication were gout flair ups.

Funny......Asinine, but funny.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Swaddling -


This post goes with the previous post on the inner wardrobe, they go together so read both.

"Swaddling. A very old and common practice among Near Eastern people was the swaddling of newborn babies. In many areas of the Near East this custom still prevails today, and is becoming popular again, and is recommended by modern pediatricians. According to this custom, mothers first bath their newborn infants, and then very gently rub a very small amount of salt which has been finely pulverized in a stone mortar for this great occasion. They also sprinkle their babies with a powder made of dried myrtle leaves. Eastern parents believe that putting salt on a babies body will make his or her flesh firm. This little ceremony also represented a symbolic testimony that the parents would raise the child to be true and faithful.

The swaddle is a square yard of cloth to which a parent attaches a long narrow band at one corner. Usually the mother wraps the infant in the swaddle with it's arms close to it's body and it's legs stretched out. Then she winds the narrow band around the body from shoulders to ankles. The infant looks like a tiny Egyptian mummy. People would swaddle their babies several times a day for at least 6 months believing that this would help their little bodies grow straight and firm. Again this is also a sign that the parents will teach the child to become honest straightforward and free from crookedness. In certain areas of the Near East to make a remark that a person may not have been salted at his birth is to arouse a great deal of trouble. Remember salt symbolically represents faithfulness, not to be salted or swaddles implies that the child was unwanted and its father unrecognized. We can see that this custom is very important and symbolically significant.

It would be only natural that Mary, the mother of Jesus, would salt and swaddle her newborn infant. Jesus was to be true to God and His word. His swaddling represented loyalty and faithfulness to his heavenly father as well as to his parents. Swaddling bands were frequently embroidered with symbols indicating family history and genealogy. According to ancient and modern custom, to be acceptable, the embroidery must be exactly the same on both sides; this was a type showing that the outer life and the inner life were the same, that they were never to have a wrong side to their character. "

(Nielsen, Donna "The Holy Child Jesus: Notes on the Nativity" Brigham Distributing 2007)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Inner Wardrobe

Colossians 3:12

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

This could be called the inner wardrobe. When I see this picture, I see sacred examples of living this scripture. When I think what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph preparing for the birth of Christ it brings me to a calm and quiet place. What truly beautiful people they must have been and surely still are.

Colossians reminds us what we should clothe ourselves in.

Compassion: Compassion extends love and mercy to one who is in need. God is compassionate. I wonder what kind of compassion Mary and Joseph had.

Kindness: Returning kindness in exchange for unkindness. A higher law. What and example Jesus truly was, no doubt he saw and learned from the example of his earthly parents.

Humility: Recognizing who is actually in charge and what matters most. Jesus was born of humble birth, He was a king, yet His birth was humble.

Gentleness: (also called meekness). Not weakness; but power under control. Blessing others through quiet strength, through love rather than force. I bet Mary and Joseph were good examples of this. Christ taught that the meek shall inherit the earth. Interesting that inner clothing as in this case can eventually lead to physical blessings.

On the outside things like cotton, polyester, wool, or various fabrics make up our clothes and can be important. We have specific clothes for specific occasions. They can create or enhance aspects of our appearance or have symbolic meaning. On the inside our character and traits and attributes make for an inner type of clothing. There was meaning in the swaddling clothing Mary wrapped Jesus in at his birth (see this post). Mary no doubt had on the right inner clothing as she wrapped her newborn Baby in His first piece of outer clothing. What a moment that must have been. Oh Night Divine.

Speaking of the outer and inner. President Benson taught that the world works from the outside in, but Christ and his teachings work from the inside out. More on this in the next post.

Colossians began by saying "therefore as Gods chosen people, holy, and dearly loved". Knowing who you are is important. Hand in hand with this is also knowing "Whose" you are. (3 Nephi 15:24) (1 Corinthians 7:23). Knowing "whose" we are, or can become can be extremely inspiring and uplifting. What we put on matters.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Looking Beyond



To quote Elder Uchtdorf from the Christmas Devotional. "If we look for what is wrong with the Christmas season we will surly find it." How true.

