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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

299: STRANGE NOTIONS AND FALSE SPIRITS

Before I go to bed at night, I open our front door and let our dog out. If I am not careful while the door is open,  flying insects will see our inside house lights and immediately fly in from the darkness and into our home. Bugs are attracted to light. We prefer not to have bugs flying freely in our home, so I am really careful to not keep our door open when it is dark outside... (plus we try and keep the heat inside the home and not escape out into the cold.)












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Whenever there is an increase in spiritual manifestations, there is always an increase in both true and false spiritual phenomena. When you have more light, it is usually accompanied by more darkness. You do not get one without the other. All of us will sooner or later be confronted by false spirits and/or be invited to participate in gatherings where they are present. Many amongst us are going to be seduced by false spirits and be deceived. Others will be able to discern between the two and avoid the deception. False spirits abound all around us. Those who want to lead others, have an audience or following can easily be misled. False spirits can prop up our egos and feed our pride... which eventually will lead to mischief and ultimately darkness.

These things are all around us. But this is how it should be.

The false spirits need to be unleashed. They need to be exposed. We have a choice to either withdraw from it, or join the deception. In the process, there will be some ugliness. Zion can not happen until those false spirits have been identified and weeded out from the community.

Ambition in spiritual gifts leads to acceptance of evil influences.

I recently read the following. "In Kirtland, new converts who were overzealous to participate in the new heavenly manifestations coming as a result of Joseph Smith's claims, opened themselves up to receiving influences they could not understand, and did not test for truthfulness. They were so delighted to have any kind of experience, they trusted anything "spiritual" was from God. As a result, there were many undignified things, degrading conduct, foolish behavior and evil influences which crept in among the saints. Joseph received a revelation in May 1831 concerning this troubling development. In it the Lord cautioned there were "many false spirits deceiving the world."  That Satan wanted to overthrow what the Lord was doing. The presence of hypocrites and of people harboring secret sins and abominations caused false claims to be accepted. It is required for all people to proceed in truth and in righteousness if they are going to avoid deception. Meaning that unrepentant and unforgiven men will not be able to distinguish between a true and a false spirit. Just because you have a "spiritual experience" you cannot trust it will invariably be from God."  (Read D&C 50: 1-9). As part of the same problem in Kirtland, in September of the previous year, Hiram Page wanted to be like Joseph, and was able to attract a deceiving spirit to communicate with him through a seer stone. But the commandments he received were designed to lead him into error.

Here is a quote from History of the Church concerning a branch of early saints in Kirtland, 1831. 

"The branch of the Church in this part of the Lord's vineyard, which had increased to nearly one hundred members, were striving to do the will of God, so far as they knew it, though some strange notions and false spirits had crept in among them. With a little caution and some wisdom, I soon assisted the brethren and sisters to overcome them." (HC 1:146)



How do we discern between strange notions and correct ones.. between false and true spirits?

Here is some guidance I read. "All spiritual gifts, including distinguishing between true and false spirits, requires the Holy Ghost, given through obedience to the truth, which allows a person to distinguish between truth and error.  The truth is like light, and when you follow the light of truth it grows inside you until you have a "perfect day" in which there is no more darkness, but everything is illuminated by the light of the spirit within you."

But this only comes as a result of repenting of all sin. Truth will not leave you confused, but will enlighten your understanding.

From this you can see how necessary it is for each of us to continually repent, conduct our lives in conformity with such truth as you presently understand, and avoid deliberate wrongdoing in order to be able to distinguish between a true and a false spirit. You must attract light. It is attracted by obedience to such light as you already have. When you proceed forward using the light you already possess to attract more light it will grow in one, consistent and truthful manner from a lesser to a greater light. All of it conforming to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Do not think all spiritual experiences can be trusted. There is no difference between the activities of deceiving spirits today and those in Kirtland, as well as those in the New Testament times. If you follow the Lord you must still test the spirits and only follow those which point to Christ. Even Joseph Smith had to ask God about some of the phenomena going on in Kirtland before he knew which were of God and which were deceiving.

And lastly... As far as gathering, there is no reason to gather to fail again. Without appropriate preparation of people beforehand, angels will not gather them in. Angels do the gathering, not men. Not even men with good intentions. Zeal and haste will prevent Zion from coming and will destroy it if it's here.

 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

298: WILLING TO MOURN, COMFORT, AND BEAR ONE ANOTHER'S BURDENS.

