Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nephite Ark of the Covenant

Don Bradley at fairlds.org presents a paper entitled “Piercing the Veil: Temple Worship in the Lost 116 pages.  Brother Bradley comments on some temple-related themes that may have been present in the lost 116 pages. I especially liked his insights in the possible relationship between the items in the Mosaic ark of the covenant (decalogue tablets, manna and rod of Arron) and the Nephite relics (Brass plates, Liahona, and Sword of Laban).  Bradley suggests that these Nephite relics may have been placed in a New World version of the ark of the covenant and served a similar purpose.

In the Old Testament after Moses descended Mount Sinai with the decalogue stones and found the Children of Israel worshipping the golden calf, he drew a line in the sand and asked 'who is on the Lord's side?'  Only the tribe of Levi stood with Moses.  When the Lord bestowed rights to administer in the Temple to the Levites, there was controversy.  

So, Moses had a representative from each tribe place their  staffs in the court yard of the tabernacle. The next day the tribes of Israel beheld the staff of Aaron had not only sprouted leaves but also yielded almonds.  The staff of Aaron was carried in the Mosaic Ark of Covenant and proved Aaron's divine right as High Priest over Israel.

Of particular interest is how these Nephite relics established Nephi's divine right as king and high priest and prove his covenant relationship with the Lord. Monarchs demonstrate the possession of divine right by the possession of the "crown jewels" and various seals and golden-gem encrusted objects. However, the Nephite artifacts were not appreciated for their monetary value but for their spiritual significance.

The importance of the Nephite relics were that 1. it proved Nephi's divine right to rule just as Goliath's sword symbolized David's divine right (JBOMS, Ben McGuire)  2. it convinced the Lamanites of the Nephites right to rule despite their false tradition that Nephi had stolen the artifacts from Laman and Lemuel.  3.  The relics proved to the Mulekites and King Zarahemla that the Nephites possessed the divine right.  

This is significant as Mulek was the son of King Zedekiah.  Also, the Mulekites outnumbered the Nephites 2:1.  So, you think there would be controversy over  which king, Zarahemla or Mosiah would rule. As it happened, the Mulekites peacefully united with and submitted to King Mosiah's rule and became Nephites.

If the unification of the Mulekites and Nephites is a type and shadow of the future unification of the Jews (Judah) and the Mormons (Joseph), I wonder if the modern LDS Church possesses similar artifacts that prove its divine right and covenant relationship with Hashem.  

The other tidbits I enjoyed about Brother  Bradley's paper was his comments on Fayette Lapham's account of what was contained in the lost 116 pages of the Book of Lehi. According to Lapham who had spoken with Joseph Smith Sr., the 116 pages gave an account of how the Nephites discovered the Jaredites interpreters or Urim and Thummin.

Lapham says the Nephites were led by the Liahona to the interpreters. After finding the interpreters, the person who finds them enters the Tabernacle to inquire of the Lord. Lapham says that the Voice of the Lord asks: "What is that in your hand?” And Lapham says the man responded that “he did not know but that he had come to inquire."  So, we have this great motif of speaking with the Lord at the veil of the temple. The Brother of Jared had a similar experience.

The other details Brother Bradley suggests must be contained in the Lost 116 pages likely contained an account of how Aminadi (Joseph and Daniel type) used the interpreters to translate an inscription on the walls of the temple.  Aminadi is only briefly mentioned by Mormon to introduce Amulek in Alma 10. It is clear that when Mormon says "that same Aminadi", he assumes the reader should already know Aminadi's story.

In any event, I am overall impressed with the significance of the discovery of the Mulekites by the Nephites in the New World.  I am sure that there was some controversy over whether the City of Jerusalem had actually been destroyed.  But God says he will "prove all his words with power and great glory." here we have not just another group of Jews who escaped Jerusalem but Mulek, one of King Zedekiah's sons. 

When it comes to controversy today with regard to the historicity of the Book of Mormon, I am confident that at some point the Lord will also prove these words. But for now, we are told that the Lord is proving the Gentiles whether we will humble ourselves to do the will of God (charity) and not follow after our own will (pride).

The Akkadian Inscription of Idrimi

John Gee of the LDS Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship asks: "How did Joseph Smith manage to publish in the Book of Abraham a story that closely matched a Middle-Bronze-Age Syrian autobiography that would not be discovered for nearly a hundred years?"   