I think if we look for what is wrong in any context, with our world, our fellow man, and ourselves, we will surly find it. But if we look beyond that, we may see what really matters. One tool of the adversary is to purposely distort the truth. That's why it's important to get a good view. With the correct view we can discover truth which can truly change a heart, but distorted truth will not accomplish the same thing. When seen clearly, what was "wrong" with something or someone can be seen in the proper light. I'm sure people in my life have overlooked many a shortcoming in me. Certainly my parents friends and family have overlooked plenty through the years. I'm grateful for all who have looked beyond my errors and seen something better. Quite a few examples come to mind, my wife being one. Not sure how to thank such folks for how they've treated me other than to behave likewise towards them and others.

Quoting Elder Uchtdorf again "Like the Grinch, we can grumble and complain becoming cold and cynical about what we see around us. Nevertheless, if we look for the good, we can see this time of year (or in my view any time of year) with new eyes. Perhaps even with the eyes of a child. The Grinch saw the good in Christmas when he learned to look past it's worldly trappings. If we do the same, we can with the Grinch proclaim maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more. " -italics were my words.

I think we all get caught up in such trappings. Whether Christmas commercialism, or just everyday life, the news and the economic forecasts. It's so easy to get caught up in it, not just during a Christmas season. When trapped by it all, pretty soon we don't see much else. Hard to look past something when it's right in our face. And yet, there is plenty beyond the trappings to capture and enlighten our gaze. I refer to God, and his ongoing involvement in each persons life. That is a work worthy of our gaze. I'm so thankful to have learned of Gods nature, and oh how he must with great long suffering look beyond our humanness moment by moment. What a gift it is, to look beyond and with new light see what really mattered.

I had a question come to mind today. What if we were to look past? Look beyond the bad, ugly, problems, defects and endless troubles. Not pretending they don't exist, and therefore do nothing to improve ourselves or world, but settin gour gaze heavenward, and looking beyond. Maybe there is a higher reality going on behind the scenes if we can for a moment set aside our bias, our world view, let go of our self image, and our endless fears and concerns and other trappings. What lies beyond may forever impact how we "see" the present. Almost reminds me of a part in Disney's The Lion King when Rafiki the monkey asks Simba to look into the reflection in the pool of water. After Simba only sees the initial appearance the monkey says "Look... harder".

If the Grinch's heart can grow after a change of Christmas perspective imagine what ours can do. Christ is what Christmas is about. Christ wasn't just a historical figure with higher teachings who lived and died. He's the light of the world, and still is. He died and rose again. He is not still dead. He gives light to the world, and loves to a degree that will overwhelm any soul. He is our light. This is the reality behind the scenes. My view anyway.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A witness



Read something on the newly redesigned church website today Lds.org that perhaps is one of my favorite things I've ever read on there.

"Ancient Apostles of Christ testified of His divine nature and mission. Modern Apostles continue to bear witness that He lives. But their witness serves best when it motivates us to gain a witness for ourselves. We can know—just as His Apostles do—that He lives"

That third sentience is something I don't hear often. Glad it was there. I think it should be front page material, fundamental to the role of an Apostle. The little video that went along with the topic I thought showed honest and sincere testimonies from the Leaders. Those testimonies combined with the above quote I think is a message worthy of study.  Such experiences are not just for leaders.  They may be in a position to lead, but that is no limit on each individual finding God for themselves.

The website also has a little drop down menu for requesting a copy of your Patriarchal Blessing, its simple. The site also now has study tools online. I'm not one that likes to write on the pages of my scriptures. I like to just leave the text as it is and keep notes elsewhere for reading or study. That way when I read a verse again it's fresh, and my mind can be clear and open to new things rather than seeing marks or other notes about previous thoughts or connections I had made. So I'm a fan of the online study tools.

Cheers for the updated church website.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We have done many wonderful works

3 Nephi 14: 22-23: says

"Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

It says "many" will say these things to the Lord at that day (judgment day).

A friend Denver posed these questions in regard to this scripture:

Who will claim to have "prophesied in [His] name?"
Who will claim to have "cast out devils in [His] name?
Who will claim to have done "many wonderful works" in His name?

Interesting questions....who will claim that kind of thing? Will I? Will you? Why would someone need to claim that? How does someone both do these works in Christ name and yet have Christ profess to not know them? It must have been lip service, a show to get attention, gather a following or praise of men, yet lacking in a fundamental element. A relationship.

