Sunday, July 31, 2011

Casting Lots

The practice of casting lots is mentioned 70 times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament.  It's also mentioned in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.  What caught my attention was the mention of it at Church today. 

One meaning of the word "lot" is "an object used in deciding a matter by chance, a number of these being in a container and then drawn out or cast out at random one by one" (Webster). The object used by the Jews on the Day of Atonement called a "lot" was "a little stone" (goral, Leviticus 16:8, Gesenius, 179), one to designate a goat as a "sin-offering," and one to designate another goat as a "scape-goat" ("Azazel," Leviticus 16:8-22). Also, lots were cast to designate land inheritances for the tribes of Israel (Joshua 14:2).

The four soldiers who crucified Jesus "cast lots" for one of his garments ("without seam, woven from the top"), as David predicted a thousand years in advance (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24).  God's will was not always sought in connection to lot casting, sometimes it was used to promote fairness in a decision. Aside from people using lot casting for a variety of purposes, we know it was utilized by some, with Gods approval in deciding important matters.

It seems to have been held that the parties involved would offer prayer and then allow the casting of lots to show the will of God.  The practice would allow everyone present and even those not present to physically witness the outcome has having no bias and be accepted as revealing God's will.  All could physically see that there was no human intervention to sway the results one way or another.  Its used in scripture a few times as having determined God's will.

Something about this practice intrigues me.  We still have forms of it in our day.  Some of it I guess is called Sortition.  We draw straws, and flip coins, we pull names out of a hat, and numbers out of bins.  It can remove a lot of human influence from a decision being made.  But as a means of determining divine will, it's not very common.  Some say since the day of Pentecost, with the Holy Spirit now available, such methods of determining Gods will are no longer necessary, or needed.  But I see examples in the D&C of this practice.

The scriptural example of this that was mentioned today was in Acts 1.  The apostles are going about filling Judas's place in the quorum.  They cast lots, and the lot falls on Matthius.  (Acts 1-24-26).  Some in church today thought this was a "vote".  But historically the practice wasn't a vote, but it was something I thought deserved some thought.       

What an interesting way to determine God's will.  I also remember Nephi's use of casting lots to decide who would go try and get the brass plates from Laban.

Just thought this was interesting, I"ll probably add more to this in a bit.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Easy to Be Entreated

I like to find words in the scriptures that aren't often used in our modern language and just make sure I know what they are talking about.  This one caught my eye today.  It's from Alma 7:23.  There's a list of virtues and traits that include "easy to be entreated".  The phrase also appears in James 3:17.  As we come into the Gospel, as we live it, and as we grow in it and mature, the scriptures have lists of things and traits we can notice happening.  Things happen and develop as we draw near to the Savior and live the Gospel.  This can and is intended to be enjoyable I think.  We needn't ever remain stagnant, when we are willing to proceed I think the Lord is willing to teach us, and invite us to receive more light and understanding. 

I wondered for a while at what that phrase "easy to be entreated" means.  I think it means to be easily taught and corrected. Taught or corrected by the still small voice even when it's a whisper.  Not so much easily taught by man, or easily taught philosophies of man, but easily taught truths through the Spirit.  Almost like the Spirit is easily able to communicate with you.

Also easily entreated as opposed to easily offended or easily hurt.

Just some thoughts.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Imposition of Hands

I had an interesting question come to me today.  "Why the imposition of Hands"?

In scripture the following are some of the purposes of the laying on of hands that I found:

  1. Blessings.
  2. The setting apart and anointing of someone
  3. Consecration.
  4. Imparting of spiritual gifts, strength, authority or wisdom.
  5. Substitution and the transfer of punishment.
  6. Healing 
  7. Deliverance.
  8. Prophecy 
  9. To receive the Holy Spirit. 
  10. Confirmation
I wonder what it is about the imposition of hands that dates back so far and is such a part of our religious life.  These were some thoughts I had about the topic.

