Saturday, December 31, 2011

Salvation and Knowledge

Below is from "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith" p 297.

It's been very interesting to read this book, and at the same time read some of the current news involving the FLDS faith.  When compared side by side, Joseph's words are humble, he is so often saying he would not have undertaken such a ministry and role had heaven its self not called him to do so.  There is truth to his words.  The revelations he gave live on to this day, due to the truth they contain.  The truth endures.  Joseph wanted peoples religious devotion (and dependence) to be to deity, not a man.

Here are some of Joseph's teachings on salvation and knowledge:  

"Add to your faith knowledge, etc. The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation.  This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned.  The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. 

Salvation is nothing more nor less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them under our feet.  And when we have power to put all enemies under our feet in this world and a knowledge to triumph over all evil spirits in the world to come, then we are saved, as in the case of Jesus, who was to reign until He had put all enemies under His feet, and the last enemy was death. 

Salvation means a man's being placed beyond the power of all his enemies.  The more sure word of prophecy means a man's knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the holy priesthood.  It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.  

I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, then the long, smooth-faced hypocrite.  I do not want you to think that I am very righteous for I am not, God judges men according to the use they make of the light which He gives them."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

By patience and persuasion

I like Joseph's persuasion here.  He allows everyone the choice as to what he teaches.  He doesn't exercise control or fear to gather a following, or share truth, instead he says this:

P 341 "I ask, did I ever exercise any compulsion over any man?  Did I not give him the liberty of disbelieving any doctrine I have preached, if he saw fit?  Why do not my enemies strike a blow at the doctrine?  They cannot do it; it is truth, and I defy all men to upset it.  I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness."

And some very wise words from page 392.

"Not always wise to Expose Evil"

Said Joseph, "Our lives have already become jeopardized by revealing the wicked and bloodthirsty purposes of our enemies; and for the future we must cease to do so.  All we have said about them is truth, but it is not always wise to relate all the truth.  Even Jesus, the Son of God, had to refrain from doing so, and had to restrain His feelings many times for the safety of Himself and His followers, and had to conceal the righteous purposes of His heart in relation to many things pertaining to His Father's kingdom.  When still a boy He had all the intelligence necessary to enable Him to rule the govern the kingdom of the Jews, and could reason with the wisest and more profound doctors of the law and divinity, and make their theories and practices to appear like folly compared with the wisdom He possessed; but He was a boy only and lacked physical strength even to defend His own person; and was subject to cold, to hunger and to death."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Disappointed Saints

This comes from Joseph Smith and is quoted by Elder Marion G. Romney:

We might take a lesson from an account given by the Prophet of a vision of the resurrection in which he records that one of the saddest things he had ever witnessed was the sorrow of the members of the Church who came forth to a resurrection below that they had taken for granted they would receive. Improvement Era, #52, Dec. 1949, p. 754.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sisters Administering to the Sick

 It's funny when I read something that Joseph Smith taught that if done now days may land you a probing interview, or even a disciplinary council.  Or perhaps more uncomfortable: labeled as a weirdo among your fellow ward members.

Here's a few passages from "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith". P224, 229.  Apparently he viewed things very differently than our current view.  I personally find Joseph's view interesting.  Less rigid than modern thought.  

"Respecting females administering for the healing of the sick, he further remarked, there could be no evil in it, if God gave His sanction by healing; that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on and praying for the sick, than in wetting the face with water; it is no sin for anybody to administer that has faith, or if the sick have faith to be healed by their administration."

"President Smith then gave instruction respecting the propriety of females administering to the sick by the prayer of faith, the laying on of hands, or the anointing with oil; and said it was according to revelation that the sick should be nursed with herbs and mild food, and not by the hand of an enemy.  Who are better qualified to administer than our faithful and zealous sisters, whose hearts are full of faith, tenderness, sympathy and compassion.  No one.

The sisters laying their hands on the sick?  With oil?  That's sure interesting.  Guess we've gotten so good at medicine that we don't need this any more? 

Along the topic of sickness and finding healing.  Joseph differentiates between faith, and trust in the arm of the flesh.  How much application this has to modern day is up to you to decide.  But the quote is here for you to think about. It's on p190.

"Sunday Sept 5 1841.  I preached to a large congregation at the stand, on the science and practice of medicine, desiring to persuade the Saints to trust in God when sick, and not in an arm of flesh, and live by faith and not by medicine, or poison; and when they were sick, and had called for the Elders to pray for them, and they were not healed, to use herbs and mild food."