I notice a difference in how Christ refers to works and his ministry and how those "many" refer to prophesying and casting out devils and doing wonderful works. It struck me that the "many" get stuck on themselves. They draw attention to themselves saying: Have WE not prophesied?...have WE not cast out devils?, have WE not done many wonderful works? As if trying to set the record straight that THEY did all these wonderful things and therefore deserve something in return. Their wording shows they saw themselves as the ones initiating these wonderful works although the 'we' was not said directly each time.

On the other hand here is one of Christ's examples during his ministry that to me sheds light on this. John chapter 14 vs 10-11. “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

Christ pointed to His Father and the harmony in their relationship. The "many" seem to have spoken Christs name with the lips yet had a heart far from him (Matthew 15:8). The heart is what matters. There was no relationship. It appears "wonderful works" can be accomplished but not in a way that is approved of by Christ. This is a very interesting glimpse into the day of judgment. Seems Christ is giving us hints about the future and how to have the judgment day be a joyous one, instead of one full of regret.

More from John 14
vs 13-14 “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

I conclude therefore we should seek, ask, and knock and come to know God. We are invited to have that relationship. We are invited to prepare now for the day of judgment, there needn't be any surprises. Better to find out if your inadvertently "working iniquity" while the day lasts.  And instead accept the privilege and honor of worshiping and serving the true and living God.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who's on the Lord's side

(Ex. 32 is a chapter where the children of Israel are up to no good.  Aaron says they tend to get into mischief.  It says at one point that Moses's anger waxed hot. A few verses down he asks the big question. "Who is on the Lord's side?" Those who were, were asked to gather themselves (vs 26).

I like how Moses asked "who's on the Lords side?", and didn't ask who was on his side. At a crucial moment it kept the focus on the Lord, and not on himself. To me a sign of a true messenger.

But what a stinging question he asked applicable to everyone at any moment since we have all been warned there is idolatry and mischief in our own day.

The Lord says "Come unto me".  We have been invited to be on the Lord's side and gather ourselves around Him. Hopefully we hear and respond to it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

All are Welcome

The following quote I found enlightening. It's part of a much bigger discussion of coming to Christ, so that is what he refers to by saying that all are welcome.

 "All of you are welcome, whatever circumstances you find yourself in here in mortality. Your circumstances are His gift to you, because they are uniquely fitted to refine you so you can return to Him. Don't reject them as distractions, but use them to propel yourself upward. Gravity is at first the enemy of the infant, but soon becomes the play-thing by which all children learn to run. The faster they recover from the forward fall, the faster they run. Learn from your life's specific gravity to run back to Him. Be grateful for your lot in life. It was carefully given to you for your blessing and development." (The Second Comforter)

Related to this is something I learned from the book of Hebrews (click on the link, Heb. 12: 5-6, 11-12). "Whom the Lord loves, he chastens." Sometimes when such things happen, when life brings hardship or great difficulty or God see's fit for something we wonder if God really loves us. Maybe he doesn't really care we may wonder to ourselves. The opposite is actually true. When God chastens it's actually a sign that he does love, it's a sign of many good things. According to Hebrews vs 6 it's a sign that your part of the family, a son. Verse 11 says "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." So although the Lord's dealings can be very challenging, it's temporary, and it results in peace, the peaceable fruits of righteousness. I believe that's the true perspective to keep.

It could be said there are 3 main types of chastening from the Lord. Following God brings plenty of all three, which again, is a very good thing.

Corrective. When the Lord corrects you, shows you an error, or problem that needs to be addressed. Maybe he starts reworking your foundation, your internal life, it can be searing to the soul. This is truly a blessing when considering the outcome it has. With that view it's hard to question the Lords love in what he does.

Preventative. When God orchestrates events and situations of your life that in fact are designed to prevent a catastrophe later on. There are coming collisions, there is a day of judgment, there are critical things going on in eternity. If life deals us a situation we don't like, circumstances are far less than ideal... it may be wise to ponder in your heart how the Lord often does preventative work with us. Sometimes our circumstances in fact prevent far worse things from happening down the road. This is very loving.

