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Sunday, June 25, 2017

413: DECREASING IN LIGHT

This week was the summer solstice. Few observe these dates or recognize the significance. For those who don't know, the sun hit it's highest point in the heavens giving us the most direct and strongest sunlight for us in the Northern Hemisphere. Starting after the summer solstice, our days will begin to shorted as we decrease in the amount of sunlight we receive until the sun returns back after the Winter Solstice. Our nights will now be longer and days shorter as we receive less and less sunlight. In our personal life, much like the ebbs and flows of sun solstices which give us our seasons throughout the year, we are either increasing or decreasing in the amount of light and knowledge we are receiving. Religious organizations also are either increasing in light (receiving revelation from God) or decreasing in light (apostatizing from truth, relying on the arm of flesh). This year is the 500th year commemoration of Protestant Reformation which is marked by Martin Luther's criticism of the powerful and influential Catholic Church. Other's followed as their eye were opened to how far the Catholic Church had strayed. It is interesting to see the parallels today that other worldwide Church Institutions seems to be mirroring the Catholic Church. Below is Part 6 in a series of videos commemorating the 500 year anniversary of  Protestant Reformation.


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Sidenote:

Here are few photos from a morning hike this week in observance of the summer solstice.












Sunday, June 18, 2017

412: A FATHER'S DAY GIFT

Photo taken today on Father's Day in front of our home.  I recognize it as a Father's Day gift from a Father to a son.

"God talks to us through all kinds of things. There are so many things in nature if you’ll just observe it, if you’ll just let it in. God is speaking to all of us, more or less, all of the time. And we determine how much of that we’re willing to see, to listen to, to let in. . Every one of us has some direct linkage to God. It’s called a gift. Every one of us has some unique gift as a way that God talks to us. Let it in. Be sensitive to it."



Friday, June 16, 2017

411: OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN

God is in control of everything. He is our Father. It is His work and His timing in how the work currently underway proceeds. We would do well to have faith in Him.... and not only do our part, but try not to get in His way.

This past week I was reminded that the Lord has a lot to teach us. Yet, how often we think we already have the answers and/or we stop asking questions. So, why would the Lord want to come teach us if we don't want to learn or too prideful to be corrected if we are in error.. The truth is, we really don’t know very much, and what we think we know is probably messed up. Until He comes again to teach us, we should be found loving one another and have charity for each other.

This upcoming Sunday is Father's Day. How many of us only pay tribute to our earthly father? May I suggest that each of us let our Father in Heaven know of our love from Him.
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Sidenote:



 A few months ago I watched a documentary called Gleason.  It is about the professional football player Steve Gleason who was a defensive back for the New Orleans Saints. He was diagnosed with ALS,(Lou Gehrig's Disease.) and this documentary was created by him to be a video diary for his unborn son. If you have not seen it yet.. I think it is a great movie to watch this weekend as we pay tribute to Fathers.

Here is the trailer:





Here are a few great quotes from the movie:

"It is not how we act when thing are great, but how do we act when things are difficult."

"I am going to be around son until you are able to stand on your own.

"That is what Dads do.. they pass the best of themselves to their kids."

"That is all that matters. is me passing myself to you."


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HAPPY FATHERS DAY!

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One more thing... in addition to the above recommendation to watch this weekend.. I highly recommend reading the below blogpost:
INSTITUTIONAL SHELL SHOCK: The Lost Art of Disagreement:

http://www.followthesavior.info/2017/06/071-institutional-shell-shock-lost-art.html


Coming from a religious institution that tightly controls almost all facets of one’s life, there is little room or tolerance for disagreement or differences of opinion of any kind. In such settings, if any such differences arise, they are quickly swept under the rug and settled by a deference to an authority figure who makes a judgment call. Additionally, since decisions come from the top down, by the time the layperson could possibly have a say in the matter, "the thinking has already been done”. This system works well to keep things neat and tidy and moving forward, and the ends are more important than the means. Thus, in such institutions there is little chance to openly discuss and debate issues of real importance, unless you sit in the inner circle at the top of the hierarchy or find yourself perching on one of its mid-level echelons. Instead of a reliance on the spirit, exercising persuasion, unfeigned love, and gentleness, and viewing one another as equals, such institutions resort to a reliance on authority, rules and handbooks, knowledge, history/tradition, seniority, "unwritten orders of things", myths, and all sorts of rubrics to sort things out. It is much easier to automatize the process of decision-making, rather than to muck it up with the personalities, problems, weaknesses, opinions, and egos of real people. In such polished institutions, disagreements and differences of opinion are therefore viewed as “bad”, “contentious”, or “of the devil”, and in violation of the "unwritten order of things." If you speak up, you are at risk of being “out of line with the brethren,” which can place your very own salvation in jeopardy.