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Plan for Your Salvation TPJS

"Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p220"

"The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation, before it rolled into existence, or ever "the morning stars sang together" for joy; the past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal "now";  he knew of the fall of Adam, the iniquities of the antediluvians, of the depth of iniquity that would be connected with the human family, their weakness and strength, their power and glory, apostasies, their crimes, their righteousness and iniquity; He comprehended the fall of man, and his redemption; He knew of the plan of salvation and pointed it out; He was acquainted with the situation o f all nations and with their destiny; He ordered all things according to the council of His own will; He knows the situation of both the living and the dead, and has made ample provision for their redemption, according to their several circumstances, and the laws of the kingdom of God, whether in this world, or in the world to come."

Ample provision for our redemption.  Ample.  God is trustworthy because of His character, His knowledge, and His power.  His goodness defies description. It's Holy.

P256 "God never has- He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his law and ordinances"

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Real Christmas Tree

 The Christmas Tree, with its fresh pine aroma, sparkling ornaments, and brilliant lighting, is our most endearing symbol of the happiest season of the year.  Americans spend over a half a billion dollars a year on their Christmas Trees. Each year the furniture is moved aside to make it the central decoration of the home.  Without a tree, and without lights, Christmas would not seem Christmas at all.

Along with all the other customs of the holiday season, we wonder why we have the Christmas tree. Most of us assume that this large woody plant allowed in the living room must have some relationship to the story of Bethlehem.  The star that many place atop the tree clearly does, however history shows no connection with the tree itself.  The Christmas Tree, which is now almost a unique American custom, was likely absorbed from the ancient pagan rituals of barbaric German tribes.  It originally was a form of tree worship. 

Tree worshiping has been found in the ancient cultures of many different nations.  Primitive humans have been awed by the majesty of living trees.  However, if we could go back far enough, there is evidence that some forms of tree worshiping might be a degeneration of ancient Gospel teachings.  For example, in the Garden of Eden account, it was a tree which brought about man's mortality.  We also find frequent scriptural references to another Tree, one who's fruit would give the partaker Eternal Life.  This is "The Tree of Life"  The references to this miraculous tree is often forgotten by most us today during Christmas, but scriptures and ancient teachings have much to say about this special, life-giving tree.  The symbols of this tree point directly to Christ, his healing power, and His loving atonement, so we might call it the tree of Christ or even, the real Christmas tree.  Its symbolic representations has been used by the Lord on special occasions, dreams to prophets, and a points to a personal encounter with the things we celebrate on Christmas.  We all know what was beneath the Star of Bethlehem.  And since we place a star atop our Christmas trees, we can see a bit more correlation to the symbol beneath our Christmas Tree star.  The tree, and gifts.   

Our custom of decorating a Christmas tree might be more meaningful if we knew more about the real tree of Christ, where it has existed, what it looks like, and where it is to be found by us individually.  The Tree of Life from the section heading of D&C 88 is said to be an olive tree. Olive oil as we know symbolizes the holy Ghost, and is commonly referred to in Scriptures.  There is another, very personal reference to this Tree of life.  It comes from a seed, one that Alma in the Book of Mormon invites anyone interested to plant in their own heart.   

There is perhaps no better time to try Alma's tree-growing experiment (Alma 35) than during the Christmas season which warms our hearts with the spirit of giving, sweet memories of renewed friendships, and the pleasant reminders of the beautiful story of Bethlehem.  The seed Alma invites all to plant, grows to become "A Tree of Life", because that is what the seed is intended to become.  Once planted it grows, it is your own, because you planted the seed in your own heart.  It grows and if cared for properly becomes a tree of life, creating a paradise inside your own temple.  Christmas is a time when can often find it easier than ever to "let our hearts be full drawn out continually unto God."    

As we seek out, or enjoy a Christmas tree to place in the heart of our home, this Christmas let us contemplate the necessity of seeking out the Lord's Christmas tree to place in the heart of our inner-most being.  As we decorate the evergreen with lights and shiny tinsel, we can fill our hearts with the light and joy Christ bestowed by his gifts.  We can looking forward to the time when "His tree of life will spring forth with fruit which is sweet above all that is sweet, pure above all the is pure."

It is then that we will be able to respond as Nephi when asked: "Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?  "And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.
And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul."
Then the spirit of Christmas will truly be the delicious fruit of the holy tree of Christ.

(Paraphrased and adapted from "The Real Christmas Tree" by Max Skousen)

Friday, December 23, 2011

"The" Prophet

Been reading "Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith".  Today is his birthday so I thought this post appropriate. 

This man was a Prophet, he acts the part, it's not just what he says, it's what he does, the way he talks, and the bold courage he has in proclaiming things that bring upon him persecution.  But interestingly he was a Prophet before holding the office of President of the Church.  It seems the office itself did not confer the prophetic call upon him as we sometimes view things in our day.  On page 278 He says: "This morning I visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet'; but I told them that a prophet is a prophet only when he was acting as such".   This too shows me he wasn't using his position for power, influence, or to gain recognition.  You don't make such a comment if you are after power and worldly praise.  You make the comment if you know your weaknesses and are on the Lord's errand as opposed to your own.   