Truth should point to Christ, so this must be pointing us to Him.  I'm reminded of His hands, pierced and bleeding to pay a debt.  I'm reminded of how he used his hands. Whatever he touched or laid his hands on came alive, received a blessing, or spiritual outpouring of some kind.  Even with his hand outstretched, the winds and sea obeyed him.  Or all of the above.  I wonder if by this ritual and ceremony of placing our hands upon another we are walking, acting and speaking little by little more like Christ.  Or are invited to anyway.  

Hands are where we typically receive, and from where we so often give.  The hands are very symbolic.  By laying them upon the head of another, in the right Spirit and by the right authority, we can be more Christlike, and minister as He would.  You would probably expect to find His Spirit where you minister as He did. Imagine Christ laying His hands on you.  These things are part of the restored Gospel, and the scriptures say that faith leads there. 

During the final days of Christ's life there are many examples where people laid their hands upon Christ to inflict pain, or to wound, or to harm, or to disrespect in some way.  He truly was wounded for our transgressions.  Other people's transgressions literally caused many of His physical wounds.  Throughout the atonement both physically and spiritually he was, as the scriptures say, bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53). The Chastisement of our peace was upon him. Now with his stripes we are healed.  Now, through Him is how we find peace.  He now offers us the Restored Gospel, which has ordinances and ceremonies involving hands being laid upon us to communicate love, blessings, comfort, and promises.  This Gospel really is something.  To me this is not something someone just fabricated to try and quiet our mental, emotional, or social needs.  

I found these thoughts both uplifting and inviting.

Gifts of the Spirit vs Human Talents

It's commonly held and understood in the church that we believe confidently in the Gifts of the Spirit. The list is found in The Book of Mormon, Alma 9:21, 1Corinthians, Moroni 10, D&C 46.

Joseph Smith had this to say:  "We believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost being enjoyed now, as much as it was in the Apostles - days; we believe that [the gift of the Holy Ghost] is necessary to make and to organize the Priesthood, that no man can be called to fill any office int he ministry without it; we also believe in prophecy , in tongues, in visions, and in revelations, in gifts, and in hearings; and that these things cannot be enjoyed without the gift of the Holy Ghost. We believe that the holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and that holy men in these days speak by the same principle; we believe in it's being a comforter and a witness bearer, that it brings things past to our remembrance, leads us into all truth, and shows us of things to come; believe that "no man can know that Jesus is the Christ, but by the Holy Ghost/"  We believe in it in all it's fullness, and power , and greatness, and glory; but whilst we do this, we believe in it rationally, consistently and scripturally, and not according to the wild vagaries, foolish notions and traditions of men...

But suppose the gifts of the Spirit were immediately, upon the imposition of hands, enjoyed by all, in all their fullness and power; the skeptic would still be as far from receiving any testimony except upon a mere casualty as before, for all the gifts of the Spirit are not visible to the natural vision, or understanding of man; indeed very few of them are.  We read that "Christ ascended into heaven and gave gifts unto men; and He gave some Apostles and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers.

The Gifts come from God, they are of God; they are all the gifts of the Holy Ghost; they are what Christ ascended into heaven to impart; and yet how few of them could be known by the generality of men.  Peter and John were Apostles, yet the Jewish court scourged them as impostors.  Paul was both an Apostle and Prophet, yet they stoned him and put him into prison.  The people knew nothing about it, although he had in his possession the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Our savior was "anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows," yet so far from the people knowing Him, they sad He was Beelzebub, and crucified Him as an impostor.  Who could point out a Pastor, a Teacher, or an Evangelist by their appearance, yet had they the gift of the Holy Ghost? 

But to come to the other members of the Church, and examine the gifts as spoken of by Paul, and we shall find that the world can in general know nothing about them, and that there is but one or two that could be immediately known, if they were all poured out immediately upon the imposition of hands.  IN 1 Cor 12 Paul says, "There are diversities of gifts yet the same spirit, and there are differences of administrations but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  But the manifestations of the Spirit is given unto every man to profit withal.  For to one is given, by the Spirit, the word of wisdom, to another, the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit,; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy, to another the discerning of spirits; to another diverse kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the self same spirit, dividing to each man severally as he will.  