When a person exits from such a system, they often carry the institutional baggage and scars gained from their experiences therein. For example, in a new found environment, where choices do actually need to be made andopportunities for disagreement do arise, how does one share their deeply held opinions on topics of religion with another person and work through differences in point of view without deferring to an authority figure, rules and handbooks, history/tradition, etc? Or, if presented with an opinion that differs from your own, how do you maneuver through the discussion without automatically labeling such a person as “contentious”, “bad”, and “of thedevil”, or "out of line with the brethren", or violating some sort of "unwritten order of things"? Have our years inside such institutions atrophied these kinds of skills and abilities to the point where we no longer posses them, if we ever possessed them in the first place?


On the one hand, have we lost the art of how to respectfully disagree with one another and still come away as friends, even if we disagree? Do we know how to put forward an argument for our point of view in a way that is non-combative, allows room for discussion, and is more of an invitation to dialogue? And then do we know how to listen, consider, evaluate, persuade, reflect, ask questions, and respond in a sincere and respectful manner? An don the other hand, are we programmed to throw down the field flags of “contention”, “jarring”, and “strife” as soon as someone offers an opinion that differs from our own, cutting off the discussion and perhaps more significantly, cutting off the warm hand of friendship? Do we take disagreements personally, viewing them as a personal attack on our beliefs and who we are?


As individuals trying to work together towards real unity, does that mean we simply sit around smiling at one another and agree with every idea that comes out of every person's mouth when inside we might have significant disagreement? Is that charity or is that a lazy way to create a sort of false unity, or does it depend on the situation? Or, do we work towards true unity by hearing one another out, really listening and trying to understand, asking questions, and then exchanging our own point of view in a loving, kind, and open way that allows for dialogue and discussion? Can we be unified if we don't agree on every topic? Many believe that in an effort to keep the peace and “avoid contention”, the best thing to do is to simply put their head in the sand and wait for the gray clouds of possible contention to float on by. However, are opportunities for greater unity lost when we do this? Are opportunities for greater unity also lost when we dominate in conversation or use leverage to silence another's opinion, refusing to be persuaded or consider another point of view?


Are all of these perhaps some of the symptoms and manifestations of institutional shell shock that we must cure from ourselves if we are to rise above our current state and become one?


There is a scripture in the Doctrine & Covenants that describes why, in part, the early saints failed in their efforts for Zion (D&C 101:6): “Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.” What really are these attributes manifested by the early saints? How do we know if we are falling into the same patterns? Here are some definitions from the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary:


Contention:
1. Strife; struggle; a violent effort to obtain something, or to resist a person, claim or injury; contest; quarrel.
2. Strife in words or debate; quarrel; angry contest; controversy.


Jar (as in jarrings):
1. To strike together with a short rattle or tremulous sound; to strike untunably or harshly; to strike discordantly; asa jarring sound.
2. To clash; to interfere; to act in opposition; to be inconsistent.
3. To quarrel; to dispute; to clash in words.


Envy (as in envyings):
1. To feel uneasiness, mortification or discontent, at the sight of superior excellence, reputation or happiness enjoyed by another; to repine at another's prosperity; to fret or grieve one's self at the real or supposed superiority of another, and to hate him on that account.
2. Rivalry; competition.
3. Malice; malignity.
4. Public odium; ill repute; invidiousness.


Strife:
1. Exertion or contention for superiority; contest of emulation, either by intellectual or physical efforts.
2. Contention in anger or enmity; contest; struggle for victory; quarrel or war.


To me, collectively, these words describe an open, often public, vitriolic, mean-spirited, angry, personal, caustic, biting, ferocious interchange or quarrel that rises above the level of a disagreement or a difference of opinion.