I'm excited to read how he would regularly expand on the meaning of the scriptures.  His words cast new light on passages in the Bible and Book of Mormon, he would also add sound reasoning and depth.  He is often quoted having read many many scriptures, using them to teach, and would speak freely of what was once though an obscure passage.    

Whatever flaws Joseph may have had, appear human weaknesses. I'm aware of most of the ones people point out and use as evidence for why he is not credible, or why he is false or whatever.  The things I read cast a much harsher judgement upon him than he was putting on others.  That made me pause.  He said he would throw a cloak of charity over others sins and weaknesses if they would do the same for him.  But the critics don't seem to want to show Joseph, what Joseph was willing to show them.  More evidence of his character.  He never claimed to be without  flaw, or mistake.  He actually was always referring to himself as "your unworthy servant" when he would wrote to people.  When I read those words I feel his sincerity.  It's not lip service.  It gives hope that God can work through a mortal because Joseph was human and He worked through Joseph.  Prior to the 1950's anytime the words "The Prophet" we spoken, it was unquestioningly referring to Joseph.  It's only in more modern days we have started applying the title to the current President of the Church.

In 1951 during the presidency of David O Mckay marked the first time the term "living prophet" was regularly applied to the current President of the Church in church publications.  Prior to this, the title "The prophet" referred to Joseph, and the President of the Church was the President of the Church.  Quite a change. Greater obedience to the current Church President was the general goal and outcome of that change in the 50's.  If you combine institutional position, and "living prophet", in peoples minds you have combined powerful ingredients.  Cultural views will change, and new definitions of words will result too.  The scriptural fruits, definition, and well known signs of a Prophet Leader may even change to accommodate the new view.  A discussion of the 1951 change, the motives and history are sometimes troubling, but needn't dampen our faith in the Lord, nor our hope, nor how we sustain our current leaders.  If you feel so inclined you can read the historical data and more of the details here in "Passing the Heavenly Gift, Milcreek Press 2011 chapter 9."

Back to Joseph though, his Prophetic call is clear if I honestly and sincerely look at what he taught. Not only because the people sustained him in his office, but because his ministry has all the clear and identifiable characteristics of a man called to be a prophet of God.  He entertained angels, prophesied, gave revelations, healed, and publicly would give details of his personal encounters with God.  There was no vague indirect testimony that only suggested direct contact with God.  He frankly and in simple English said that he saw Him.  It was blunt and simple, to believer and non believer alike.  He told the whole world about it without regard for the persecution it brought.

His ideas were original, and from God.  He often spoke of direct visions, healings, direct revelation, dreams and his logic is not logic of someone on his own agenda with elementary school education. He was not just the president of an organization, he tried to only live according to revelations from God, not simply good teachings that would make him popular in the eyes of the world or make him famous for good morals.  He was hated, persecuted, and constantly trying to teach people higher things.  True signs of a true prophet. 

Here are a few a few excerpts from the book that I found very interesting.  p61 "We may conclude, that though there were different dispensations yet all things which God communicated to His people were calculated to draw their minds to the great object, and to teach them to rely upon God alone as the author of their salvation, as contained in His law."

And another quote revealing his character.

"In pitching my tent we found three massasugas or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, "Let them alone-don't hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose its venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it?  Men must become harmless before the brute creation, and when men lose their viscous disposition and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety."  The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek, I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger."

Listen to his reasoning.  He wasn't just an animal lover.  His reasoning was way way way beyond that.  He was looking forward to a millennial day when man would loose his evil disposition to destroy, and would instead looked forward to living in peace with the creation.  It was man's "venomous" disposition that he was trying to point out, with the object of redemption so mankind could live in peace.  Not because Zion has bigger guns than Zion's enemies, but because of their inner disposition being more like that of God.  He was often speaking of repentance.  Directly, and in a straightforward manner.

Today, as I think about the coming Christmas celebration, and the truth about the Gospel of Jesus Christ that has been restored.  I plan to do more with what truth Joseph labored to restore.  Truth that has, and always was supposed to point and lead to God.  He is "The Prophet".

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Forget not those in need" TPJS

“And if there are any among you who aspire after their own aggrandizement, and seek their own opulence, while their brethren are groaning in poverty, and are under sore trials and temptations, they cannot be benefited by the intercession of the Holy Spirit, which maketh intercession for us day and night with groaning that cannot be uttered.  We ought at all times to be very careful that such high-mindedness shall never have place in our hearts; but condescend to men of low estate, and with all long-suffering bear the infirmities of the weak.”  (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 143)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith

Joseph has said a few times already in just a few pages of this book that it's important a person commune personally with God, and get for themselves a knowledge of Him, and a knowledge of the truth.  He teaches this in the context of knowing for yourself, so you are not dependent on anyone else for your knowledge and relationship to God.  Such a teaching does not come from someone who wants to promote himself, or gather a following for his own selfish purposes.