There are several gifts mentioned here, yet which of them all could be known by an observer at the imposition of hands?  The word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge, are as much gifts as any other, yet if a person possessed both of these gifts, or received them by the imposition of hands, who would know it?  Another might receive the gift of faith, and they would be as ignorant of it.  Or suppose a man had the gift of healing or power to work miracles, that would not then be known; it would require time and circumstances to call these gifts into operation.  Suppose a man had the discerning of spirits, who would be the wiser for it?  Or if he had the interpretation of tongues, unless someone spoke in an unknown tongue, he of course would have to be silent; there are only two gifts that could be made visible - The gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy.  These are things that are the most talked about, and yet if a person spoke in an unknown tongue, according to Paul's testimony, he would be a barbarian to those present.  They would say that it was gibberish; and if he prophesied they would call it nonsense.  The gift of tongues is the smallest gift perhaps of the whole, and yet it is one that is the most sought after."  (History of the Church Vol 5: 27-30).

In The Second Comforter pg 139-140 the author has some very valuable commentary on this topic:

"Not all the gifts may be outwardly observable but they are all inwardly detectable....  Many things can be faked, but you cannot fake spiritual power.  People pretend to espouse beliefs and /or traits all the time which to no belong to them.  but power in the Spirit cannot be a mere pretense.  Gifts of the Spirit cannot be feigned.  New and inventive ways to describe what is passed off as gifts of the Spirit cannot substitute for the absence of the traditional gifts named in scripture.  Some talents are commonly possessed by mankind whether they have ever been converted or not.  Calling such common talents a "gift of the spirit" may be a humble acknowledgement of the fact all things come from God, but such things are not the "gifts of the Spirit" which are identified in scripture.  The Scriptures are unequivocal in telling us healing, prophecy, ministering angels, speaking in tongues, etc. are the hallmark gifts of the Spirit.  If you have had such a witness and such an experience, you do not need to pretend something is a proof of the power of godliness when it is not.  You will experience the real thing.  And when you do there will be no need for pretending something else is the power of godliness which Christ promised He was retuning to the earth."

That last quote identifies something I think is relevant to all of us.  Human talents, or personal aptitude are not the same as gifts of the Spirit.  I've heard a range of opinions about this. Some say that when an action or behavior is repeated enough to gain total mastery, then this experience leads to a Gift of the Spirit.  Others say that human talents which are refined and beautiful are Gifts of the Spirit, (which is mentioned above).  Others seem to view human capacities as pretty much the same as these gifts.  That to me don't sound correct.  It sounds like the Gifts have been redefined due to a lack of them.  

When I've experienced the Gifts of the Spirit, all are edified.  It often had little to do with my human capacity, or set of talents, or my resume.  My level of experience paled in comparison to the level of experience the Spirit presence was able to portray through me.  It was enlightening.  It was not a perfected human talent, it had all the markings and effects of Spiritual Gifts as found in Scripture.  It was fun.  

What I think would be a terrible loss is if we, as a culture aren't seeing a gift of the Spirit we read about in our scriptures we just end up labeling the next best thing as if it were a gift of the Spirit.      

My point in this post is to not be lulled into security by believing in these Gifts, meanwhile trusting in common labels or assumptions surrounding them.  The real thing leaves no confusion, so we should seek the real thing.
Many gifts are available, and they all come from God.  So personal credit, or gaining pride from them, or calling them results of our own efforts to me sounds incorrect.  We know that the gifts are given for the benefit of the Saints.  As I look around the Church, and within my own ward, there are folks who are in need of the Gifts of the Spirit.  If we do not have them, or at least one of them, then we won't be able to serve those who may really need them.  That would be very unfortunate.  My hope is avoiding that.  We should use our talents, but not conflate human talents with gifts of the Spirit.     

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Came across this quote which I found very good.  It's on the topic of courage and criticism from a speech by Teddy Roosevelt.