In my profession, I am constantly engaged in debate and discussion with others. We all have different perspectives, experiences, and knowledge. Therefore, it is only natural for us to have differences of opinion, and therefore we should expect that to be the norm, not the exception. In such cases, I do not ask or expect others to share my opinions or convictions, and my goal is not to change others’ views so they accord more nearly with my own. I want to learn and share, plain and simple, and perhaps we can both come away from the exchange for the better. Any time I engage in debate and discussion with another person, for me, it is outside of who that person is, it is not personal or about them. Although any discussion has the potential to rise to the level of contention, jarrings, and strife, that is up to the people involved to regulate themselves. Therefore, discussion and debate and differences of opinion should not be feared, and on the contrary, they should be welcomed. Why? Having different perspectives on issues and challenges can be enormously helpful. They can help us to make our own thinking and ideas clearer, and most importantly of all, we ourselves might be in error. In my profession, there is a maxim that holds true for me in all of life, and it sort of goes something like this: It is not a matter of being right or wrong, it is a matter of determining the degree to which you are (or I am) wrong. In other words, I just assume I am always wrong to some degree. I lack the full picture, all the pieces of the puzzle, all the cards in the deck, etc. I lack full truth. I gather intelligence from as many sources as I can, I compare and contrast ("by proving contraries, truth is made manifest" - Joseph Smith), and then I use the mind and heart that God gave me, along with whatever degree of inspiration I can gather, to help me sort out how off I am and determine the best path forward. And with all of that, I still make plenty of mistakes and errors in judgment, huge ones sometimes, so I thank God for the atonement.

However, I try not to let disagreements become personal. I try to distinguish the person from the person’s opinion, and I try to differentiate between a healthy argument and a personal quarrel. Sometimes it is important to agree to disagree and just move on, but it is important to not fear someone who holds an opposing view. If we are comfortable with our own standards, we can be accepting and tolerant of variety and differences of opinion. As Irespect the opinions and views of others, I genuinely feel that in most cases they in turn respect and better understand my own. Often, I am pleasantly surprised by how my own views are improved by a healthy discussion with others who hold opposing views. This mutual respect can transcend a mere difference of opinion on a minor issue, but can lead to friendships with people quite different than yourself…you can truly be one with a variety of individuals without having to agree on every topic. Just because you listen to another's opinion, that does not mean you have to act on it, and of course, there may come a point, or there may be some topics, where you do not want to listen anymore for various reasons, and you have the right to walk away or discontinue the conversation.


A near Zion-like society is described in the Book of 4th Nephi the prophet says that there was no contention among them four times:


2 and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.


13 And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus.


15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.


18 and there was no contention in all the land.


Certainly these people were in harmony on many things, but does this also mean there were no differences of opinion or disagreements among them? Obviously their hearts were filled with the love of God, so might this mean that the people also loved their brothers and sisters so much that they learned the importance of listening to one another respectfully, considering differences of opinion, asking each other questions, and engaging in the art of respectful disagreement when needed?


There is no need to waste time hating people with whom you disagree. We can try to focus on the fruitful nature of such disagreements. How they have helped you to shape your own views of what you are doing, or who you are, or why you are doing something. We can be magnanimous and generous in accepting others’ failings. It might be the case that sources of disagreement and differences of opinion can be an important vehicle for arriving at greater unity.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

410: SACRIFICE

A few weeks ago, I went snowshoeing early in the morning with some friends to the top of Guardsman Pass to see the sunrise. Once we reached the summit, we built a fire in the snow to keep warm.  Some did not have the appropriate clothing or shoes, so the fire helped to prevent frostbite.  Below are a few pictures of the fire. The interesting thing about this hike was that  I was so focused on other things that I didn't see even see the cross in the distance until we were about to descend down the mountain. Once the smoke started to billow, the sharp contrast from the white of the smoke and the dark wood of the cross caught my eye. 