If I were to contrast what Joseph himself taught, and what I'm commonly taught, the difference would be that the predominant teaching is about the Prophet Joseph, we want people to have a testimony of him and his calling.  Which is fine, it's good.  I desire to know about such a seer.  I personally believe he was in fact a Prophet of God.   However Joseph from what I read of his actual teachings and writings was interested in something higher.  He wanted us to seek, ask, and knock and come into contact with God ourselves. 

What I'm taught leads to dependence, what Joseph Taught promotes freedom.  Joseph's objective would put people in contact with God, who would approve of the inspired words Joseph brought forth.  However, a testimony of a man and his calling, even if he is called of God, is not necessarily the same as you yourself being in contact with God.  Big difference.  Important distinction.  Dependent on man, or dependent on God.  On the outside both may pay proper heed to prophetic words.  But for different reasons, and with a different outcome.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Unconditional or Not?

If fundamental truths about God's nature get distorted, then faith becomes impossible (see Lectures on Faith, 1,2,3.).  Impossible because without understanding the true characteristics of deity, doubt will exist in the mind, and doubt and faith cannot coexist according to the lectures.  One of the required foundational elements for faith according to Joseph Smith was an understanding that "God is Love".

With that in mind consider the following three quotes, all from the Church produced Ensign magazine.

"God is our father; he loves us; his love is infinite and unconditional. His sorrow is great when we disobey his commandments and break his laws. He cannot condone our transgressions, but he loves us and wants us to return to him. I know of no greater inducement to repentance and reconciliation with our Father in Heaven than an awareness of his unconditional love for us personally and individually."  - Elder Ronald E. Poelman, "God's Love for Us Transcends Our Transgressions," Ensign, May 1982, page 27.

"The greatest example of love available to all of us is, of course, found in the scripture from John: 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.' (John 3:16.) By the greatest of all acts of love and by this supreme sacrifice, God set the pattern. He demonstrated to us that His love was unconditional and sufficient to encircle every person."  Marvin J. Ashton, We Serve That Which We Love, Ensign, May 1981, Page 22

I came across something from the Feb 2003 Ensign that had a somewhat different message and which made me pause.

"Divine Love Is Also Conditional : While divine love can be called perfect, infinite, enduring, and universal, it cannot correctly be characterized as unconditional. The word does not appear in the scriptures. On the other hand, many verses affirm that the higher levels of love the Father and the Son feel for each of us—and certain divine blessings stemming from that love—are conditional.  Understanding that divine love and blessings are not truly 'unconditional' can defend us against common fallacies such as these: 'Since God's love is unconditional, He will love me regardless …'; or 'Since 'God is love,' He will love me unconditionally, regardless …' These arguments are used by anti-Christs to woo people with deception."  Russell M. Nelson, "Divine Love," Ensign, Feb. 2003

I get that there are some fallacies that we should avoid.  They are lazy, and pretend assumptions about God's love leading you to believe God will reward you the same when you disobey him, as if you obeyed.  That is obviously false.  However this last quote could be misread very easily.  The statement "Divine Love is also Conditional" seems at odds (well, it's directly contradictory) with the other statements by other authorities.   When the nature of God's love undergoes a word changes, and word clarifications, and word definitions I think it can become a head game, rather than something our hearts can understand and experience.  It was said "unconditional" is a word not found in scripture.  Neither is universal, yet that word was employed as an adjective.  I respect Elder Nelson a great deal.  I think his message is aimed to help us avoid fallacies which would leave us disappointed in the end were we to buy into them.

However what I also sense is the supreme importance to not misunderstand this element to Gods nature.  It can prevent a person from being able to exercise proper faith according to Joseph Smith.  And I"m confident Joseph, who was in the presence of God and Christ is a reputably authority on the subject.  There is clearly some confusion between the messages quoted above.  I point this out for others to notice and resolve for themselves because many things are being taught, and this topic is so very important.

Monday, December 12, 2011

How to Pray and Stay Awake part 4

"People find it easier to be childish rather than childlike"

"When we were children, we had faith in such things as Santa Claus simply because such a person was described to us by those we had learned to trust.  In those tender years, there was no doubt in our minds as to whether there was such a jolly old man, for everybody knew it was so, it seemed to us.  We were also told about God, Jesus, angels, what happened to good boys and girls and what happened to bad ones.  This too, we believed.  We were also told that God would answer our prayers.  We believed that too, so when we prayed, we did not doubt..."

We need to return to the childlike belief we once had if we want more out of our prayers.   The adult cynicism, and skepticism does not aid our prayers, but in reality hinders them.