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

"Citizenship in a Republic," Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
And now some insight from Dr Paul Debransky about the quote.
Roosevelt draws a sharp line between those who "know what they are talking about" because they are actually DOING something, as opposed to the world of mere "opinion." Anyone, competent or incompetent, ill-intending or well-meaning, can have an opinion...But those mature in character will probably probably offer some, or all of the following.

•They are generous, but not foolish with their resources
•They are wise - both ethical and shrewd
•They have great boundaries, and are respectful of themselves, and of you, even when you are wrong or failing.  (This is my favorite one, since at some point all of us with either fail or be wrong about something)   
•They are strong, and can withstand outside pressure from their personal life, pressure from your arguments at them, and outside pressure on your collaboration together
•They are leading, not controlling, and often serve you, as "servant leaders"
•They teach you all they know, without fear that you will overtake their knowledge, power, or position, but not to foolish degrees.  They in essence teach you to not need the teacher anymore, as opposed to a method that has you constantly relying on them.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Tale of the Three Brothers

I loved this story from Harry Potter.  The lessons go deep.  After you read it, or remember it ask yourself what would you ask for?  Whats our motive for asking?  But most of all, how does what we ask for show or reveal our inner character?  This is a fun little story that I thought good enough to put on the blog.   If you want to watch the animation click here.  Or I've written it out below.

More thoughts after the tale:

“There were once three brothers who were traveling along a lonely, winding road at twilight. In time, the brothers reached a river too deep to wade through and too dangerous to swim across. However, these brothers were learned in the magical arts, and so they simply waved their wands and made a bridge appear across the treacherous water.

Before they could cross however, they found their path blocked by a hooded figure. It was death, and he felt cheated.  Cheated because travelers would normally drowned in the river.   But Death was cunning. He pretended to congratulate the three brothers on their magic, and said that each had earned a prize for having been clever enough to evade him.

So the oldest brother, asked for a wand more powerful than any in existence: So Death fashioned him one from an Elder Tree that stood nearby.

The second brother, decided he wanted to humiliate Death even further, and so he asked for the power to  recall loved ones from the grave.  So Death picked up a stone (known as the resurrection stone) from the river and offered it to him.

Finally Death turned to the third brother. A humble man, who did not trust Death.  He asked for something that would allow him to go forth from that place without being followed by Death.  And so it was that death reluctantly handed over his own Cloak of Invisibility.

The first brother traveled to a distant village, and with Elder wand in hand, he killed a wizard with whom he had once quarreled.  Drunk with the power that the Elder wand had given him, he bragged of his invisibility.  But that night another wizard stole the wand and slit the brother's throat for good measure. And so death took the first brother for his own. 

The second brother journeyed to his own home, where he lived alone. Here he took out the stone that had the power to recall the dead, and turned it thrice in his hand. To his amazement and delight, the figure of the girl he once hoped to marry, before her untimely death, appeared before him.
Yet she was sad and cold, separated from him as by a veil. Though she had returned from the grave, she did not truly belong in the mortal world.  Driven mad with hopeless longing, he killed himself so as to truly join her. And so Death took the second brother.

As for the third brother, Death searched for many years but was never able to find him.  Only when he had attained a great age did the youngest brother shed the Cloak of Invisibility, and give it to his son. He then greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, departing this life as equals."


I'm reminded of something actually within the Gospel, that is curiously related.  Instead of a winding road at twilight, it's a straight and narrow path leading to more light (2Nephi 9:41).  Along this path one grows in light and is lead to an encounter with the being who is Light (D&C 93:1).  The three brothers use magic to create a "bridge" to the other side.  In the Gospel, it's the atonement that bridges the gap between our state and that of God. There was no magic, it was carefully planned and an eternal price was paid on our behalf.

