Friday, April 29, 2011

Pray always

Luke 21:36: "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."

The Quaker Thomas Kelly, in his Testament of Devotion wrote, “There is a way of ordering our mental lives on more than one level at once. On one level we can be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, and meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship, and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings.”
We can be about our business, working, cleaning house, running errands, tending to family, taking care of all the “external affairs.” And at the same time, we can be speaking to God, asking Him to bless the people around us, yielding decisions and actions to Him as we ask for His will to be done.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Doctrine


President Ezra Taft Benson once said:

“Not only are there apostates in our midst, but there are apostate doctrines which are sometimes taught in our classes and from our pulpits and which appear in our publications. The these apostate precepts of men cause our people to stumble. As the Book of Mormon, speaking of our day, states: “..they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men” (2
Nephi 28:14).” (Pres. Ezra T. Benson, CR April 1969 )

Not too many years prior to President Benson’s statement, President Joseph Fielding Smith had entered the following notation in his person diary:

I attended sessions of meetings for the institute teachers, held in the assembly room on the fourth floor of the Church Office Building. I cannot say that I was very greatly edified. Too much philosophy of the worldly nature does not seem to mix well with the fundamentals of the gospel. In my opinion many of our teachers employed in the church school system have absorbed too much of the paganism of the world, and have accepted too readily the views of the uninspired educators without regard for the revealed word of the Lord. What to do about it, I do not know. It is a problem for the Presidency to consider. It is a very apparent fact that we have traveled far and wide in the past 20 years. What the future will bring I don’t know. But if we drift as far afield from the fundamental things in the next 20 years, what will be left of the foundation laid by the Prophet Joseph Smith? It is easy for one who observes to see how the apostasy came about in the primitive church of  Jesus Christ. Are we not traveling the same road?” (The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith p
212. Deseret Book Co., 1972 )

You don't hear things like this very often, which makes me wonder if ether the problem has been eradicated.... or if instead we're numb to the problem and in serious trouble. Both those statements were made decades ago. I rarely hear ANY talk of such things now even to the point it would meet with heavy resistance from some. Despite that, i think those warning are just as timely now, perhaps more so.

Go check out Deseret book, there are almost almost no doctrinal books about the Gospel are being sold.  Deseret book has publicly stated "Doctrine doesn't sell".

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stir them up to anger


Scriptures often refer to Satan "stiring people up to anger" or the adversary will "rage in the hearts of men in the last days". I heard today of a "national day of rage" scheduled by another culture's people who clearly are very mad. Anger, can be used as a tool to cheat and manipulate a person.  Used in such a way leaves everyone closed off, instead of open. Judgmental instead of seeking to understand and learn.

I wondered today what it is about anger that is so "effective" as an adversarial tool. When someone is angry they absolutely will not consider another point of view than their own. They almost always refuse to learn in that emotional state as well. It shuts down discussion, and often just damages everything in it's path. 

Scriptures teach that pride is usually one of, if not the main root problem.  Insecurity is another.  When we are insecure about something, or our beliefs, we tend to react with anger.  We can hack at the leaves of behavior and circumstance, but the roots are what often fuel it. I wonder at the absolutely SHOCKING revelation that may in fact occur after earth life is over and we look back at just how badly pride poisons almost every area of life. I'm thankful for a God who's love is greater than our/my pride, a God who organizes events in life to help us leave such poisons behind.

I used to not recognize things in my self as what the scriptures were talking about. The scriptures became very personal, with lots of tough love when I saw that they were addressing me. Anger, fear and pride always blind us to truth that could make a huge difference in our lives. Being blind produces no joy. Whereas having the "scales of darkness" fall from ones eyes is something so good, words fail to communicate it. It's a fools bargain to not willingly participate in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I will advocate the Gospel as long as I'm able. I need the Gospel. We all do. Odds are if a person were to imagine or picture what pride is, or blindness, the mental image would almost never be of themselves. Least it's human nature to see it in "them". Some anger is visible, some is not. Anger towards self isn't that visible but is destructive none the less.

While wondering about the above comments these other thoughts came. I think lots of times people just have emotional patterns or habits that are unhelpful. Just like habits of behavior or habits of thought, people have patterns of emotions and tend to deal with similar events in similar ways. That's part of what makes up our personality. As I recall from many sources it's widely held that a person's personality is fairly intact and developed by age 4. I think by age 21 a person's decisions are fairly well established as well. The trend and type of decisions get in a groove and don't tend to vary a great deal from the patterns. 

Lots of patterns are inherited from parents, who got them from their parents and from their parents etc. Often someone will come along in a family line and recognize these various traits. They work to undo less helpful emotional or mental patterns, and instead awake, come to, and find the truth from living Christ's teachings that are freeing. It's far from some boring repetitive tradition that has no power. It's alive. Anyone can choose to do this, I think such actions would fit well into the category of what the scriptures call repentance. It sets us free. 

Now is the great day of anger. But our participation isn't required. A beautiful line from my friend Denver sums up this thought: "Be slow to anger, quick to forgive; open and prayerful. The great plan to cheat your soul will not succeed with you if you remain humble and open."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hope rises with the sun


Easter Sunrise from atop Snowbird Ski Resort. Hope rises with the sun. Darkness gives way to light and life through the symbol of the sun. Christ overcame death and rose the third day. The heavens declare His glory and His truth.