"Another hindrance to prayer was emphasized may times by Christ.  When teaching his followers how to pray, he counseled, "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if he have other against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." (Mark 11:25).  An unforgiving spirit is undoubtedly on of the most common hindrances to prayer.  Prayer is answered on the basis that our sins are forgiven; but God will not deal with us on the basis of forgiveness while we are harboring ill-will against those who have wronged us.

Peter instructed the saints regarding another related impediment to prayer.  He tells us plainly that a wrong relationship between husband and wife inhibits our communication with the Lord.  "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."

I found this in a bible commentary which I thought was appropriate regarding part of that verse: When Peter references "the weaker vessel", it is not necessarily meant that she is of feebler capacity, or inferior mental endowments, but that God has so constituted male and female with inherently different needs, strengths, and weaknesses. As such, husbands should regard their wives with a special kindness and attention.  

"that your prayers be not hindered"... In present day, with the rapid increase of divorce and general breakdown of marriage, this would indicate there are a great many prayers being hindered.  How we regard our spouse makes big difference.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Awake and Arise

Ephesians 5:14. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

Romans 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

2Nephi 1:13. O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.

Alma 5:7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.  

Awake from a deep sleep. Not necessarily from physical sleep.  Since few people can read the scriptures while sleeping, the call in scriptures to awake must extend and refer to something else.  But the idea of waking up is something everyone can relate to at one level or another. So it's a intriguing way to teach a concept.  It's as though we are in a blinding trance, have forgotten everything, and are unable to "see" or interpret the world outside of the dream we find ourselves in.  And often times some even fight to remain in the dream and fight to preserve the illusion because it has become so comfortable.   

Hence we are to "come to".  As in someone regaining consciousness "comes to".   But we are to "Come to Christ".  He shall then give us light as Ephesians says.  It's true.      

This awakening I read about is describing something real, it's not just some metaphor, or a reference to a vague symbolic concept.  I can attest to this awakening, and although unpleasant at times, it's real, it does bring light, and it brings joy.  It's not limited to new awareness, but an actual enlightenment of the mind and soul.  

For me as I look back, had someone told me I was asleep I wouldn't have believed them, and would have thought them odd.  Now I look forward to being told I"m asleep because each degree of waking up has been such a good thing.  The scriptures that talk about awakening almost immediately then refer to "arising" or increasing in light, or a new level.

As to Arise, arise means "to ascend, or move to a higher place…" Arise is a state of being or becoming.  "Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord." (D&C 133:1)

Found the following quote especially good and relevant.  It's from the "Mission of Elijah Reconsidered" paper I've quoted the last few posts:
"We must be reminded relentlessly that the condition we find ourselves in is one where it is absolutely necessary to awake and arise, shake off the dust,and, get out of the slumber you are in. There are those who have awakened only to find themselves in a nightmare of their own making because the reaction to awakening is violent. Don‘t fear that. You will get over it. You will find God is eager to help once you‘ve awakened. He has not left you here alone. He will always comfort you. In the proper circumstances, and after your awakening has proceeded to the proper point, He will personally comfort you. He will also introduce you to the Father, and they will take up their abode with you, just as they did with Joseph Smith."


Had a good laugh this morning on the way to work as I saw the University of Utah's new billboard advertising their professional MBA program.

This was the picture: 

There is no where for a fish to go, if fish could fly this picture would make sense.  I had to chuckle..... by "Rising to the next level" this fish's life will likely not last longer than a minute or so.  I also chuckled that they used a goldfish.  The fish everyone knows costs hardly anything, maybe a dollar or two for the bigger ones.  They are also often used as a feeder for larger fish. 

So according to this add..... the Professional MBA is depicted by a gold fish rising to the next level into the unknown air, which again would be great if fish didn't need water.      

I think they meant to use an image more like this:

But I don't have an MBA, so what do I know.

There are many billboards about "rising" around town.  BYU has one as well.  Everyone wants to "rise", all these billboards are using this catch phrase "rise".  Not to be confused with "arise".

I found this following quote from a friend David especially interesting:

"While using the word rise in marketing slogans today might seems clever and positive, the word RISE in scripture usually always has a negative connotation. Definitions of the word “rise” include “to revolt" and "to puff up or become larger… to swell up, expand.” Rise is also word used when speaking about making bread, as it was the yeast—or leaven—that would cause the bread to “rise”.  Yeast was synonymous with sin… since it has the same effects that sin (pride, wealth, and power) has, to cause us to be “puffed up".

Wilford Woodruff wrote the people in those days, like Israel of old, associated certain worldly successes with their ideas of right, and misfortunes with their ideas of wrong. That of course would make them morally obligated to get rich.  Since we 'can buy anything in this world with money,' it is the tool that Satan created and uses. The word “money” itself comes from the Latin word “moneta” which means “warning”, as well as from the French word mon─ôre which means caution, or warning."