Instead of encountering death, at some point along the Gospel path one encounters He who has overcome Death (John 11:25-26).  A request is granted and the person can ask what they will (3Nephi 28:1) (Enos 1:15). Instead of being learned in the magic arts, the disciple is learned in the mysteries, character, and truths of God (3Nephi 28:25-26).  Instead of departing this life as one owned by death, one departs as one of Christ's, firm in the hope of a Glorious Resurrection. Instead of temporary earthly mystical powers, one gains eternal life, with treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-22).  If you know what to look for, this path and people walking it are everywhere in scripture.  But you'll miss it if you don't know what your looking at.  

The Gospel is so intriguing.  The treasures, wisdom and fascinating elements go on and on.  But we're supposed to leave the mysteries alone right?  We're not supposed to really get into that sort of thing are we?  So I guess we'd better turn Harry Potter back on, lull ourselves into security, and rest assured that if we just go along, follow leaders, stay mainstream, we won't ever be lead astray.  So back to wizardry and magic.

Monday, July 18, 2011

When saw we thee impriosned?

A few posts ago I posted the news article about a man who is in jail having been charged with "stalking President Monson". Stalking was the only legal charge (aside from a previous trespassing violation) filed against him. Since reading the news article a friend and I have been to the SLC jail to visit this man. Our visit was last Sunday. It wasn't so I could talk about it, or share it. It was for personal reasons I don't feel like elaborating about.  That being the case, I won't comment much on specifics other than to say that there are some sore spots the church has that could use some attention. Not criticism, but loving attention.

The church does so much good for so many people. I has done and does incredible good for me. It's all of our duty to care for those among us in need, and continually seek to live the truth our scriptures posses.

So if you're the church where do you put those who come to us with needs like this man from the news article? This man is homeless and has no family. He told us that he wanted to speak with the Prophet and tried the chain of command through his local leader which produced no results; this he said was due to his beliefs about who he is, and his homeless circumstances. This then lead to the events at Church Headquarters. He came with shirt and tie and repeatedly asked for an appointment on various days. He was on an errand and was going to continue it even if it meant he goes to prison.

This man felt God directed him to speak with President Monson regarding his unique challenges getting to the temple. If God indeed did direct this, and the man was prevented from doing so, then some policy and procedure needs to be addressed. We know God sends people among us in disguise (Hebrews 13:2) and should this case turn out to be among them, we may be in for a few surprises.

So what does the church do with those who persist in speaking with the Church's living prophet about their plight? Some may need counsel, others may need to simply deliver a message, or others may need other kinds of help. But it's troublesome when someone doesn't fit the traditional criteria and doesn't quite fit in, and ends up in prison. Especially when they are not a threat or danger to anyone. That speaks of a wound or cause for attention.

I wonder about this man being turned away from church headquarters and sent to prison because no one can think where else to send him. This is a very very difficult thing. He went from a church to a jail. Was there middle ground? A real place of refuge for him if he persisted in his desire to speak with President Monson? What do we do with him? It's a sore spot and while uncomfortable, avoiding it isn't going to cure it. Perhaps things have previously been done to help him, I honestly don't know, so again will not comment. From what I saw it was obvious this man wasn't out to harm anyone or himself, he was not angry and was not a threat. He has some needs that are not being met, and the system had not helped him solve his concerns. He was willing to accept the incarcerated consequences to make himself be heard.

In my view, prison is not the answer to people who won't go away, and don't fit what we as a church want people to be like. Since it was from a church headquarters that the police were called, that makes us the responsible party for his imprisonment. This man is a member of the church, called himself a believer, and was sent to prison on the only charge they could come up with, which was stalking. This is a bit painful.

I wish I had heard of someone calling his local leader, or someone calling a counselor to come and visit with him and help him get what he needed. Or at least offering a phone call to a leader that would satisfy the man's request.  Maybe they did, I don't know.  It would seem odd that God calls modern prophets, only to then isolate them behind layer after layer of administration and protocol. But what do I know. 

I'm no leader, nor am in any position to speak of such decisions. But I hope and pray something good comes of this man's plight. I hope he was not turned away without offers to help. I don't know all the details, and don't know what, if anything has been done for him in the past. I hope it in some small way a visit helped brighten this man's day.  God can use such a place for good, as he said to Joseph Smith, but prison can be a dark place. The physical building has no windows and lets in no natural light. A sad symbol of living in darkness.