Teaching. The third main type of chastening could be categorized as teaching. The Lord teaches us by our experiences (D&C 122: 7). One of the main purposes of life was to learn by our own experience to distinguish the good from the bad. The Lord teaches us by what we pass through (Rom. 5: 3-4). Some experiences help us have compassion for others, some experiences help us understand eternal truths, others work patience and wisdom. How important are wisdom and patience? I think consequences are a great teacher, it's how the universe works. We certainly can't blame God for not being loving when we make a series of poor choices and then don't like the consequences. Thankfully God is patient.

The Lord indeed loves as a perfect Father. There is no mistake in what He lovingly does, and no mistaking that it is loving. Verse 12 from the above Hebrews scripture: "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees" What once were hands hung in defeat, are hands lifted in praise and worship, able to give. Feeble knees become firm knees, kneeling before He who is Holiness.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Seperation from the Love of God



Rom. 8: 38-39 says: "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

God holds onto us. Sometimes its hard to "realize" that unless or until you've let go.

He holds us first, which allows us to hold on to Him. “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” He promised.

Necessary preparation


D&C 38:30 says among other things "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear"

Alma in the book of Mormon in Alma 5 addresses a group of church members and he tells them they are not prepared to meet God unless they have undergone various changes. Examples are "being stripped of pride and envy" (Alma 5: 29) "being spiritually born of God" (Alma 5: 14), a mighty change of heart etc.. He informs them that meeting God is not going to be an enjoyable experience unless they wake up and remember the Word of God and prepare. That is a bit of a frightening statement. But it can also be extremely helpful.

A funny quote I heard the other day went like this. "When getting a job these days it's not what you know but who you know." He then went on to say "Something similar applies to getting to heaven, it's not what you know, it's WHO you know". His obvious reference was Christ. Thought his way of phrasing that was interesting.  Knowing facts about Christ is different from knowing Him. One is personal, the other can be just lifeless trivia.

Temporal preparation is great, but it gets almost all the focus.  Alma redirects our focus, and the type of preparation important to our eternal welfare towards spiritual things.  We should all heed modern council to have financial reserves for rainy days, food storage, minimal debt, etc....  however there is also a day of judgment awaiting all of us.

Spiritual preparation often goes unmentioned when talking about preparation in our day.  Food storage and the like will not be all that helpful during that evaluation. I just saw a news clip of a flight instructor and student down in Payson Utah who for whatever reason were involved in a plane crash killing both. They get to face the day of judgment before the day when their temporal preparation would have been helpful. The families will no doubt be grateful if there have previously been financial preparations made.  However what matters for their soul, is not their food storage.  My heart goes out to them. For the two who passed, their second estate, the day to prepare to meet God just ended. "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear"  is the often quoted scripture on preparation.  Implicit in that is that the absence of fear is related to what you are prepared for. Are you prepared to survive an earthquake? Or to survive the day of judgment? Hopefully both.

My point is how short and precious is life? It can be very short, or long, we don't know. There is no substitute for matters of the soul and preparation.

The spiritual companions to temporal preparation are probably very personal, these are just ideas intended to compliment aspects of temporal preparation.

Am I out of debt?
Am I out of Spiritual Debt? Do I know God or just know facts.... and trust in other's for my assurance? Do I have a burning testimony of Jesus Christ and faith in the Atonement and it's reality with regard to my own soul and sins. Or was the last time I thought about it because I was at church.

Do I own my home?
Do I possess charity? Do I gather light and intelligence from the scriptures all that often? To quote Alma, "have I spiritually been born of God"? Do I rely on the scriptures at all for guidance?

Do I have a year supply of food (and where possible, fuel)?
Do I have oil in my lamp? 5 foolish virgins in Christs parable had on the wedding "garment" yet no oil in their lamps and were unrecognized by the Master. (strongly connecting to "being recognized" is having received Christ's image in your countenance Alma 5: 14 )
Question is, what is the average oil (symbolic of the Holy Spirit) level in my lamp?

Do I have an emergency fund (at least a few months' worth)?
Do I notice fruits of the Spirit in my personal life? Do I know what Spiritual gift(s) are the ones God gave me? Is it largely dormant, or active and developing?

To the extent possible, am Self sufficient?
Do I have a personal relationship with the divine? What are the predominant thoughts and intents of my heart dwelling upon? Christ said many people "draw near to me with their lips, but hearts are far from me". Lord, is it I?