(First Photograph by David Christensen)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Outward appearances

Kelsey and I were talking yesterday about how society responds to beauty. Psychology studies show that kids respond better to more physically attractive teachers, the physically attractive are often attributed higher intelligence, and many times are more favored in the job market. Society rewards, seeks, and places much on physical beauty. Beauty sells. Anyone will notice how even animals who are cute will get far different treatment than those who are less "cute". It's a little sad just how much changes depending on physical appeal or lack of.

Look at almost any Hollywood action video.  How many hundreds of "security guards" or cops, or bystanders, or "bad" guys or girls get killed to protect the one pretty girl.  But only if she's very physically attractive.  It's as if the more beautiful the woman in the movie, the more normal and accepted it is to dispose of all other forms of life that get in the way.      

It's so easy to focus on what is immediately visible. The outward appearance. My mind drifted to this scripture and I thought it was very interesting in it's descriptions of Christ's beauty.

Isaiah 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

No beauty that we should desire him...... I don't know whether it refers to a physical lack of symmetry or other things the human mind finds attractive, or whether it more refers to lack of credentials or not "looking or acting the part" how people wanted him to, or both.

Here are some historical descriptions I found interesting after thinking about Isaiah's words. These were organized by Donna Nielsen.

"The first source of evidence comes from The Archko Volume (or the Archaeological Writings of the Sanheidrim & Talmuds of the Judeans). These are the Official Documents made in These Courts in the days of Jesus Christ; translated by Drs. McIntosh and Twyman in 1887 of the Antiquarian Lodge, Genoa, Italy, From Manuscripts in Constantinople and the Records of the Senatorial Docket taken from the Vatican in Rome; Published by Keats Publishing (1975).

Chapter V - Gamaliel - Interview With Joseph And Mary And Others Concerning Jesus; The hagiographa or holy writings, found in the St. Sophia Mosque at Constantinople, made by Gamaliel, in the Talmuds of the Jews, 27 B.C.

It seems Gamaliel was sent by the Sanhedrin to interrogate Joseph and Mary in regard to this child Jesus. Gamaliel is recorded as reporting:

I found Joseph and Mary in the land of Mecca. ...Joseph is a wood-workman. He is very tall. His hair looks as though it might have been dark auburn when young. His eyes are grey, Jesus, He is the picture of his mother, only He has not her smooth, round face. His hair is a little more golden than hers, though it is as much from sunburn as anything else. He is tall. His visage is thin and of a swarthy complexion, though this is from exposure. His eyes are large and soft blue, the lashes are long and his eyebrows are large."

This is found in a letter written to the monarch of Rome by Publius Lentrelus who was a resident of Judea in the days of Tiberius Caesar. This letter first appeared in the writings of Saint Anselm of Canterbury in the eleventh century A.D.

There lives at this time in Judea a man of singular virtue whose name is Jesus Christ... his followers love and adore him as the offspring of the Immortal God. He calls back the dead from the graves and heals all sorts of diseases with a word, or a touch. He is a tall man, well-shaped, and of an amiable and reverend aspect; his hair of a color that can barely be matched, falling into graceful curls, waving about and very agreeable.... His forehead high, large and imposing, his cheeks without spot or wrinkle, beautiful with a lovely red; his nose and mouth formed with exquisite symmetry; his beard and of a color suitable to his hair...his eyes bright and blue, clear and serene. Look innocent, dignified, manly, and mature; his arms and hands delectable to behold."

(Taken from page 75, Appendix B of The Resurrection Tomb, by E. Raymond Capt.)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Elder Packer's talk

Elder Packer said something during Saturday Conference that I thought especially appropriate.

He said members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are counseled not to call themselves "Mormons" or refer to " The Mormon church" because that would go against Christ's teachings about specifically not calling His church by the name of a man. The scripture he quoted says if a church was called in Moses's name it would be Moses's church. Elder Packer read that scripture from 3 Nephi 27. So members of the church should use the actual name of the church which does contain Christs name. Elder Packer differentiated between someone else calling someone by a title, vs that person calling them self by that name/title.

I've found this topic very important for a long time and have written posts about the topic before. I'm happy today to have heard a member of the Quorum of the 12 speak on the subject.

I wonder if both churches exist, (Church of Jesus Christ, Mormon Church) well actually I know both exist. Scripture prophesy that Christs church will exist as well as alternates. Always a good idea to consider to whom, or what you belong. And if I can say, consider it independent of a man made database or organization's record system, although those have a place too. What we call ourselves can reveal things. I wonder if many in fact are correct when they call themselves Mormons.  They follow the cultural entity called Mormon.  Hum.... in reality it's not always apparent what someones true meaning is by a word or two, so it's good to consider what words you use and why.  

There's a few elements of the organization remaining that almost promote the "Mormon" title and I'll be curious to see what, if anything happens to them. For example the name of one of the official websites of the church being "Mormon.org", as well as a whole spectrum of media like: "Mormon messages" "Mormon channel" "Hi, I'm so and so and I'm a Mormon" campaign....   Elder Packer wasn't confusing in his address.  Sounded simply and to the point about what we should call ourselves. 

But that aside, I enjoyed the words spoken about Christ being the name of the church, not Mormon. I wonder how people and church departments will respond or align nor not align with Elder Packers counsel.