I find that I get so distracted in life that I oftentimes forget the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ. A recent story in the news this past week really touched me. Most of you might have heard about the young mother whose four year old daughter fell into the swift moving Provo River. Immediately the mother jumped into save her. Unable to reach her young daughter, a few bystanders tried to rescue the young girl. A man from Sandy, UT was with his wife on the banks of the river also saw the tragic situation and jumped in the river. Willing to sacrifice his own life in order to help another was second nature to him. Despite his attempt to retrieve the girl,  he also drowned in his attempt to save the young child. The mother of the four year old also drowned in the river. Such acts of sacrifice are incredible examples of the type of person I would like to be.  To give up one's life to save another is what being a true Christian is all about. 







There have been other acts of sacrifice that have been going on for the past year. Most acts of sacrifice are not known or rarely published in the news. The sacrifices I want to mention are being offered by those who are attempting to reclaim lost truths and forgotten scripture.The sacrifice of time and effort has been mostly unheralded  and actually been criticized by many people. Most people who read this are very aware of the work that has been underway in trying to put together a more accurate set of scriptural cannon. This attempt is in part to remove the condemnation that has been over the heads of all of us for taking lightly the Book of Mormon since the beginning of the Restoration of the Gospel. Part of this project has been trying to put back into the scriptures the Lectures on Faith, the Wentworth Letter and additional revelations that has never been included in the Doctrine and Covenants and/or changed over time. In addition, all of the translations that Joseph made to the New and Old Testament as well as the most accurate translation to the Book of Mormon are being considered.

Since this project has been overwhelming,  a suggestion has been made to fast this weekend and pray for the Lords help to complete this work. Here is the invitation written by my friend:
"We would like to invite any who feel inclined to join us in prayer and fasting this Sunday, June 4 (or sometime around then, according to your needs) for the success of the scripture project.

You may fast as you feel directed, but we'll be fasting for this people as a whole (that our hearts and minds can become unified with the mind of God), and for those directly working on the project (that they will receive help, support and guidance from the Lord, and that all their work will be done with an eye single to the glory of God.)

It would be a beautiful, unifying thing to exert our collective faith and show God our desire to please Him with this scripture effort. May this result in a product He will approve."





Tuesday, April 25, 2017

408: POWER IN HIGH PLACES


The Presiding Bishop is the highest position inside the LDS Church hierarchy in regards to the Aaronic Priesthood. The responsibilities of the Presiding Bishop is to:
  • Oversees the temporal affairs – i.e. buildings, properties, commercial corporations, etc. – of the church.
  • Oversees all the bishoprics around the world.
  • Key Member of the “Council on the Disposition of Tithes” – the group that decides how to spend “sacred” money.
  • Has power to convene the “Common Council of the Church,” the group which can initiate trials on the President of the Church
  • Receives all of  tithing donations.
  • Oversees the “LDS Foundation,” a department which “correlates, encourages, facilitates, and accepts voluntary philanthropic contributions to the Church and its related organizations and activities.”
  • Chairman of the Board of Directors of Property Reserve, Inc., the commercial real estate arm of the Church which owns numerous other investments and companies.
The Church Handbook of Instructions simplifies the duties of the Presiding Bishop as: “The Presiding Bishopric is the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood of the Church (see D&C 107:15). Under the direction of the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric administers the temporal affairs of the Church (see D&C107:68).” To the general church membership, the fewer details the better.

Bishop H. David Burton was called to be the Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 27 December 1995. He had previously served for 14 years as secretary to the Presiding Bishopric and as assistant Church budget officer for a year. Prior to Church employment he worked for Kennecott Copper Corporation (Possible connection with Kennecott Copper and the Hopis) and the Utah State Tax Commission. While serving as Presiding Bishop, Burton spent close to 10 years in building the mammoth urban City Creek Center with its exclusive mall, high-end exclusive condominiums, corporate offices and shops in downtown Salt Lake City. In 2011, he was given the prestigious award of the Giant in Our City.


After serving as the church's presiding bishop for 16 years, Bishop Burton was appointed the new UTA Board Chairman in 2014. However it was reported in the news that he created controversy when the board decided to close its committee meetings to the public, drawing widespread criticism from the public and elected officials, including the governor.  He later stepped down and became the new Chairman of the University of Utah Board of Trustees. Shortly after his installment as chairman of the Board of the University of Utah, a exclusive mansion owned by the LDS Church was gifted to the University of Utah and named after Thomas S Monson. I wrote about it here and here.