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Peace of Zion

It begins in your own thoughts, when you let virtue garnish them unceasingly. Question your own motives, not others'. Question your own obedience and service, not others. Be quick to judge yourself, and cover the mistakes of others with charity.  Pray for your critics and those who you know offend God by the things they are doing. They are ignorant, and if you do not ask for God‘s mercy on their behalf they will never know enough to ask for it themselves. Make intercession for them.

The peace in Zion is the same peace Joseph described in his letter from Liberty Jail, (D&C 121). That peace begins inside you. It is not merely the discipline of warfare and enforcement of rights through conflict. That will be the way the wicked seek peace. For Zion, the peace comes from within.  Zion will not have peace due to military force, they will instead have the peace of God's presence.  God will fight the battles of Zion (D&C 105:14) and the wicked will not dare get involved (D&C 45:70).

Your worldview and life's results

This is from an article titled THE MISSION OF ELIJAH RECONSIDERED:
Denver C. Snuffer, Jr. 2011.

The reference is a book titled "Ten Parables" by the same author.  The book is short but large in content.  This passage I'm quoting will still make sense even if you haven't read the parable.  But will mean more if you have read it. Lance and James are the two main characters. Tarwater, and Hope are the respective towns they are from in the parable. I was struck at the depth and truth of the message.  I had to pause and think about how much our worldview influences what we encounter in life.  It's so easy to insist that the world IS the way we perceive it. But that may not be true, in fact it may be very incorrect. 

"In Ten Parables there is a story of ―Hope and Tarwater -which by the way is a parable that has multiple meanings, but the intended meaning is that both Hope and Tarwater are the pre-existence. You run with that when you read it. Tonight, because parables allow you to shift meaning, what I would like the story to be about is the attitude you bring with you to any of life‘s circumstances. You likely bring your life‘s attitude from the pre-existence, but we‘ll confine tonight to the attitude you bring with you to anything you encounter in mortality. You see, what Lance found in the forest was exactly what Lance thought he would find in the forest. What James found in the forest was exactly what James thought he would find in the forest. Neither one of them could escape the view they brought with them into the condition they found themselves. It is a painful experience to realize that the way you have always understood the world is, in fact,skewed, amiss, ugly, wrong, deceived, and even malevolent. No one wants to encounter that, which makes change so terribly difficult for us."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How to Pray and Stake Awake Pt 3

If someone were to ask us an hour after a typical prayer what we had prayed for, often times we could not tell, other than the standby topic always included.  We get up from our prayer and go about our affairs with little if any more thought of God than before.  And yet, we say we are asking our Heavenly Father to listen attentively, even when our own attitude is one of casual indifference.  Our prayers on such occasions have all the aspects of a "chore."...  So let us start our new prayer life by making our prayer a serious and enjoyable affair.

Once you are focused enough to recognize that you are in His presence, speak to Him.  Forget yourself, just like you do when you talk to a friend.  Forget all the standard and stereotyped phrases that yo have  picked up in times past.  Talk to Him as a son or daughter would speak to his or her wonderful, beloved father.  Open your whole heart.  Be yourself- simply and humbly- for He knows you as you really are, far better than you know yourself.  As you finish your conversation, don't close your mind as well as your prayer with Amen.  But as you say Amen, hold the thought in your mind that the Father is still there by your side.  Contemplate for a few moments in silence His reaction to your prayer.

This is not just tossing words around for good luck with the hope that they will bear fruit.  You are pleading your own case before your Maker, and you have none of than Jesus Christ to endorse your plea.  How great the joy, the thrill, the assurance that comes as a benediction to this kind of prayer.  Of all the joys that man receives in this world, perhaps none is greater than the joy that comes from such praying.  On occasion, the heart can swell with such joy that speech is impossible and strength leaves the body.  Such was the joy of Ammon when was so great "that he was full, yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth." (Alma 27:17)

A person may try to pray many different ways, but there is one kind of prayer that is entirely pleasing to our Heavenly Father.  That is prayer by the Spirit of God.  Prayer as guided by the Holy Ghost.  One of the greatest privileges we enjoy on this earth is personal prayer, to take it upon ourselves to address God, converse with Him and petition Him. To rely upon our own weak understanding and knowledge about what we should pray for, is not only foolish but also unnecessary.  A helper has been sent to us.  The more we use Him, the greater will be the value of our prayers.

How to Pray and Stay Awake Pt 2

"God will see you now.  You will be allowed five minutes.  This way, please".

What would you be willing to give for this privilege?  Think what it would man to stand in the presence of the exalted Being who comprehends and controls all things in the galaxies of creation.  Not only would you be permitted to stand before Him with your whole being responding to the glory of His presence, but you would also be permitted to talk with Him, face to face, expressing the desires of your heart

If we could only realize it, the privilege of praying, if performed as it can be, is nothing less than a personal conversation with God.  Unless we realize this, we are missing the greatest blessing of prayer.