I agree with Brother Gee that the style in this text is unlike anything else found in the region except the Book of Abraham.  The text dates to 200 years after Abraham. So, while Brother Gee may not feel like he can say it in scholarly paper, it seems evident to me that this authentic ancient text closely emulated the original Book of Abraham.

God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, 2 Nephi 11:3)

And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, 2 Nephi 33:11)

1–14 In Aleppo, my ancestral home, a hostile [incident] occurred so that we had to flee to the people of Emar, my mother's relatives, and stay there. My older brothers also stayed with me, but none of them had the plans I had. So I, Idrimi, the son of Ilimilimma, devotee of IM, Ḫebat, and my lady Ištar, lady of Alalaḫ, thinking to myself, "Whoever his patrimony is a great nobleman, but whoever [remains] among the citizens of Emar is a vassal," took my horse, chariot, and groom and went away.

14–20 I crossed over the desert and came among the Sutu warriors. I spent the night with them in my covered chariot. The next day I set forth and went to Canaan. The town of Ammiya is located in Canaan.

20–27 People from Aleppo, Mukišḫe, Ni'i, and Nuḫašše were living in Ammiya, and when they realized that I was their lord's son, they gathered to me. I said the following: "I have become chief, I have been appointed."

27–29 Then I stayed among the Ḫapiru warriors seven years. I released birds and practiced extispicy.

29–34 In the seventh year IM became favorably inclined toward me, so I made ships and had auxiliary troops board them and proceeded via the sea to Mukišḫe. I reached land at Mount Casius and went ashore.

35–42 Now, when my country heard of me they brought me large cattle and small cattle, and in one day, in unison, the countries of Ni'i, Nuḫašše, Mukišḫe, and my own city Alalaḫ became reconciled to me. When my allies heard, they came to me. And when they concluded a treaty with me, I established them truly as my allies.

42–51 Now for seven years Barattarna, the mighty king, the king of the Hurrian warriors, was hostile to me. In the seventh year I sent Anwanda to Barattarna, the mighty king, the king of the Hurrian warriors, and told him of the treaties of my ancestors when they were allied with them, and that our actions were pleasing to the (former) kings of the Hurrian warriors for they had made a binding agreement between them.

51–58 The mighty king heard of the treaties of our predecessors and the agreement made between them, and with the treaty they read to him the words of the treaty in detail. So on account of our treaty terms he received my tribute. Then Ipr<esented> the (gestures of) loyalty, which were considerable, I made great sacrifices, and restored to him a lost estate. I swore to him a binding oath as a loyal vassal.

58–63 Then I became king. Kings from all around attacked me in Alalaḫ. Just as they had heaped up on the ground the corpses of (my) ancestors,corpse upon corpse, so I, too, caused (their corpses) to be heaped up on the ground thus putting an end to their warfare.

64–77 Then I took troops and attacked Hatti-land. As for the seven cities under their protection, namely, Paššaḫe, Damarut-re'i, Ḫulaḫḫan, Zise, Ie, Uluzina, and Zaruna, these I destroyed. Hatti-land did not assemble and did not march against me, so I did what I wanted. I took captives from them and took their property, valuables, and possessions and distributed them to my auxiliaries, kinsmen, and friends. Together with them I took (booty).

77–86 Then I returned to Mukišḫe and entered my capital Alalaḫ. With the captives, goods, property, and possessions which I brought down from Hatti I had a palace built. I made my regime like the regime of kings. I made my brothers like royal brothers, my sons like their sons, and my relatives like their relatives. The inhabitants who were in my land I made to dwell securely, and even those who did not have a dwelling I settled.

86–91 Then I organized my land, and made my cities like they were before. Just as our ancestors had established regular rites for the gods of Alalaḫ, and just as our forefathers had performed sacrifices, I constantly performed them. These things I did, and I entrusted them to my son IM-nirari.

92–98 Whoever effaces this statue of mine, may the Heaven god curse him, may the Earth below destroy his progeny, may the gods of heaven and earth diminish his kingship. Let them have him executed (lit., measure him by a rope). Whoever changes or erases it, may IM, the lord of heaven and earth, and the great gods extirpate his progeny and seed from his land.

98–101 Šarruwa is the official scribe. He has written, copied and reviewed (the text). And now may the gods of heaven and earth keep Šarruwa, the scribe, who has written (the text of) this statue for him, in good health; may they protect him and be his guardian. May Šamaš, lord of the upper and nether worlds, lord of the spirits, be his protector.

102–4 I reigned for 30 years. I inscribed my achievements upon my statue. Let [the people read it] and continually bless me.