In the news this week, Burton came under scrutiny as being part of firing the Huntsman Cancer Institute CEO. John Huntsman attacked H. David Burton, chairman of the U. board of trustees and publically went on record by saying:

"(Burton) is the one who ruined Utah Transit Authority, and now he came over and now he's chairman of the board of trustees," he said. "I told the governor last night, 'Can't you pick somebody in this state who is pro-cancer (research) and who is willing to make Utah stand tall and strong?'"

However, today it was reported that Huntsman Cancer Institute director was reinstated.

Oh the power of money.. and the threat of not having a personal jet at the Church's disposal. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

407: EASTER MORNING SUNRISE

 Photos taken this Easter morning on top of Hidden Peak up Little Cottonwood Canyon.



 
 

Light Conquering Darkness.
Life Defeating Death.
Christ Overcoming All. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

406: A MIRACLE ...THE "PASSOVER" OF THE DESTROYING ANGEL

I was given some advice recently to post more positive and less critical blogposts.

So, I thought I would share the following experience that happened to me this week. As many of you know, this week Christians around the world call this the "holy week" as we observe and remember the last week of Christ's life, his death and his resurrection.

This week is also Passover which began on Monday evening at sundown.  (In Hebrew it is known as Pesach which means “to pass over”.  This sacred Jewish day commemorates liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. It also is symbolic of  God "passing over" the Jewish homes marked with the blood of a lamb protecting them from the 10th plague that killed the firstborn child of each family in Egypt.)

On Monday night, right after sunset,  I received a phone call from a nurse in the Trauma unit at our local hospital about a mile from our home. She asked if I would be able to come quickly to give a Priesthood blessing to a young woman who had just been in a car accident. I immediately got ready and rushed over to the hospital with a friend. Upon arriving at the Trauma unit  hospital, I was told that this young woman has been driving her car when she blacked out, crossed lanes of traffic causing a multi-car accident.  She hit a pole and her car was completely totaled. Both airbags in her car deployed. The doctors did not know the full extent of her injuries yet...but from the initial tests it looked like her blackout was caused by a ruptured brain aneurysm. She was medically induced into a coma to help reduce the swelling on her brain and to stop the bleeding.

Along with her mother and a few family members we circled her bed with unified faith. I offered a prayer asking the Lord to hear our plea to heal her of her injuries. We then anointed her head and gave her a priesthood blessing that she would heal.

As if the accident was not tragic enough, this young woman is also a Bride-to-be. Her wedding is scheduled for this Saturday in the Salt Lake Temple. Her fiance lives in Virginia and was not flying out to Utah until this Thursday. So what was to be a beautiful week.. and the most important day of her life was now turned upside down.

After much fasting and prayers on her behalf these past couple of days,  she is now making a full recover. She is talking  and it does not appear that their has been any brain damage. The bleeding in her brain has stopped, the swelling is back down to normal, and she did not receive any injuries due to the car accident. While she will remain in the hospital through tomorrow, the doctors are very optimistic that she will be able to still get married on Saturday. Truly a miracle on this holy week.

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Now, on a deeper level, this experience has been very symbolic to me. It has many parallels to what I have read in the scriptures  about the bridegroom and us being the bride hoping to be ready for the wedding feast.   Here are a few quick examples of the similarities. The bride "blacked out".. she "fell asleep", only to wake up and find herself in an awful situation. Badly injured, she was in need of the repair, and to start healing(repenting)  in order to get ready for her wedding. Her bridegroom has not been present during this time. However, the best friend of the bridegroom was one of the first ones at the hospital and has made sure she was taken care.  He participated in giving her the blessing. Her fiance, the bridegroom. arrived earlier than planned. He has not left her side since he arrived. The wedding is still planned to happen at 12:00 noon this Saturday. 

All of her family and friends have been fasting and praying in her behalf. They have the faith and hope that she will be out of the hospital in time to be at her wedding (and feast) this Saturday, the day before Easter. Prayers have been answered. Heaven has heard the pleas in her behalf. 
I am grateful to have experienced this miracle as we look forward to celebrate the greatest miracle.. this Sunday.  The resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  A day when we celebrate the rebirth, new life and the promise of Life Eternal.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

405: PROTECTING THE "FRONT DOOR" OF THE TEMPLE WITH MARTINI'S AND COCKTAIL DRESSES



In a recent  meeting between LDS General Authority Elder Don R. Clarke, LDS Church Historian Dr. Matthew J. Grow, and Trevor Haugen, the following question was asked.