I read in scripture about Christ visiting with "the least of these" and with the outcasts, misfits, and rejected of society. The more I learn of Christ the more light I see truly emanates from Him.

My point here is to be aware of how we treat people. Whether or not the Church acted correctly or not, I don't know. I don't know what efforts were made in this man's behalf. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and continue to lend my support. What I know is we should be mindful of how we treat each other. The Lord says how we treat the "least of these" we also do to Him. (Matthew 25:40).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Homless man charged with stalking President Monson

The Following is a news story as reported on KSL.

"Homeless man charged with stalking Pres. Monson
July 8th, 2011 @ 7:55pm
By Brian West

Benjamin Tucker Staples

SALT LAKE CITY — A homeless man was charged Friday with stalking the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Benjamin Tucker Staples, 36, was charged with stalking, a class A misdemeanor.

Salt Lake police officers were called to the LDS Church Office Building, 50 E. North Temple, on July 5 after receiving a report of a trespasser. Officers were told Staples had been to the building about five times since June 25 asking to speak with President Thomas S. Monson.

Staples was "told on every prior appearance that he is not to return to the premises," the charges filed in 3rd District Court state. "Each prior incident, the defendant was arrested and booked into the jail."

Staples, who has the alias of "Jesus Christ" listed in the Salt Lake County Jail booking information, told officers "he intends to keep returning to the offices" until he meets President Monson, the charges state.

Each time, he refused to leave voluntarily, "choosing instead to be arrested by police," according to the charges.

"Church security is concerned for the safety of the president and those employed in the building because of defendant's persistence even after being told not to return and given a written trespass order," the charges state.

Staples is being held in jail on $25,000 bail."
- End of article.

Bond for Staples' stalking charges total $26,850. His case is being heard in Salt Lake's Third District Court. No small amount, especially for a homeless man. Interesting that a homeless man is threatening enough that instead of speaking with Church leaders, he ends up speaking with the prison warden. I wasn't there, but we learn a lot from what he was charged with. There were no charges relating to violence, threats, or putting people in harms way. He simply wouldn't leave unless he got to speak with President Monson, and persisted. I can't comment beyond the facts of the article, but this all brings up some big picture issues.

I wonder if President Monson even knew that this guy wanted to talk to him. The current Church President has a long and consistent history of showing charity, of visiting the sick, serving those in need, and offering comfort to the afflicted. Who can deny that? His history is clear and full of service to those in need. There is enough evidence that for me any doubt about this news article is settled in favor of President Monson.

Moving on, the article does present a few troubling elements I wanted to comment on. Something about a man showing up to a church (or church headquarters) and ending up in prison is bothersome. He clearly needed something and now of all institutions, the prison system is the one helping him. That's the last place to rehabilitate someone....  Maybe he was obnoxious, and legitimately a threat or danger to people's safety, I don't know. To my knowledge the legal charges don't say or indicate that this was the case, but I'll stay open to additional facts.

One problem here (from my limited understanding based on a very short news article), is the ever increasing religious protocol and administrative procedures dictating what we think and do. President Monson can receive inspiration, whereas protocol and procedure are not designed to be open to the influence of the Spirit. They are rigid and usually have a good reason to exist but can also become a problem if not kept in check. There are those who may not see a need for inspiration when there is clearly a "protocol/procedure" in place. When such lifeless things begin to determine behavior and peoples responses, I think unfortunate consequences will not be far behind. I wonder if policy restricted inspiration with this man's plight.

I mean, all established procedures must be followed right? We can always rely on them to not lead us astray right? Or so the thinking goes...

Matthew 25: 35-36: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

I think Christ walked and taught the way of Eternal life.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Come unto Christ

Moroni 10:30 "And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing."

Jacob 1:7 "Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter in, as in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness."