Edward L. Greenstein and David Marcus, "The Akkadian Inscription of Idrimi," Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society 8 (1976): 67–68.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Faith vs. Doubt, Hope vs. Fear, Charity vs. Pride

When I was at BYU, a religion professor taught that the opposite of love was not hate but fear based on the scripture that perfect love casteth out all fear.  I think that was only partially correct. Mormon and Moroni labored to make sure we understand the original meanings of these words. After considering other scripture, it seems to me that the scriptural opposite of faith is doubt, the scriptural opposite of hope is fear, and the scriptural opposite of charity (pure love of Christ) is pride (enmity with God).

Faith is obedience with real intent. Faith is not blind belief without action. Faith obeys first waiting for the witness that comes only after a trial of our faith. Also faith knows that only by obeying first will we know of the doctrine, whether it is of God or our leaders speak of themselves. 

Doubt passive-aggressively says we won't obey or submit until we understand or God proves it to us.  Those who Doubt may also refuse to obey because life doesn't seem fare.

Real Intent is an eye single to the glory of God. Real Intent doesn't seek to be seen of men. Real Intent is not giving primarily for a tax break or good public relations. 
Real Intent doesn't hide evil behind a facade of humanitarianism.

Hope is an assurance through obedience of God's providence and blessing. Hope is not a casino, wishing upon a star mentality. Hope is not fear of scarcity but a trust in God's promise that "The Earth is full and there is more than enough and to spare", or trust that "Thy days are known and thy years shall not be numbered less" and a trust to "take no thought fir the morrow". and that God will provide us "sufficient for our needs". Thus people with Hope don't take bribes or illegal kickbacks and payoffs.

Charity is a motivation to act based on pure love of Christ, a desire to build Zion, and an eternal perspective. Charity is not a motivation based on fear of scarcity: not enough time, not enough resources, not enough oil, contemplation of death, overpopulation, climate change, peak oil, war on terror, etc, etc. Charity is not charity without righteous obedience. An evil man cannot cannot give a good gift any more than a rich man can pay indulgences to the Church for forgiveness of sins. Charity will give a good gift and exhibit faith through repentance and righteous obedience. Charity is the "perfect love casteth out all fear". Charity doubt's not and fears not.  Charity says "Not as I will but as thou wilt" instead of "Do as you will".

Many people really are turned off by the LDS Church because it is led by a living prophet and a local bishop that are going to tell them what to do and how to live their lives.  Many cannot stand to be told what to do, even by God and especially God's annointed servants.

Consequently, the most popular religion in the world is where individuals worship the god in their hearts.  While the true and Living God can dwell in our hearts through His Holy Spirit, most people worship an imaginary god after their own likeness that never really expects or demands much of them.

A religion that does not require the sacrificeof all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation - Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Warning Voice

The Book of Mormon is a divine book of scripture containing a witness and a warning.  The witness is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. According to President Ezra T. Benson, the warning is to beware of pride.  What is the sin of pride?  President Benson taught that pride is "enmity with God".  In other words, according to the Book of Mormon, pride is an evil desire "that the God who created [you] should not rule and reign over [you]". 

There are 3 Lessons we are to learn in life: 1. Love God.  2. Control the Body, 3. Submit to God's Priesthood Authority.  In other words, Pres. Benson liked to say, "Give your life to God because He can do more with it than you can."  Christ taught the essence of Christianity when He said, "not as I wilt but as Thou wilt".

However, some despise God and seek not his will.  Some cannot stand than anyone else tell them what to do--even God.  Many follow the "god in their hearts", a god of their own making created in their image who never really requires that much out of them.

A few of those possessed with this pride fall for Satan's lie that you can "do as you will."  But not everyone can do as they will. That's what the pyramid is all about. There is only room at the top for one.  Everyone else is a "king-man" slave looking for privileges, bribes, pay-offs, kick-backs and favors to "trickle down" from the top.

Truth is that there is no such thing as anyone doing whatever they want.  Life is about choosing the master we will serve. If we choose Satan, there can only be one person in the whole pyramid scheme doing what they want. And even that person can't do much of anything because Satan has no creative power.  Satan can only enslave, steal and corrupt.

If we choose to be a slave to the body, or riches or power; we too end up realizing that we can never get enough and we quickly can become enslaved by various addictions that destroy our lives, our health, our self-respect, and our happiness.

Lucifer lies to his followers that He was the chosen son and not Jehovah and that there will be no future judgement and there will be no physical resurrection.  This false doctrine that there will be no judgement is enticing to those enslaved to sin.

