Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Button Button Who's Wearing Their Button?

Now, the button-vested Mormons had Sunday clothes with buttons.   
The plain-vested Mormons had none upon thars.
Those buttons weren't so big. They were really so small. 
You might think such a thing wouldn't matter at all.

Yesterday at Church there was going to be a "big" announcement. The whole ward was abuzz about if for a week or so prior. Lots of people wondered if there would be a ward boundary change or something of that nature. It didn't end up being that. 

Come Sunday during sacrament meeting we were told in 3rd hour there would be this big announcement. There would be no primary, no nursery, everyone would meet in the chapel for this special meeting. When the much anticipated meeting happened, the bishopric began by presenting this plan for unity for the ward. A giant purple box wrapped as a gift was brought to the front of the room.  We were told the color symbolized God, and inside was a gift.  It contained 2 chalices that contained buttons, pic of button below.  I was in the foyer so didn't see the box or chalices myself but two ward members described it for me. (I did get a button handed out to me).

Each member of the bishopric spoke, they based all their comments on an article from a recent ensign issue titled "When doubts arise" (link) written by an Adam Kotter.  It got emotional for each of the speakers as they spoke.  They were all sincere, and genuinely caring.

The Bishop first spoke about doubts, and how apparently there are many living my area who are full of them, and many with questions about churchy things which apparently caused enough concern that the bishopric called this special meeting to address it. The talks referenced internet threats such as online bloggers, apostate writers, and intellectuals that are causing people to doubt the Church.  He said they as a bishopric wanted to combat this. So they presented this plan for unity for the ward.

The idea was presented using the story from Exodus chapter 12 of putting the lamb's blood on the door posts of the ancient Israelite's homes.  The congregation was given little buttons or wearable pins which we were told needed to be an external sign (were were told was like the lamb's blood from exodus) of our commitment to "choose" to follow and trust the church leaders, follow the Prophet, to choose faith and not doubt, to choose for ourselves to stay strong in the Church regardless of what others are saying. We (the members of the ward) were told to wear the pin every Sunday for the rest of the year as an outward sign of these beliefs.  Indicating that we "choose" to do those things.

The meeting concluded by relating the wearing of the pin to the different groups of people from Lehi's vision of the tree of life in the Book of Mormon. If you are not familiar with that vision there were some people in the vision who didn't care to seek or follow the iron rod which led to the Tree of Life.  That group was related to those in the ward who wouldn't care about wearing the pin, and would never even consider wearing it. Then there were the other groups in Lehi's vision who caught hold of the iron rod but later fell away. That group was likened to those in the ward who would wear the pin for a week or two but would then forget and probably lose it. Then the group in Lehi's vision who held fast to the rod and endured to the end were likened to those who would wear the pin valiantly. Supporting this outward sign of .... what was it?  Oh yes, "choosing" to trust the leaders, retain faith and not give heed to doubters, the internet, or the big bad blogland.  Which I suppose would include me, oddly enough.  I am about as non dangerous a person as they come, but I suppose that depends on the amount of religious fear you carry.

The bishop encouraged the ward by quoting from the ensign article:
“When faced with a trial of faith—whatever you do, don’t step away from the Church! Distancing yourself from the kingdom of God during a trial of faith is like leaving the safety of a secure storm cellar just as the tornado comes into view.”

Much of this special meeting troubled me.  It's the trends, beliefs, teachings and cultural pollution that has substituted and replaced the Gospel that's really concerning.  People are often just innocently following what they are taught.  And when we are taught garbage the cultural blinders grow thicker and thicker rather than fall from our collective eyes.  I don't want to see that happen, but it's happening.

That statement from the Ensign article about leaving the storm cellar has an indirect message that stands out.  It implies that safety lies in your attachment to a corporate institution which has as one of it's arms, the religion called the LDS church.  That's false.  We should repent of such beliefs because they are false and not supported by scripture.