In Mosiah 18, we read the simple requirements for baptism. Alma mentions five things that are needed before entering the waters of baptism. These five things are: 
  • The desire to come into the fold of God and to be called his people.
  • Be willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.
  • Be willing to mourn with those that mourn.
  • Comfort those that stand in need of comfort.
  • Stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death.
Today, before anyone is baptized in the Church, the baptismal candidate needs to answer the following questions in a formal interview. There seems to be alot more requirements today than there were in the days of Alma. The bar has been raised. :) Here are a few of the questions asked in the interview:
  • Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father? 
  • Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world?
  • Do you believe the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? 
  • Do you believe that Thomas S Monson is a prophet of God? What does this mean to you?
  • What does it mean to you to repent? 
  • Do you feel that you have repented of your past transgressions?
  • Have you ever committed a serious crime? 
  • If so, are you now on probation or parole? 
  • Have you ever participated in an abortion?
  • Have you ever participated in a homosexual relationship?
  • Are you willing to obey the law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relationship outside the bonds of a legal marriage between a man and a woman?
  • Are you willing to obey the law of tithing?
  • Are you willing to obey the Word of Wisdom?
  • Are you willing to obey the Sabbath day, including partaking of the sacrament weekly and rendering service to fellow members?
  • When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?
If the above questions are not answered correctly, I don't think the candidate can be baptized even though they could have passed Alma's requirements. On the other hand, I wish today we were asked to do some of the things that people in the Book of Mormon covenanted to do before being baptized. ...

The people at the Waters of Mormon covenanted to be true disciples of Christ. They promised to mourn with those who mourn, and comfort others in need of comfort. They promised to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all places. I think our wards and stakes would be more Zion-like if we actually bore one another's burdens, mourned with those who mourn, comforted those who need comfort.
 
I know alot of people who have great burdens, who mourn, who need to be comforted. This week was the first year anniversary of the passing of my friend's 11 year old son. His son died unexpectedly at home a year ago on Sunday. This past year has been a difficult year for him and his wife.  A couple of days ago, a father of 7 who lives in our neighborhood died after a long battle with cancer.  I wish I knew how to mourn with them, or even know what to say or do for them. I recently watched a video that probably most of you have already seen. It shows how we really lack empathy for others. While we might have some sympathy, we lack empathy. We lack knowing how to truly mourn, comfort and bear one another's burden.
 

On a positive note, just as we should mourn with those who mourn, In Romans 12:15, it says that we should also rejoice with those who rejoice.
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Sidenote:
I have been studying a little about Early Christianity and thought this was interesting.

In Early Christianity, as a follower of Christ, the person was baptized and immediately was anointed with oil. This would then give the recipient access to the Spirit. The person had a portion of the Spirit before the baptism, but after receiving the annointing you have the Spirit in greater abundance.  This Christian practice of anointing after baptism was called chrismation. In chrismation, they would anoint the person's forehead with the holy name, "that they might with open face behold glory of the Lord.” 

The chrismation was a type of “confirmation”. They didn't have confirmation like we do today and confirm someone a member of the Church. Instead, the early Christians performed the chrismation ceremony where the name of Christ was symbolically written on their forehead.

Since that time, this ritual has been modified and changed. What the Catholics do today is they sprinkle a baby with water, which is what baptism has turned into for them, they then take holy oil and make a little cross on the baby's forehead.

Also, early Christian baptisms took place at sunrise, which they could be reborn like the sun and in some regions could only be performed at Easter. Also, Baptism in early Christianity was not for infants or young children, but for adults.

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Unrelated Sidenote:
Here are a few photos from an early morning hike on the 8th of November, 2014.
 
In the first photo, after ascending over a small hill, I was surprised to see hundreds of sheep. They were too numerous to count. I have never seen anything like it. I sat and watched them. Some were lying down, and others were on their feet. However, it seemed like they were all asleep because they were so still, almost frozen in place.  It  wasn't until the after the sun rose over the mountain and the sunlight descended down on them that they awoke, rose and began moving around grazing on the grass.  
A field of hundreds of sheep just before sunrise.
 
First sunlight hitting the tops of the mountains with the full moon still visible in the sky in the upper right.

Sunrise. The most sacred and peaceful time of the day.
 
Natural twin springs coming directly out of the mountain.








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In closing: I wanted to share this quote that I really like. It is from a speech given at the International Interreligious Colloquium at the Vatican City by Pres. Henry Eyring:
 
"Where there is selfishness, natural differences of men and women often divide. Where there is unselfishness, differences become complementary and provide opportunities to help and build each other. Spouses and family members can lift each other and ascend together if they care more about the interests of the other than their own interests."
 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

297: WICKED, PERVERSE, AND STIFFNECKED.


Wicked, Perverse, and Stiffnecked are three adjectives that Moroni uses to describe those who build up churches to get gain. (Mormon 8:33) "O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain?"