Because God has creative powers, there is no scarcity of position at the top.  God can bestow His creative power on His children and they then can have dominion over their own creation as God has dominion over us as we are His creation.  In God's system there is never a problem with too many Chiefs and not enough indians.

But the problem with pride is not just the problem of inequality but when a people are prideful, they allow room for secret combinations to enter in.  Secret Combinations take advantage of, steal from, enslave and even kill their neighbors.   

Secret Combinations create a society with great inequality and artificial scarcity. Why does Satan love to make resources scarce? God assures us the "Earth is full and there is more than enough and to spare".  But if we make resources scarce, then possessing these resources brings power, status over those who will take the bribe or who also covet material things.

In Roman times, Secret Combinations destroyed their democracy by demoralizing the people through immorality and substance abuse. Sexual immorality led to Illegitimacy.  Illegitimacy led to poverty. Substance abuse led to greater idleness and wastefulness, and idleness and wastefulness also led to poverty.  

After building up a voting base of poor, instead of helping the poor themselves, the people instead voted for state-sponsored welfare (free bread and circus). When the State attempts to do the work of religion (charity and virtue according to James), the State leaves out the virtue. Thus there is no accountability and the poor stay poor because instead of rehabilitating the poor, the State-sponsored welfare bails out and enables the poor.  The free bread and circus just keeps on coming without any expectation to change the behavior that made the person poor in the first place.

Just like building orphanages creates more orphans, and adopting children from 3rd-world countries for tens of thousands of dollars creates a bigger market in human trafficking. State-sponsored welfare creates more poverty and more dependence. Government needs to get out of the job of Religion and Religions needs to also start doing their job (charity and virtue).

So, Rome was sending all its gold to China for hashish and opium carried along the spice roads.  To maintain the Roman economy, Rome had to bring in more tribute.  To bring in more tribute, they had to expand their territory.  But Rome didn't have enough soldiers.  So, the Marian reforms (Dream Act), promised German Barbarians citizenship and welfare benefits and land if they would serve in the Roman Legions.  

After Rome was bankrupt, these German Barbarian Foeterati aliens staged an insurrection, assassinated the Emperor and divided up the Roman Empire for ever. The Holy Roman Empire lasted for hundreds of years until Emperor Francis II signed the Treaty of Pressburg in Dec 1805. Joseph Smith was born Dec 1805.

Christ warns the Gentiles in the Book of Mormon that the seed of Jacob will be among us and could tear us into pieces if we don't repent.  However, I am hopeful because of Isa 19 that Egypt will repent.  We will be smitten and then we will be healed. 

The current banking empire represented in Nebuchadnezzar's dream by the feet of clay  involves the private central banking system set up by Nathan Rothschild in 1815 when he used his fore-knowledge of the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo. Rothschild spread the rumor that England had lost. This created a panic on the Consul market.  The next day, Rothschild bough up control over 1/2 the British Empire for pennies on the British pound.

In America we have allowed the secret combinations that the Book of Mormon warned about to infiltrate and grow up among us.  We call this system of private central banks that rule the industrialized world the G20.  The Book of Mormon warns that this conspiracy seeks to destroy the freedom of all nations.  Also, that secret combinations like that are among the Gentile nations proved the destruction of the Nephites and Jaredites.

The Banking conspiracy really got ahold of the US in 1913. The US Revolutionary war was fought over freedom to print or coin our own currency and issue our own credit and not have to go though London's good 'ol boy system.  However in 1812, rich elite gathered at Jekyll Is. Georgia and planned the Federal Reserve system (New World Order Heritage Site).  

There were many who remembered why our forefathers fought the Revolution (not tea or stamps or wearing jeans and watching football). So, JPMorgan invited all the opposition to the FED on a cruise to discuss the matter.  JPMorgan thought the lifeboats on the Titanic cluttered the deck and had them removed.  Then something came up at the last minute and JPMorgan couldn't make the cruise.  Then the Titanic was driven into an iceberg and all JPMorgan's adversaries went down with the ship.  

I drive over a memorial of the sinking of the Titanic almost every day coming home from work.  The Major Archibald Butt memorial Bridge is located in Augusta, GA and spans the Augusta Canal on 15th Street. Major Butt supposedly kept all the scared men from getting into the life boats at gun point making sure women and children were attended to first.  The whole thing is a total fabrication and the Butt Bridge is the ugliest little bridge you could possibly imagine.  But President Taft flew in to Augusta for the ribbon cutting ceremony. (Georgia Guidestones is another local NWO globalist monument in Elberton).