Come unto Christ. I hear that so much. We are to come unto the Father through Christ. So we must come to Christ. All scriptures exhort us to do this, and to partake of His goodness and enter into his rest.

So what does coming to Christ imply in it's fullness? What happens if we reject the fullness and only embrace a portion?

Have you truly come to someone if you two have never met? I suppose to a degree you can. But I think to truly come to someone means you meet them, converse with them, it's a physical encounter where you are in such a persons literal presence. To me that is what it means to "Come to Christ". Until then, have we come to Christ fully?

We have the privilege of embracing the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not just a portion of it. We should have, live, and enjoy the fullness, should we not? Are there people who have done this? Or is it too sacred to let anyone else know that there are those in our day experiencing the fullness of the Gospel? Is this reserved only for a select few, or are all invited? (2 Nephi 26:33)

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God ... then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints. ... Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself” ( Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 150–51).

The Lord's People

Apostle Orson Hyde, in April of 1846 received a revelation with a magnificent and profound message:

In my meditations this morning, the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I was moved to write:
And being grieved in my spirit on account of false pretenses by evil designing persons to gain power, and lead away the flock of God, it whispered [to] me and said: Evil men, ambitious of power, must needs arise among you, and they shall be led by their own self-will and not by me. Yet they are instruments in my hands, and are permitted to try my people, and to collect from among them those who are not the elect, and such as are unworthy of eternal life. Grieve not after them, neither mourn nor be alarmed. My people know my voice and also the voice of my spirit, and a stranger they will not follow; Therefore such as follow strangers are not my people.

(Unpublished Revelations, vol. 1, comp. by Fred Collier, pp. 104-105)"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why Go to Church

I came across this post from a friends blog that I think is so worthwhile I wanted to post it.  The whole thing is a direct quote.

"There is a great deal of unrest in the church. Oftentimes the result is inactivity. I believe that is a mistake. If all those who continued to care about the Gospel persisted in attending meetings and serving, it would do more to help the church than drifting into inactivity. Those who are sensitive to the troubles which beset the church need to be there, faithfully serving. If only those who are blinded to the troubles remain active, then the organization becomes narrower and narrower, less and less aware of its situation, and prone to continue in a course that will discard yet more of what matters most.

I wish I could inspire thousands of inactive Saints to return to activity. I know I have helped hundreds to return. Those who are most troubled are the ones who the church can use right now. Those who keenly sense that all is not well with Zion are the ones who need to be filling the pews. Until they fill the pews they won't be filling the leadership positions. And until they fill the leadership positions, there won't be any changes made to the course we are on at present.

If you love Zion and want her redemption, then serve her cause. Faithfully serve her cause. Don't sever yourself from her.

There is no question the Lord will hold accountable those who are in leadership positions for every word, every thought, and every deed. (Alma 12: 14.) They aren't spared. This is why we should pray for them, uphold them, and do what we can to relieve them of the terrible burdens and consequences of being accountable for their callings. (D&C 107: 22.)

When you withdraw from the church you cut yourself off from necessary ordinances, including the sacrament. You imperil your capacity to keep the Sabbath day holy. You limit your capacity to serve others. Even a bad lesson makes you consider what the teacher and manual is ignoring, misstating or mangling. You needn't be argumentative or unpleasant. But by being there you have a time to reflect upon the subject being addressed by the class and to contemplate what that subject means to you. Use it meditatively and gratefully. It is a gift. If you see more clearly than others, then thank the Lord for that and stop being impatient with your fellow Saint.

You are a gift to the church. Your talents and your abilities belong to and were intended to be a part of the church. Serve there. Patiently and kindly. You needn't start an argument in every class to make a difference. Quietly going about serving and occasionally providing a carefully chosen insight is important and will garner you far more blessings than withdrawing and letting your light grow dim.

We're all in this together. This is our dispensation. You are responsible for helping it be preserved and passed along to the rising generation. Do not grow weary in this fight. We share a common enemy, and it is not the leadership of the church. It is the one who stirs people up to anger. (2 Ne. 28: 20.)