I hope this has been worth reading. No use having food storage, and financial reserves only to arrive at the place appointed after death confused and not quite prepared, wishing more had been done with the time allotted on earth. I personally think these thoughts are worthwhile things to think about during those quiet moments when it's not necessary to be focused on the temporal affairs.

We bottle or can foods and fruits to "seal" them and preserve them for times of need. The sealing power of God also is intended to preserve a soul, such things are good preparation come the day of reckoning.

We should do as Alma councils, seek the Lord now while his arms of mercy are extended towards us. What good prophetic council. (Alma 5: 33)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Consciousness


I heard once that our minds must align with Faith. Faith leads, consciousness follows.

As an EMT I often dealt with various levels of consciousness, people who were unconscious, or had what we call an "altered" state of consciousness. Drugs and alcohol often lead to these altered states.

If consciousness can go one way, like passing out, it makes sense it can also go the other way. Raise to an increased state of consciousness of yourself, things, people and your surroundings. Maybe temporary, maybe slowly growing, who knows.

The scriptures speak of becoming conscious of something. Alma 14: 6 "And it came to pass that Zeezrom was astonished at the words which had been spoken; and he also knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused among the people by his lying words; and his soul began to be harrowed up under a consciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell."
People in the scriptures are said to become conscious of their own guilt. Previously they were oblivious to it, but under this new state of consciousness they suddenly see the value of repentance and are often moved to seek God in profound and personal ways. They change in orientation and begin to live in ways that serve, teach and love their fellow man.

I find that super interesting.

Joseph Smith once said: "
“We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment.”9

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What is the real issue?


This scripture has something classic, and is very interesting. (Mosiah 17: 7-9) Wicked King Noah has just been prophesied about by prophet Abinadi. The king is upset at hearing that he is wicked and that he will be destroyed unless he repents. Here is what the King says starting in verse 7: (I think there is truth that when we point a finger at others there are three more pointing back at ourselves)

7 And he said unto him: Abinadi, we have found an accusation against thee, and thou art worthy of death. 8 For thou hast said that aGod himself should come down among the children of men; and now, for this cause thou shalt be put to death unless thou wilt recall all the words which thou hast spoken evil concerning me and my people.  9 Now Abinadi said unto him: I say unto you, I will anot recall the words which I have spoken unto you concerning this people, for they are true; and that ye may know of their surety I have suffered myself that I have fallen into your hands.

Notice how the accusation was about God himself coming down among the children of men, this was why Abinadi was apparently worthy of death. These are religious, doctrinal reasons for accusing Abanidi, somehow this offended them deeply.  Yet, the reason Abinadi would be let off the hook is if he would "recall all the words thou has spoken evil concerning ME and MY PEOPLE".   The alleged accusation dealing with false doctrine, and the way to get out from under the penalty of that accusation are not even the same subject. Did you catch that?  One dealt with God, and doctrine, the other deals with retracting statements about the King and his people being evil. They would forget all about the God coming down stuff, and let him go if only Abinadi would retract the part about the King and His people being evil. A bit of a disconnect there if you ask me.  An interesting loophole.  Abanidi wasn't phased. He taught true doctrine, and refused to retract the truth he had spoken about the King and his people.    

If Abanidi was worthy of death for saying God would come down, you'd think retracting that statement would then free him of the accusation.  But it didn't.  The real issue, as the priests and king saw it, was the personal attack they felt.  Goes to show that it's foolish to act when angry, and how important it is what folks you choose as your advisers. His anger blinded him and he was lead astray by those advisers he trusted in.  They initially accused him of preaching false doctrine, but the real issue was he offended them.  They would use all sorts of backwards logic to condemn him.  Because they were offended.  It didn't matter that what he said was true, they wanted him dead because he offended them and made them look bad.

Abinadi was such a great type of Christ. He was accused, maltreated and sent back to God by the people he was trying to save, in reality he was innocent and indeed sent from God. Abinadi was very much a type of Christ.

On a side note related to where fingers point, notice how when you ask for something, and then go to receive it with your hand, like with slightly cupped hand and upward facing palm that all of your fingers are pointing upwards (truly from above is where we receive) and the thumb is towards the giver. Very different than an accusers finger placement.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

An interesting question

If a man is authorized to speak for God, like the Prophet, does that mean that God must then keep quiet?

