Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Message

 


When I was a boy, I was my mother’s most difficult young child to raise. I had an overabundance of energy.  As further evidence to help you understand the challenge my parents faced in raising our family, let me tell you about our family scripture reading. Each morning, my mother read the Book of Mormon to us during breakfast. During this time, my older brother, Dave, and I would sit quietly but irreverently. To be completely honest, we weren’t listening. We were reading the print on the cereal boxes.

Finally, one morning, I decided to square up with my mother. I exclaimed, “Mom, why are you doing this to us? Why are you reading the Book of Mormon every morning?” I then made a statement that I am embarrassed to admit to. In fact, I can’t believe I actually said it. I told her, “Mom, I am not listening!”

Her loving response was a defining moment in my life. She said, “Son, I was at a meeting where President Marion G. Romney taught about the blessings of scripture reading. During this meeting, I received a promise that if I would read the Book of Mormon to my children every day, I would not lose them.” She then looked me straight in the eyes and, with absolute determination, said, “And I will not lose you!”

By Elder K. Brett Nattress of the Seventy October 2016, General Conference,
"No Greater Joy Than to Know That They Know"

Friday, May 12, 2017

LDS Church Not Abandoning BSA

 

The LDS Church is discontinuing Varsity and Venture Scouts for boys 14-18.  But the Church is still fully participating in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to age 14.  Most LDS boys earn their Eagle rank by 14-16 anyways.  

The reason for this policy change has to do with Venture Scouting not fullfilling the vocational and self-reliance needs of the older boys. I am the Venture Leader in my home ward.  We had already instituted a program like what the Church is specifying before the announcement.  Also, sponsoring Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venture Scout units places undo leadership burden on smaller LDS congregations. 

Punishment, Reward, Charity

 
When a person comes unto Christ, their highest motivation should be to obey and serve God out of pure love and devotion.  This is because, if you knew the supreme mercy and perfection of God, how could you possibly not love Him.

But some of God's children are not at that point yet.  From His infinite mercy, Christ meets us where we are and then seeks to elevate us.  Coming unto Christ doesn't necessarily happen in an instant.  If fear of punishment is all we can understand, then Christ will motivate us based on fear.  The scriptures say, "Fear God".  Only as we are motivated (even by fear) and begin to obey, can we begin to come to know Christ more and then refine our motivations.  One day every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ; many, I expect, will be motivated by a desire to avoid the eternal punishment. (Phil 2:10-11; Rom 14:11)

After fear, God entices us to serve Him by promising us unspeakable rewards.  Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.  Christ Himself commamded that all people "lay up in store treasure in heaven".  Positive reinforcement is a higher and more enduring motivation.  And as we serve and obey God, we come to know Him better, and His attributes.  As we learn of Christ and serve Christ, our faith, and motivations are further refined. 

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

The highest motivation for devoting our lives to the service of Jesus Christ is out of pure love.  If we come to truely know that perfect attributes of Christ and His infinite love and mercy for us, how could we not adore Him and serve Him.  The Book of Mormon prophet, King Benjamin, reminds us that only by serving God and participating in His work can we truely come to know the Master. 

Mosiah 5:13 For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

Again, pure love (charity) for God, is the highest, noblest, and most enduring motivation.  But we cannot begin to come to know Christ until we begin to learn to put off the natural man and act with restraint (Thou Shalt Not's).  We then further progress in our knowledge and love of God by participating in Christ's Kingdom (Thou Shalt's).

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

In a way, our motivations may stratify us in heaven and in the resurrection. If we at least confess Christ, even out of fear, we are promised to be eventually saved from Eternal Punishment.  Our motivations based on fear, reward, or love likely determine our level of faith and obedience which may also determine our place (mansion) in heaven. (see 1 Cor 15:40-41).

Monday, May 01, 2017

God's Justice: Informed Consent

 
In this life, we can expect tribulation and adversity. The reality that bad things do happen to good people doesn't disprove God's existence. The point of life is not to have an easy life, but to bear our adversity with patience and faith like Job and like Christ.

Despite our trials, God is still a just God. In the pre-mortal existence, we were all given "informed consent". Informed Consent is what a medical doctor does before doing a painful surgery or procedure.  Similarly, in the pre-mortal existence, we were fully made aware of the potential for suffering here on Earth but also the unspeakable rewards. Also, God promised to make up to us all of our losses. The Bible reveals that not only did we accept the terms, "we shouted for joy!".

The reality of the pre-existence and informed consent is critical to the justice of God.  Denying this doctrine Christian churches have lost ground and many souls to atheism on this very issue.  

Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Christ, The Good Samaritan

 
Jesus Christ frequently taught in parables.  In addition to a positive superficial meaning, parables had an additional deeper and more profound meaning pointing to His devine mission. The parable of the Good Samaritan is no exception.

[A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho] We are all represented by the "certain man".  The decent from Jerusalem to Jericho represents our premortal existence and leaving Gods presence to come to Earth. There are not very many references to the pre-existence in scripture.  This is an exciting one. 

[and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.]  During mortality, Satan lies in wait to spiritually injure us and steal from us our divinity and righteousness. 

[And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.]  Worldly religion and even The Law of Moses have no interest helping or cannot even if they wanted to. 

[But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,]   Christ is the Good Samaritan who is looking to save us, the Poor Wayfairing Man. 

[And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine,]  Christ has the power to heal spiritual wounds by repentance (wine) and covenant (oil).

[and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.]  Not only will Christ return, but Christ commends us into the care of His Church (inn) and His authorized servants (host) who have been called and empowered to act for Christ.