I'd like to open people's eyes only so as to permit them to save their own souls and those of others. I would never want anyone to walk away from the church as a result of seeing its weaknesses. Be wise, but harmless. (Matt. 10: 16.) Be patient with anyone's shortcomings, no matter whether they serve in the nursery or in the presidency of an organization."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

As our country remembers and celebrates Independence Day I enjoyed watching the fireworks lighting up the sky. The light lasts for a minute and then fades, but the light from the stars shines on. Light from heaven endures. The light from the stars, moon, and sun shines on to testify of even greater freedom offered from the creator of the Universe.

The freedoms a country has are wonderful. I pray our country maintains them, and lives according to the principles that God has established for it's success. These freedoms free us to also learn of and enjoy the freedoms offered to us by Christ. Freedom from sin, bondage, and death. True liberty found only in Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:2 "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."

2 Corinthians 3:17 "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

Galatians 5:1 "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

Mosiah 5:8 "And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives."

Ether 2:12 "Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written."

Serving the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, has many many many levels of freedom associated with it. Both temporal and spiritual. We can receive it through faith. God is good.

The Gospel has the Answers

Here is a quote from President Uchtdorf that I love. I think this is a sincere leader who desires to lead in righteousness. This quote has profound implications.

“The gospel of Jesus Christ has the answers to all of our problems. The gospel is not a secret. It is not complicated or hidden. … It is not someone’s theory or proposition. It does not come from man at all. It springs from the pure and everlasting waters of the Creator of the universe, who knows truths we cannot even begin to comprehend. And with that knowledge, He has given us the gospel—a divine gift, the ultimate formula for happiness and success.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Way of the Disciple,” Liahona or Ensign, May 2009, 75.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Temple and Revelation

Corinthians 13:12 says: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
The next excerpt is from a chapter called "The Temple as a tool". I had no idea what that meant for a long time after first reading those words, but I tried an experiment which worked and now I understand much better what it means.

Here is the passage: "The temple rites are intended themselves to be a revelation. They reveal much about God if you are willing to receive it. You first see things through the eyes of faith before seeing the things themselves. In the temple you are permitted the opportunity of seeing, if you have the eyes of faith, the deepest things of God. They are presented before your mind as if seeing the visions of heaven themselves. Receive them as you would receive a visitation from God Himself. Then, when you have the eyes to see these things through faith, you are finally read to receive The Second Comforter and the comfort coming from that experience; which will leave you with a calmness and indescribably peacefulness. "Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him,; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will." (D&C 88:68.)"

And then a few paragraphs later is this:

"Use the temple to cleanse yourself. Use the Temple's rites to separate yourself from the world. Make yourself "sacred space" which is set apart form the word, behind a veil, where the Spirit of the Lord is unrestrained. These rites apply the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to cleanse, purify, wash, anoint, clothe, and endow you with power. Accept them in faith, nothing doubting, and realize the "power of godliness" can and will be manifested to you through them." (The Second Comforter p381-382)

The temple can be seen in so many different lights. I've tried quite a few and they have very different effects. But many of them lead to one general thing, and that is me not going or believing in it. As I've attempted to see it in the right light I've found a huge variety of alternate ways get presented. Some good, some kind of good, some pretty general in view that most people I know would share, and some views cast the place in a light that surly will not uplift anyone. Some cast it in a light that only increases doubt and fear. Some of the points of view have merit, although negative, it's reasonable to come across such a perspective. For me such views although interesting do not increase the light I am able to receive from God.

For me, looking back at just how diverse many thing can appear, it's clear that how something appears may not be how things really are. The way we look at it may be through a glass darkly, but would look very different in the true Light. As this letter to the Corinthians put it: "Face to Face" a person shall know even as they are known. I think the Temple invites us through symbols to have just such an experience. To truly "see" clearly, not as though through a darkened glass.

Redeeming the dead, a house of learning, a house of prayer, I think takes on an entirely different light once the individual them self has been redeemed. They can see and know clearly.