Is there such a thing as a prophet outside of the church organization? What about a prophetess?
There were lots of those in the scriptures. Prophecy is a gift of the Spirit, everyone is counseled to seek after the gifts of the Spirit. Not everyone is called to preside over the church, and no one is called to disrupt the hierarchy but everyone is called to draw near unto God.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Not the same. And it was just Joseph.

Wanted to cover a few common D&C verses that are frequently taken out of context and misused to teach something the verses themselves do not teach. If this sounds like just my opinion keep reading.  I think by the end you'll see that the context of the actual scripture cannot be removed without altering the meaning of the verses completely.

First is Doctrine and covenants 1:38. ".... whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

That verse is typically used just as I have used it above.  Without context and using "....".  The verse is short enough to not merit "...." but the dot dot dot ellipsis is used so frequently I had to investigate.  Turns out this is a pattern of omitting half the verse, it's really common.  It causes the verse to seemingly saying something which is not supported by the scripture itself.  I'd watch out for this.

Here's a bit more context
36-38 And also the Lord shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst, and shall come down in judgment upon Idumea, or the world. Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled. What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.
The only portion typically quoted in Sunday School or even General Conference is the last part. ".... whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

What's the message you get when that is the only part of the verse you are given?  The message comes across that we have no reason to doubt anything a leader of the Church says because it’s the same as if the Lord Himself had said it, right?  Tuns out our high school English teachers were right.  Context really does matter.  And when we misquote people or manipulate source material for some other agenda we risk doing damage to both parties.  It's not a good idea.  Seems it would be even more important to keep this in mind in matters of God's word.  Perhaps we should be double careful when we use scripture to teach something.
 
When you look at the entire context of that verse we learn that this tiny phrase is actually just a small part of a whole idea. That idea is a continuation of the preceding verse, and as you can read above is basically stating that the Lord has given us many prophecies and they will all be fulfilled. The Lord will not make excuses for seemingly unfulfilled prophecies or things He has said. They shall all be fulfilled. Even though the heavens and the earth, which are practically eternal in comparison to human lifespans, will pass away, His Word will never pass away. All His word will be fulfilled. Not all man's words, or all man's philosophies or all the false and vain things said in the name of Jesus Christ. Those are not promised to be fulfilled. The only thing promised to be fulfilled are His words, His promises, and prophecies He gives.   

Then comes the familiar part where The Lord says whether that fulfillment comes by His own voice or by the voice of His servants, "it" is considered the same. The fulfillment can be counted on.  Regardless of who the players are.  Even enemies of God sometimes unknowingly fulfill Gods prophecies. But lets delve even more into the word "it" as it's used here.  What is "it" referring to when it says "it is the same"?  The object of "It" has to have reference to the previous part of the verse "What I the Lord have spoken". Whether He speaks it Himself or He authorizes someone else to speak it, "it" can be viewed as the same. But if He didn't speak it, nor authorize it, and if the message is not in aliment with Him then it's clearly not the same. We have to discern if what we hear is from God or not.  Because one will be fulfilled, the other has no promise.  Discernment is not a matter of finding out what the persons Church title is, and then believing whatever they say the higher their calling.  That's not discernment.

What this verse being discussed is not saying is that a person's Church office or calling automatically makes their words the same as if God spoke. That's backwards. If the words spoken are not in aliment with God's words how can we claim "it" is the same as if God spoke? No one can can just make stuff up, or pontificate, or share their own ideas and opinions and philosophies then claim it is the same as if God said it. And therefore it will be fulfilled. Nope. That's a little ridiculous when you think about it. That would amount to God being obligated to honor man's words simply because the man held a religious position of authority. That's making God obey man.

Whatever someone holding a Church office says obviously does not bind God into ownership of whatever that person says. The source and content of the message is what matters, not the speaker.  Whether or not you got warm fuzzies.  This hopefully has helped clarify these verses.  It's not difficult to understand once you look at the context.  Joseph Smith remarked that a Prophet is only a Prophet when acting as such. (TPJS pg 278).  Everyone has the freedom to think and act for themselves. Our duty is to discern when God's Spirit accompanies a message.