Real and successful prayer is more than the use of the right words or phrases.  Real prayer springs from real connection to God.  And conversely, real connection to God is the product of real praying.  Formulas can be helpful as one learns, but can become a hindrance without ones heart becoming open to the divine Spirit of God.  Just because we start a little speech out with "Dear Father in Heaven" and finish up with "Amen" doesn't mean what we have been praying to our Father in Heaven.  God hears the words of our hearts, and not just the words of our lips. 

The words of Christ in Mark 11:24 & 1 John 3:22 "Whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" are uttered only to those "who keep His commandments and do those things pleasing in his sight."

To pray "unto God," there must be a definite and conscious approach to Him.  We must have a clear and vivid realization that God is right there in our presence.  that presence may sometimes be felt as His bending over us and listening as we pray.  Other times, we may sense that His presence not only feels the room but also fills our bodies.  As the Lord has declared, "The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God." (D&C 93:35).  Even on those occasions when we feel we are alone, we have His word that our feelings deceive us and should not be relied upon.  As Lehi discovered, "I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love." (2nephi 1:15).  "Eternally" means without beginning or end.  When we exercise faith in His word, we can know that we are never alone, but that the Heavenly Personage we are addressing is always near.  This is the basic law governing real prayer, the kind that is mighty prayer, the kind that is "pleasing unto your Lord, and [causes] the angels to rejoice over you....and is recorded in the book of the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world." (D&C 88:2).

How to Pray and Stay Awake

Came across a gem of a little book about prayer.  It was in one of those old dusty boxes in an old garage in an old house.  The version I have wasn't available online anywhere.  There is however a facsimile reprint on Amazon, and a hardcover version that was published in 1949.  I found truth in here, so I want to preserve it, and share it.  The book is by Max B Skousen, brother I believe of Cleon Skousen.  

Gata love those moments when you unintentionally pull out an old dusty box that no one has looked through in who knows how many years. Then notice an insignificant looking book out about prayer and find out it's something you really needed to read.....  Maybe it was just me but I thought that was cool.

So the next few posts will be some experts from the book.  The title is How to Pray and Stay Awake.  This has more than one meaning.  One reference could be the prayer most people offer before going to bed.  The title may suggest the content will help improve a persons prayers so that they will not find themselves dozing off while praying any longer.  Another meaning is possibly "how to pray".  How to really pray, not just talk to your pillow and wonder if what your doing is a waste of time.  Going along with that is the idea of "staying awake".  Not just holding off our nightly sleep, but spiritually remaining awakened.  The scriptures often refer to waking up (Alma 5:7).  Once a person begins to "awaken" unto God, there will be a need to remain awake and not drift or doze off.  So all of that may be implied by the title.

With that said here are some experts.  The back of the book says "One of the most loved books in the Church, thousands have testified that what is presented has been a turning point in their spiritual lives".  See what you think.

"Let us stop for a moment and think about ourselves and our praying.  So often we say our prayers but do not pray.  Was not Christ talking to us when he warned men not to pry as the hypocrites do? (Matthew 6:5).  Take for example the blessing of the food at our meals.  Is it being used as a signal to eat? Or as a benediction and thanksgiving?  When we pray in public , do we think too much about the audience and their reaction (Alma 33:8) and forget the divine person we are addressing?  We we say our silent prayers at night, have we sometimes realized that our minds have wandered?  And many times, after we have finished praying , does it seem as though we have just said so many words?

                      I often say my prayers, but do I really pray?
                      And do the wishes of my heart go with the words I say
                      I may as well kneel down and worship gods of stone
                     As offer to the living God a prayer of words alone.
                     A prayer uttered without faith, the Lord can never hear
                     Nor can he to those lips attend whose prayers are not sincere
                                                                                                       (Author unknown)
It is no wonder that we pray so little if a prayer is something to be taken care of rather than a blessing to be enjoyed."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Abide in the Vine

"John 15:1-6 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."

After the big wind storm in Centerville, I've been looking at some of the thing that remain intact.  Today on the walk with the dog I noticed a wasp nest.  The above tree with the nest is very tall, and sits right on the main windy corridor with nothing to block it from the brunt of the wind.  The house not 100 ft away lost most of it's roof, and shingles.  The church steeple maybe 100 ft away was left bare without it's metal siding.  Yet this wasp home remains, holding fast to the branch. This little spiraling structure built by small insects withstood 102 mile an hour winds for many hours.  It endured the storm by holding to the branch.  Now I'm not a big fan of wasps but I can't deny the intelligence of their nest.  

By contrast the neighbors roof did not.  Nor did MANY many trees.  They were all piled up in the parking lot of the city park.  They were gathered by men, cast forth and will likely be burned or sent to the dump.