Just last month the primary children were taught there is safety in following the President of the Church who we call a prophet.  Repeated again by the stake presidency in this months newsletter, and repeated as often ore more than any other single doctrine in the Church (in my experience). The Church office building, the leaders, chapels, PR spokespeople, the magazines, the Mormon messages, trademarks, and corporate entity are not the same thing as the Gospel.  The distinction is being lost.  They are no storm shelter in my view.  And they are certainly not the same thing as the Kingdom of God.  Thank goodness the Kingdom of God is not a corporation that can be sued and is subject to all sorts of pressures of this fallen world.

The kingdom of God is not run by business men and does not have a "for profit" arm that builds billion dollar shopping malls and offers zero transparency to those who donate faithfully.  Frankly I think we should step away from those things.  The scriptures say as much because those things are Babylon, and scriptures teach to flee Babylon.  Zions bank in no way gets us closer to Zion does it?  Or is that bank more Zion-like due to it's name?  And why does the church have a PR spokesperson anyway?  Isn't a prophet a spokesman?  I never sustained a spokesmen for the spokesmen.  Would the PR spokesmen's words be considered God's word since he's speaking for God's church?  I digress....  

The official Guide to the Scriptures says "The LDS church is the Kingdom of God on the earth" and cites D&C 65 as it's source.  The last century of Church leaders were raised with this idea as true beyond question.  So it just gets repeated, and repeated enough that now it's accepted as common sense.  The next generation of leaders is also carrying this tradition on in all the manuals.  Although the idea has spread far and wide, the scriptural evidence for it is non existent. Read D&C 65 yourself and see if you think the scripture equates the LDS church with the Kingdom of God.  It simply doesn't.  The only other evidence for the belief is, well, tradition.  Stuff like that, and "the prophet/Church can't lead you astray" and dwindling educational material are forming a machine churning out members who are scripturally illiterate, who do not even claim to understand any Church's history, and who are taught by their leaders to make an oath like covenant to sustain (follow) the current Church's President (Elder Nelson Oct Conference 2014).  Dr. Seuss had a fitting story that I'm reminded of:

Then, quickly, Sylvester McMonkey McBean
Put together a very peculiar machine.

And he said, “You want stars like a Star-Belly Sneetch? 

My friends, you can have them for three dollars each!”  

“Just pay me your money and hop right aboard!”

So they clambered inside. Then the big machine roared.

And it klonked. And it bonked. And it jerked. And it berked.

And it bopped them about. But the thing really worked!

When the Plain-Belly Sneetches popped out, they had stars!

They actually did. They had stars upon thars! Then they yelled at the ones who had stars at the start,
“We’re still the best Sneetches and they are the worst.

Is unity really unity if it's only skin deep and only due to the corporate structure?  That has the appearance of unity but is it?

continued in part 2...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

AutoPay Tithing

In case you wanted tithing to come out of your bank account like any other bill does on auto bill pay, now you can pay your LDS tithing online!   

Auto pay is one of those slick ideas that the business world adopted that I'm sure has made them billions.  It's an extremely convenient way to get money out of people's pockets without them noticing.  I can only wonder the money that has left people's accounts simply because it was on auto pay.  Had they been required to take some action, or make a decision, they may have canceled or taken any number of other directions than allow the auto pay to deduct.     

Now it seems religion is jumping in on this modern convenience.  Donations can be magically deducted from your bank account without you even knowing it. Think of the blessings!  (I'm being sarcastic).  Now you can automate future obedience.  Haha.  

Where does your money go?  Who cares! It's on autopay!  What about those in need?  Who cares, it's on autopay, I never liked feeling sad for them anyway (more sarcasm).  I can rest easy, my obedience is on auto pay.  Never-mind the obscene fine print on the tithing form, never mind the complete lack of transparency despite God's instructions to provide it, your obedience will land you right in the celestial kingdom.  We can rest assured our leaders have us in good hands.    