Trevor: "Why invest in City Creek?"

Elder Don R Clarke: "Do you know what happens to downtowns when you don’t have something like City Creek? Do you want to go to Detroit? Do you want to go with me to Chicago? And that is what happens. The purpose is to keep the downtown, the front door of Temple Square in a decent sort of place."

Matthew J Grow: "The motivation was to protect that downtown area."

I drove by the newest billboard advertising the LDS downtown mall City Creek. Two attractive models on a night on the town drinking what appears to be a martini and the woman in her cocktail dress drinking wine.  Seriously? and this is "protecting" the front door of the temple to be a decent sort of place?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

404: APRIL 6th, 2017

Today is April 6th, 2017. Got up early and headed up for a hike with a friend. It was a warm, beautiful spring morning. The water was pretty cold though.  


 



April 6 is a significant date in LDS Church History. The Prophet Joseph Smith was divinely authorized to reestablish the Church of Christ on this day. Years later  The Church of Christ that was organized by Joseph Smith Jr  became known as The Church of Jesus Christ  of Latter-day Saints. 
Also on this date in 1877, the St. George Temple was dedicated. The St. George Temple was the first temple the Saints built in Utah and the first to remain in continuous operation. In 1893, the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated on April 6th.  And finally on April 6th, 2000 the Temple near the sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York was dedicated. (Some have also considered this date to be the anniversary of the Lord's birth as well.)


 Sidenote:  I received an email summary today which I was asked to post on this blog.



Covenant Offering

For thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may show forth his power unto the Gentiles, for this cause that the Gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel; And when these things come to pass that thy seed shall begin to know these things—it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel.
3 NEPHI 21:6-7

STATUS: Currently there is no covenant people on the earth capable of fulfilling the prophecies found in scripture. (Teachings Post, pg. 1). “There is not a single church body congregation, or assembly, anywhere, that has published and is claiming as their body of governing scriptural material a set of scriptures which include the Lectures on Faith, fully print the “fullness of scriptures” containing every revision Joseph made to the Bible, faithfully reproduces the original revelations in their original words…but there is a draft available for your review.” (St. George 27:20). 

INVITATION: Today is our opportunity to repent and return-by gathering, saying, and doing, what was offered and expected when the Restoration began through Joseph Smith. (Inquiry and Response, pg. 1). “Joseph Smith brought forth words that have never been preserved or accepted.” (St. George 47:16). We must demonstrate the respect, penitence and labor necessary to recover what was lost. (Inquiry and Response, pg. 1). All who intend to receive the light, (D&C 93) and come out of condemnation, (D&84) must not treat lightly what the Lord has offered, but instead “repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments” which God has given. (Scripture, Prophecy and Covenant, pg. 4).   The Fullness of the Scriptures, which Joseph Smith said without the church would yet fail, are now available. (St. George Talk, 15:15).


BOOK OF MORMON: The Book of Mormon has been provided to convince both Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ. It was also “entrusted to the gentiles for the purpose of gathering the remnant and establishing Zion.” (Scripture, Prophecy and Covenant, pg. 6).

RESTORATION SCRIPTURES: Similar to how the Book of Mormon exists as an everlasting covenant, the Restoration Scriptures also provide an opportunity to reclaim blessings and lay hold on a covenant. (Teachings Post, pg. 1). “When it comes to scripture, corruption happens, and each new dispensation is responsible for fixing the cannon of scripture, to reclaim truths, to correct errors, and to adopt guiding principles applicable to their day.” (St. George 36:07). The Restoration Scriptures are a restatement of what the Lord once offered and what He now offers and instructs. (Teachings Post, pg. 2). The Restoration scriptures are a remedy to past deficiencies. (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant, pg. 10).

GENTILES: According to scripture the Lord plans to use a restoration through the Gentiles to “gather again” the remnant of Israel. (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant, pg. 2). The covenant associated with this work must first be offered to and accepted by the Gentiles, so that a few who repent and return may be numbered among the remnant of God’s people and assist in establishing the New Jerusalem. (Teachings Post, pg. 2). “This (The Restoration Scriptures/Covenant) is necessary for the Gentiles to claim they have accepted a covenant and a law.” (St. George 37:30).