To get gain means to obtain a profit. It is the act of acquiring, of building up, of increasing in size.  We can ask ourselves, who exactly is Moroni calling wicked, perverse, and stiffnecked?   He said "I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing." Mormon 8:35.  Is Moroni  talking about the Catholics? the Protestants? or us Latter-day Saints? Moroni knew exactly which Church it was. Christ showed Moroni who they were. Did he see us?

But surely, it can't be the LDS Church. We are the Lord's Church. Is it okay that we build other buildings to get gain, after all..they aren't churches we are buildng. Do we really think it is pleasing to the Lord that we build high rise buildings, malls, condos, office complexes, housing developments for us to own, operate and get gain?  Can we decorate and beautify Zion with profit making buildings of Babylon? and make money in the process? Are these the principles that Zion is built on?

Below are three condominium projects built up by the Church around Temple Square.  The Regent (left), 99 West (middle) and Richards Court (right).



I recently took a tour of 99 West, the upscale highrise pictured above in the midde. This 30 story condomium tower sits on the southwest corner of Temple Square and was built a few years ago. I asked the real estate agent how many of these condos have now been sold. She said that only 57% of the building has been sold or is under contact. Almost half of the building still sits vacant. Not a good sign that things are going well.

The units are selling upward to a million dollars each to over three million. The price of the condos per square foot is a little under $1,000.00 after everything is said and done. That is 10x the average selling price per square footage in Salt Lake. Most homes sell for about 100 dollars per square foot. I asked her how can the Church justify selling property for such a jacked up price? She said it is because of the view of the Temple. So in other words because of the Temple we can sell property at higher prices and get gain. Does that fall into the category that Moroni was referrring to in Mormon 8?

These condos are described as "a home where enduring architecture and mastercrafted finishes embody your style . . . your refined taste. A place where you awake to breathtaking views and fall asleep to soothing sunsets. Your home at City Creek offers a new approach to life simplified . . . living close to everything you love to do. City Creek provides a new style of urban living in Salt Lake City, featuring a cosmopolitan atmosphere in three new residential towers."

LINK to the website.

Below is a chart of 99 West Building which shows the selling price of each condo. The condos for sell are shown in the white boxes and in the blue boxes. The green boxes are the condos that have already been sold. In case anyone is interested, a 3 bedroom, 3076 square foot unfinished condo on the top floor is still available. The asking price is 3,126,000.00.
 
 
I heard from an inside source that when these condo projects were first being built by the Church that tithing records were used to find those members who could most likely afford to buy.  Marketing material was then sent to the top tithe paying members of the Church. I hope that is not true that personal tithing information is available for marketing purposes.
 
Sidenote: In case you aren't in the market to buy real estate and just want to rent... the Church also owns and rents out apartments near the Temple. If you can afford paying 1,899.00 a month for a one bedroom, one bath apartment that is a little over 1000 square feet than City Creek Landing Apartments would be perfect for you. Here are a few photos of one of the apartments.   I am surprised there are some willing to pay close to 2,000.00 for a one bedroom, one bath apartment.
 
 

We would do well to read the scriptures and see if we fit any of the scenarios that the Book of Mormon prophets warn us about. There is a recurring theme found all through the Book of Mormon that warns us to not build up to get gain. We read it in the books of Nephi, Ether, Helaman, and 4 Nephi. Here are a few examples:

"Therefore they began to set their hearts upon their riches; yea, they began to seek to get gain that they might be lifted up one above another. Hel. 6:17

"And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ." 4 Ne. 1:26

"And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God." 2 Ne. 27:16

"And they were exceedingly industrious, and they did buy and sell and traffic one with another, that they might get gain." Ether 10:22

"But behold, it is to get gain, to be praised of men, yea, and that ye might get gold and silver. And ye have set your hearts upon the riches and the vain things of this world." Hel. 7:21

 "He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion."  2 Ne. 26:29

I share these things not to be critical but to show how far we are from becoming a Zion Society. There is a tremendous gulf between Zion, and what is required and who we are as a people today.

And to quote a friend, "We speak of Zion while marketing Babylon. We ask "what will sell" before we undertake any project. We study the trends of the fallen, wicked and perverse in order to adapt our faith, our words, and our conversations to appeal to Babylon. The social statistics of Latter-day Saints run about 7 years behind the larger population. We're all headed to hell, but console ourselves that we remain "peculiar" because we are slower in our descent than the larger population. It never occurs to us that a complete break will be needed."


Addendum: Here is a LINK to an interesting news story.

"The Vatican plans to build showers for the homeless under the sweeping white colonnade of St. Peter’s Square in Rome. It’s an unconventional move, even for a pope who constantly preaches that more should be done to help the poor. It also could rankle traditionalists as the homeless line up to wash beneath the extravagant apostolic apartments."

This would be a great idea for the LDS Church to consider doing  at the City Creek Center across from the Salt Lake Temple.