What we build upon, and what we hold to, what we abide in is truly one of those important things to consider and get right.  If a wasps nest can withstand such a violent storm..... by holding fast to a branch....whereas hundreds of branches are literally being cast aside to be burned.   It all just makes me think.  What vine do we hold to? 

What does it mean to "abide in Christ"?  To abide in His love?  The scripture above teaches that if we don't abide in Him we are like the branches in the second set of pictures.  They as everyone in the community already knows will be cast off, and sent to be burned, or recycled.  In fact most wish it would happen faster already. 

I like the parable.  What branch can produce fruit except it abide in the vine?  If you cut off the branch of a fruit tree it obviously cannot grow an apple at the bud.  It needs to be connected to the trunk.   

What beautiful fruit we can produce if we abide in Christ.  But a branch cannot bear fruit of itself.  Neither can we.  We must get connected to, and abide in Christ.  Not just be connected to an organization, but deeply connected to and abiding in something living.  An actual being who lived on earth, died, and is now resurrected.  A being of perfect love, a being of a joyous countenance who glorifies the Father by His existence.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Centerville, Utah yesterday (Dec 1st) had one of the worst windstorms on record.  Winds at around 9am Thursday were measured at 102 miles an hour.   My brother and I went out in the wind to see the neighborhood and check on things.  We had to come back a few times because it was dangerous and became incredibly hard to walk against the wind.

Many houses had a lot of damage.  Lots of downed trees.  Roofs were damaged, power was out, windows were breaking, and semi trucks were being blown over.  Many intersections had traffic lights ripped off the poles and garbage cans were blowing everywhere.  I drove around afterwords and took some pictures of the downed trees.  Some of them were 50+ year old trees.  Some were 70+ feet high.

Something caught my eye as I looked at the majority of the downed trees.  One tree was 70 feet tall, but only had a root system 3 feet deep.  Most of the trees I saw had a root system less than 3 feet although the tree itself was anywhere from 10-70 feet.

If you've read any of the posts lately on the blog, I've been watching the symbols and occurrences in my daily life and noticing the truths they contain.   They have all been meaningful to me.  God is more willing to speak than I have been able to hear.  But I'm trying to change that.  The tree roots especially caught my eye and ear as containing truths about life.

I asked myself why the root system of a 70 foot tree would only be 3 feet deep.  I'm no arborist, but it seems to me that the roots do not grow any deeper because they were not required to.  Enough nourishment was available in shallower ground for the tree's typical needs.  Especially in places where humans provide the trees with lots of water with things like sprinklers.  Whereas in other areas trees would have to rely on more intermittent rain and the nutrients very deep roots provide.  Many many of the downed trees were in places where it was obvious they had received a lot of sprinkler water.  If there is always water near the surface of the ground, many kinds of trees it seems do not grow a deep root system.

Here are some pictures.  Notice the depth (or lack of) of the root systems of even the large and old trees).  Many root systems grow "out" instead of "deeper". 

As exciting as it was to watch the storm from inside it was also fun to venture out in it and experience what felt like the wind tunnel at the indoor skydiving place in Ogden.  

I wondered to my self: How much like the trees are people?  Unless they are required to dig deep with their own roots, their own testimony, their own understanding of life, God and especially the Gospel.....will their roots go deep?  Or will they just tend to be shallow because they are not required, and in some cases not invited to do anything else?   

It is possible to go beyond what is typical.  We're told there is much more available than what people are usually willing to receive.  So although it's not required, it may be extremely beneficial to do so. The scriptures invite this kind of thing.  

As I thought about all this more truths started to dawn on me.  It would be a favor from God for him to provide experiences, or put us in a place that causes or provides the necessity for roots to grow deep.  It may be more difficult, seem unnecessary, but it will in fact allow survival from the storms.  Whether or not we are in a season of life that necessitates root growth, we can chose to do so anyway.  

The opposite would be settling for a shallow understanding of God and the Gospel.  Just relying on the sprinklers and "top down" water.   Today I'm more grateful for the things in my life that have required me to dig deep and dig as far as I was able to find nutrients.   I remember the parable Christ told about the man who built his house upon a rock, vs the man who built on sand.  The one "dug deep" (Luke 6:48) and laid the foundation deep.  Also the parable of the seeds.  Some seeds falling on good ground, being nourished, taking root, and growing deep. 

Trying to walk against the terrible wind yesterday was meaningful to me.  It was more than just phenomena in mother nature.  It also represented the internal battles we all often face.  I'm no exception.  None of us are immune.   I know what it feels like physically, and what it's like internally.  

We know that after the storm comes the blessings though.  It has been that way with me.  I'm grateful for a God who knows enough to not just let me stay in the sprinkler water and slight breeze. But also orchestrates experiences and things in my life that require my own roots to find depth.  

Thanks be to God.