Come one, come all, let us set up tithing auto pay, and pay the Lord with as little thought and care as possible.  I'm poking fun at this, because I think it's interesting.  

Here's the link on how to do it.  http://mormonlifehacker.com/pay-your-tithing-online/ 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

When God makes you wait

This is a good piece on waiting for God. By Maya L. Ralston

Jesus could have come and healed Lazarus when he was still alive.
Instead, He waited to raise him from the dead when he was already in his grave.
God could have made David become king the day after he was anointed.
Instead, He waited 15 years to rise to the throne, many of those years spent fearing for his life, hiding out and running away from his own father-in-law.
God could have spoken to Moses in the desert about sending him to help free His people from slavery 40 days after he ran away from Egypt.
Instead, He made him wait for 40 long years.
God could have gotten Joseph out of prison one year after he was sentenced there.
Instead, he was stuck in that dungeon for 10 years before he was finally set free.
God could have given Abraham the son He promised him when he was still a young man.
Instead, He waited until he was 100 years old and because of physical reasons would have a more difficult time conceiving at that age.
God could have answered prayers and met the needs of these men of God much quicker, but He didn’t.
He made them wait instead.
And He often makes us do the same.
He makes us wait for healing to come after we’ve been praying for years and there is no sign of recovery.
He makes us wait to fulfill His call in our lives after He puts the desire and passion in our hearts to serve Him in a certain way.
He makes us wait to give us the desires of our hearts, whether it’s a baby, a spouse, or a new job.
He makes us wait for direction when we are stuck at a dead end and we don’t know where to go or what to do.
He could answer that same prayer that you’ve been praying for years every night in a millisecond.
That same prayer that has been bringing you to tears.
That same prayer that the longer that it goes unanswered, the more it makes you question whether He even hears.
He kept Moses in a desert for 40 years.
Joseph in a prison cell for 10 years.
Abraham without a child for 100 years.
David on the run for 15 years.
And maybe He is keeping you right where you’re at for the same reason He kept these men for so many years: to build your faith.
To build your faith in a dungeon cell, during the valley in your life where it’s too dark to see and too hard to believe.
To build your dependence on Him when you are barren and empty to see if He is truly all you desire and all you need.
To see how well you will trust and serve Him when you are still stuck in the background somewhere, doing seemingly nothing too significant for Him.
To build your trust in Him when the storm keeps raging, the battle keeps going and breakthrough and victory doesn’t seem near.
See… sometimes the waiting period of our lives is the most important time in our life.
It is during this period when nothing seems to be happening, when prayers seem to go unanswered, when God seems so far away that the most spiritual growth takes place in our lives. That we learn to become more like Him.
It is during this time that we build spiritual “muscle”.
That we grow in faith.
That we learn to only depend on Him.
What are you waiting for today?
What longing do you have that seems so far from ever being fulfilled?
What prayer do you keep on praying that seems to never reach God’s ears?
I want to remind you that God is not deaf to your prayers.
He is not blind to your constant tears, to your desires, and to your needs.
IF He is making you wait, there is a very good reason for it.
If He is telling you “no” today, maybe it’s because He has a better “yes” waiting for you tomorrow.
If He is keeping you in the same place you’ve always been today, maybe it’s because He’s helping build your faith before you enter your Promised Land tomorrow.
If He is not healing you or bringing you victory today, maybe it’s because you will have a greater testimony when He waits to help you be an overcomer tomorrow.
Wherever you are at today know that God is right beside you and that there is a purpose for you. Even if that purpose is to wait.
Don’t give up just because you don’t see anything happening today.
Maybe there is nothing physically happening that your eyes can see but there is definitely something happening in the spiritual realm as you learn to rely on Christ.
Don’t allow your waiting period to make you hopeless about what tomorrow will bring.
Instead, let it build your faith and give you even greater hope for what God has prepared for you.
He made some of the greatest men of faith wait.
Don’t be discouraged if He makes you wait as well.
He will come through for you, just like He came through for them.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” – Psalm 27:14