Another example of a verse used to communicate that whatever someone says is scripture:

D&C 68: 2-4 And, behold, and lo, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood, whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth— 3 And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. 4 And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.
This verse says: And whatsoever "they" shall speak....shall be scripture.  So there are some limits.  Who is "they"?  The chapter heading also identifies some specific Elders.  It's also those who are ordained unto "this" Priesthood.  So what Priesthood is that?  Aaronic?  Melchizedek?  Is it an ordination by man?  Can one man (who was only ordained by other men) ordain another man to speak for the Lord and reveal the mind of the Lord?  Is it the kind of priesthood that only comes from God?  Does it not matter as long as the Holy Ghost moves the speaker?

The other limit stated in the verse are those who have a mission appointed unto them to go forth.

Another limit stated in the verse is "as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost".  The priesthood office alone in the LDS church doesn't confer this ability to speak the mind and will of God.  Despite some traditions stating it does.  The condition is "as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost".  The Holy Ghost as we know bares record of the Father and Son.  It's the instrumentality through which God works.  So rather than someone sharing their own opinions, their own ideas, or own philosophies, this limitation to me seems to clearly limit the "scripture" to only things coming from the Holy Ghost. Not the man. Seems like common sense that God isn't obligated to own words and messages a man speaks that God never gave, never endorsed and never vouched for.  As 2 Peter says: For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Here's another verse that is often used out of context, and manipulated to say something different than what the text actually says.
D&C 21:4-5 " Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
I'm surprised the English teachers of the word don't notice this one being blatantly removed from it's historical context, which is right there in the heading.  That verse is used consistently in general conference as support for why the members should look to the (Current) President of the LDS church and what he says as if from God's mouth.  See example from General Conference here.  Yet, if you read the verse in context it's unmistakably clear and unmistakably NOT saying what many speakers, top leaders, as well as manuals have used the verse to teach.   

Here's the verse in context.  The revelation heading is important. It reads: Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Fayette, New York, April 6, 1830.  This revelation is to Joseph Smith.  As the first few verses indicate. This is a revelation to Joseph, about Joseph.  That's why the first few verses use "he" and "his" in the singular.  (parenthesis below are mine).  Because it's about Joseph.  Which is obvious if you don't take the 1 verse out of context.

The revelation reads: Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou (Joseph) shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ,  Being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith. Which church was organized and established in the year of your Lord eighteen hundred and thirty, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April. Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his (Joseph's) words and commandments which he (Joseph) shall give unto you as he (Joseph) receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his (Joseph's) word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

The revelation is referring specifically to Joseph Smith who's message God vouches for. There is no justification for taking the verse, divorcing it from Joseph Smith, and applying it to any subsequent leader of the Church.  Where in the verses is any such license given?  In what industry or arena is it ok to take what applied to 1 individual, and making it apply to someone else?  Plagiarizing off someone else long since passed away as evidence that what another person now say is as if God was speaking seems quite troubling.  This type of thing wouldn't be tolerated in even the political sphere.  Yet it's passed by in the religious sphere in matters of God speaking to man.  That misuse and out of context utilization of those scriptures would seemingly concern people but it doesn't.

What's also of note here is how important God things Joseph Smith's words are. The LDS church drifts or discards what Joseph Smith taught more each year.  Many topics taught by Joseph are never taught or mentioned.  Just look at the manuals and seminary and institute manuals.  In place of Joseph's Teachings are more and more conference talks. Because as you saw last post, a living prophet is more important than a dead one.  God vouched for Joseph.  I have not heard God vouch for subsequent Church leader's words.  So if nothing else, we should appreciate, value what Joseph taught.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

14 fundamentals of following who?

President J. Reuben Clark taught: "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed" (Quinn, The Church Years, p 24.) 

Many of the revelations that were given to Joseph Smith, and which we’ve preserved in the Doctrine and Covenants, were specific to him or to another person or group of people. We’ve taken a lot of liberty in applying many of those scriptures to those who lead the church today.

Examples of this can be found in a talk that was given in 1980 by Ezra Taft Benson (found here), and repeated again twice in General Conference in 2010. In that talk he used many scriptures to teach principles about the president of the Church that were revelations speaking specifically about Joseph Smith. Though it is possible the Lord had every successive generation and its leaders in mind when the revelations were given, that is not indicated by the scriptures themselves.