COVENANT PEOPLE: If successful repentance occurs, including being able to obtain accurate language and revelation, then the Lord may provide us with His covenant language. (Inquiry and Response, pg. 1). Those who accept the covenants offered by God will become part of the covenant people of God, be numbered among the seed of the Remnant, and inherit this land. These are they whom God will protect. (Teachings, pg. 3, Scripture, Prophecy and Covenant pg. 11).

THE FEW: Those few who receive Christ and His Covenant will be armed with righteousness and the power of God to guide them. In Him, they will be able to seek for and establish Zion. (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant, pg. 9). According to 1 Nephi 4, “blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. And if they endure unto the end, they shall be lifted up at the last day and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb.”

THE NEW JERUSALEM: “Zion will include people who are willing to receive revelations from God and obey Commandments.” (St. George 38:03). After acceptance by the people, and approval from the Lord, if the people abide the covenant, the Lord will establish a New Jerusalem as a land of peace and city of refuge. These people will be the only ones not at war with one another as the final chapter unfolds. (D&C 45: 65-71).

GATHERING THE REMNANT: Once the covenant is personally accepted, it can be offered by the recipient to other Christians throughout the world. (missionary work). (Teachings Post, pg. 2).  “Accepting the covenant offered in our day includes the obligation and right to gather scattered remnants of Israel…and the right and obligation to assist in building the New Jerusalem.” (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant, pg. 13). 

ZION UNITY: Any individual can commune with God. But covenants to bring Zion require a people to be restored again by covenant as God’s people. “All of them must unite in accepting a law, a standard, the covenant for those who will help establish the New Jerusalem.” “They must be gathered. Before they gather they must have one heart and one mind which requires them to receive and act on a covenant with the Lord; not only to say, but to do what has been asked of them.” (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenants, pg. 14).

ZION EQUALITY: Zion will involve a people unified into an equal body without hierarchy. There will be one heart, one mind, and no poor among them. All are in need of repenting into this Zion state. (Inquiry and Response, pg. 2). Equality in Zion is unlikely if we do not treat one another as equals along the way. (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant pg. 15).

ACCEPTANCE BY THE PEOPLE: In September of 2017, a finalized version of the Restoration Scriptures will be offered for approval as a law and covenant. In addition to possibly fulfilling the covenant initially offered by Christ, ratification by the Saints, and approval from the Lord, could also result in protection from coming judgments.  (Scripture, Prophecy, and Scripture, pg. 11). 

ACCEPTANCE FROM THE LORD: Men cannot make covenants with God. God offers a covenant and mankind accepts or rejects. (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant, pg. 14). The Restoration Scriptures and associated Covenant will need to be approved and accepted by the Lord. (Teachings Post, pg. 3). If we as Gentiles accept the covenant, and “if a people, adopt a covenant, and receive what has been restored, the clock will begin to tick.” (St. George 48:31).

INDIVIDUAL and COLLECTIVE CHOICE: All are free to accept or reject the covenant offering. (Teachings Post, pg. 3). Just as the Gentiles were free to accept or reject the covenant offering at the time of Joseph, we too today are free to accept or reject the Restoration Scriptures and associated covenant.  (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant, pg. 3, 8, 9,16).

 

References:

The Scriptures

St. George Conference Talk, Things that keep you up at night. 3-19-17.



Monday, April 3, 2017

403: THE GOOD, BAD AND UGLY - APRIL 2017 GENERAL CONFERENCE


THE GOOD:

The Talk given by Elder Dale G Renland.

He began his talk by quoting from the Lectures on Faith. It was the first time I think that has been done since they were removed the LDS Scriptures in 1921. He focused on Jesus Christ and the importance of Repentance. He said that in our lifelong quest to follow Jesus Christ, His example of kindness to those who sin is particularly instructive. We, who are sinners, must, like the Savior, reach out to others with compassion and love.