The 14 fundamentals are listed below. Christ's most basic teachings are to simply to "follow Him".  "Come, Follow Me".  Is his call to everyone.

When we redirect his teachings and turn that into following his servants, I don't think that improves his message and in many instances it distracts from it.  It's still Him we should follow.  I think it's ok to pay attention to what we are taught from the pulpit.  It's ok to wonder if what we are being taught is correct.  In fact we should.  No one is perfect.  We are to trust the Spirit only, not a pulpit, and a title.

I think the Lord's church has been seen up with the President of the Church being the only one who receives revelation for the entire church.  But that doesn't not mean he is the only one that is invited and can speak with God.  Everyone is invited to speak with God.  We are also called to sustain, support, and pray for our leaders.  What is not in the scriptures is for us to elevate the Lord's servants until they almost become celebrities, with the President being so elevated and infallible that he becomes almost an object of worship.

The following list is from the conference talks.  It's up to us to decide if these kinds of teachings point us towards the Lord, or to men.  His true servants point to Him, not to each other.  When we hear the Lord's voice in the voice of His servants we should follow.  However we are the ones who need to discern those moments from all other moments.

Read these and decide for yourself if we have been lead astray by the precepts of men.

First fundamental. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything” 

Second Fundamental. “The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works”  

Third Fundamental. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

Fourth Fundamental. The prophet will never lead the Church astray”

Fifth Fundamental. “The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time” 

Sixth Fundamental. The prophet does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture. …

Seventh Fundamental. The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know

Eighth Fundamental. The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning. …

Ninth Fundamental. The prophet can receive revelation on any matter—temporal or spiritual. …

Tenth Fundamental. The prophet may be involved in civic matters. …

Eleventh Fundamental. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich. …

Twelfth fundamental. The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly. …

Thirteenth fundamental. The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency—the highest quorum in the Church. …

Fourteenth Fundamental. The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the first presidency—follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer” 

Discernment



In the scriptures body parts often have symbolic meaning which helps us expand our understanding. One that sticks out to me is the nose. It’s a body part symbolic of discernment. 

We use our noses to smell the world around us and interpret what we smell, it adds to our overall experience of what to consume and what qualities things have. Dogs are known for having a good sense of smell.  They find hidden mischief with their keen sense where we may not look. The legend goes: "Dogs can sense fear". They are also known to be able to detect various diseases, bombs, drugs, and in many cases people who intend to cause others harm. 

 Humans in different ways use our smell to measure if our food is bad, IE the half empty almost expired milk jug, or we use it to simply enjoy and heighten our experience, or maybe even use it to prevent us from consuming something that has gone bad and will be harmful to our body. Since physical things testify of spiritual things I find the idea of discerning and the nose very fascinating.

Connected to this is the idea that truth tastes good, I've found it fills me in a similar way that a good food does. Alma in Chapter 32 of the Book of Mormon talks about planting a seed. This seed if treated properly becomes a baby tree of life and then matures to become a full tree complete with fruit that is precious above all. He talks about this process in terms of light, enlightenment, and truth, and how it “tastes” good, he uses words like "delicious" which also relate to taste. Nephi (1 Ne. 8: 11, 28) as well as Mormon (Morm. 1: 15) say similar things.

As we know taste is closely tied to smell. Have you ever been sick, lost your sense of smell with a stuffy nose or whatever and food just didn’t taste at all? Anyone had that experience? So we’ve all experienced a decrease in taste when our nose isn’t working right. Smell is a way to discern as well as taste. Well getting to the point, I think the good taste to truth has an important element of smell. Which means things that are not true, things there a false, have falsehoods in them or are slightly or very misleading can be detected by discernment. To discern something would be to sniff out something dead because that is where false things tend to lead, they end up dead. It's to detect the wolf in sheep's clothing. Wherever such a thing might occur. Christ in both the book of Mormon as well as the New Testament informs us that such a test is going to face all of us. (3 Ne. 14: 15, Matt. 7: 15) False or mingled teachings wherever they are found don’t save. So discernment is important as ever in everything we take in from any source.