One interesting quote from his talk,  which I wonder if he was talking specifically to his associates:
"Church Leaders can not alter God's commandments or doctrine, contrary to His will, to be convenient or popular."
I also liked D Todd Christopherson's talk on the importance of our duty to warn our neighbor. The motivation for raising the warning voice is love—love of God and love of fellowman. To warn is to care.


THE BAD  (LESS THAN GOOD).

Out of the 32 talks that were given this past weekend at General Conference and the 10 prayers that were said,  ONLY ONE WOMAN SPOKE and ONLY ONE WOMAN gave a prayer.  I would think at the very least there would be representation from someone in the Primary Presidency, the Young Women's Organization, as well as from the Relief Society Presidency.  (even if there was a change in the organization this conference)

Another observation I noticed, instead of being told that we should work towards having the Church come out from condemnation as well as individually work out our salvation with fear and trembing (Phillippians 2:2:13), We were reassured, and were given the Lord's loving approval for what we have done. Excerpt from this talk:
"My beloved brethren of the priesthood, my purpose today is to both reassure you and to invigorate you in your priesthood service... I pray that I may be able to convey  the Lord's loving approval of what you already have done and offer you an encouraging glimpse of what you may yet achieve as a holder of His Holy Priesthood."
We were also told that following a man is equivalent to following Christ from this talk:
"When we follow our living prophet President Thomas S. Monson, we look up to Jesus Christ"
Other interesting statements:
"Because the Book of Mormon is true, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lords' Church on the Earth today"
another one from this talk.
"Joseph Smith received the keys of the Priesthood which have been passed on to President Thomas S Monson who exercises them today. I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. "
and this:
"President Monson, you are indeed the  Lord's Prophet."

AND THE UGLY: (A LESS THAN PRETTY OBSERVATION)

I went to the LDS Stake Center on Saturday night to watch  Priesthood Session with my father. We arrived about 10 minutes before it started. I noticed that the Stake Presidency was sitting on the stand. The lights were dimmed and we sat down and watched the live preliminary satellite broadcast feed on the large projection screen in the chapel. About five minutes before the session started. The Stake Presidency stood up and signaled to the rest of us in attendance to stand up as President Monson enter into the Conference Center in Downtown Salt Lake. We were not even present and in a remote chapel, yet we were expected to stand up in reverence as we watched our prophet walk in and take his red seat in the Conference Center.  As soon President Monson sat down, and after the Stake Presidency sat down. the rest of us could then sit. However, looking on the bright side, at least we didn't have to extend our right arm outward and slightly upward.

I would be interesting in finding out if this is becoming a common practice in other stakes.  This adoration and reverence for leadership needs to stop. I think it might be offensive to the Lord and is a form of idolatry.

The word idolatry means, at least according to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, “excessive attachment or veneration for any thing, or that which borders on adoration.” In other words, if we replace the word veneration with its own definition, we come up with this definition of idolatry: excessive attachment or the highest degree of respect and reverence; a feeling or sentiment excited by the dignity and superiority of a person, or by the sacredness of his character, or that which borders on adoration. This idea of granting certain offices or people a perceived superiority takes on even more meaning if we consider these words by Hugh Nibley: “The moment I even think of my priesthood as a status symbol or a mark of superiority, it becomes a mere hollow pretense. At the slightest hint to gloating or self-congratulation the priesthood holder is instantly and automatically unfrocked.” (“Best Possible Test,” CWHN 12:536.)


I can't help but thing that Joseph Smith would not allow for such idolatry. It is reported in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith  a report of a sermon that he gave when Joseph expounded the meaning of the fourteenth chapter of Ezekial in the Old Testament,

“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel – said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church – that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls – applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall – that they were depending on the prophet, hence were darkened in their minds – in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy.”
(The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 237-238).

The idolatry evidenced in Ezekiel 14 was that the people went to the prophet for their knowledge of God, not to God himself. They set up a stumbling block, a mediator for THE mediator (our Lord and Savior). That is to say that instead of approaching God through prayer, supplication, fasting or whatever method, for knowledge of Him and his Son, we tend to approach a man. No matter how inspired that man may be, the gospel is an individual gospel meant for “the one.” That one, to me, is me. That one, to you, is you. As mentioned above, it is an imperative duty we have to seek an individual relationship and connection with God and when we do not undertake to fulfill that duty our minds must become “darkened.”