Every President since Taft has been controlled by the Banking cartel.  Most have all been members of the Bohemian Club/Grove and the Bilderberg Group.  Whatever they call their get-to-gethers; its the same people weaving the same web.

So, then over Christmas break Dec 23, 1913, A few congressmen meet and pass the Federal Reserve Act which insider Woodrow Wilson signs (Woodrow Wilson's Childhood home is in Augusta on 9th Street). and the now Chief Justice and former President Taft, who had became an initiated insider (took the Mark of the Beast), checked off on it also. Now Satan had control over the world's reserve currency and America began its slow and steady moral decline.

So what does secret combinations and the warning of Nephi, Mormon and Moroni in the Book of Mormon have to do with faith, hope and charity?  Well, I was trying to think about why after warning about secret combinations in Ether 8 did the Lord end the Book of Mormon with a lecture on true charity?  Maybe the Lord feels like our misunderstanding of true charity is part of what gives conspiracy power to grow up among us.

Understanding these fundamental principles is challenging because Satan has changed the meaning of faith, hope and charity.  Satan has also changed the meaning of pride to be a good thing. So now we talk about good pride and bad pride.

Faith has been changed to mean blind belief.  In reality faith is obedience with real intent that then bares knowledge. True Christians are Christian scientists  who are taught and encouraged to prove all things.  LDS always question but never doubt. Doubt says I will obey after I understand.  Faithful questioning says I will obey first knowing the commandment is of God and understanding will come through obedience later.

But we know we cannot receive a witness until after a trial of our faith. Christ taught only after doing the will of the Father would know of the doctrine whether it was of God or if Christ spoke of himself.  LDS obey with real intent, we talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk, knowing that obedience will bring forth the good fruit of peace and happiness and the powers of godliness and priesthood in our lives.

Hope has become a wish upon a star.  Hope has become the feeling we get inside a casino when we roll the dice or pull the lever on the slot machine and we wish that our number comes up.

Firstly, true Christians don't gamble and only go to casinos for the buffet. Second, true hope is an assurance through our faith.  As I have said before, at the BYU Testing Center, after turning in your scan-tron at the desk, the test is immediately  graded electronically on the spot and a special HP printer is located near the exit that continuously spits out half-sheets of paper with your test grade.  

There is almost a continual vigil of prayer and supplication surrounding that HP Printer at the BYU Testing Center. But sometimes students pray a wish knowing they didn't study as they should have and more often there is the prayer of faith and assurance that the print-out will read "Congratulations on a NICE test score", because they put in the work required to master the material.

But how does true obedience and true hope and assurance lead to the true love of Christ?  Mormon warned that an "evil man cannot give a good gift". Why? because an evil man does't give with true intent. What is that intent?  The only true intent is with an eye single to the glory of God.  Remember, faith is obedience and good works with real intent. 

However, the great conspiracy hides behind their many foundations and the cloak of humanitarianism.  But in some cases, some (not all) of what these foundations support is self-serving or supports the progressive demoralization of America and other nations.

Also, we have to remember that even if we give to others with real intent, we must also be virtuous.  If we are immoral in our personal lives but are generous to the poor; are we any better than the rich during the days of Martin Luther who falsely believed they could pay indulgences for forgiveness of sin?

So, we have discussed how true faith leads to charity. More interesting is how true hope leads to charity?  Many times I am not patient enough because I fear I may not have enough time or energy.  Consequently, I may get short with another person instead of being patient.  

The conspiracy and false morality teach men to contemplate on their death and use that fear to motivate their actions.  True Christian morality teaches an eternal perspective. When we humble ourselves and trust in the Lord that he knows our days, and our years will not be numbered less; then we can exemplify the patience, kindness and long-suffering of Christ.

I almost put Serenity but serenity is NOT a Christ-like attribute.  Christ has even more patience than Job but we are taught that God does not look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.  We can be content with the gifts God has given us, but we do not need to be content with evil. We can change the evil around us into good but we know it may take a long time. We also know good wins in the end.

Instead of fear motivating our actions, fear of death, or fear of scarcity; the true Christian is motivated by love, contentment, and trust in God's power. When we have obedience with real intent, we can have an assurance in God's blessings. and we then can be liberated from fear and empowered to show love to others regardless of the situation. 

If anyone has a plan to save the United States that does not involve a "return to virtue", it won't work.  Satan has slowly destroyed this country by first demoralizing us just like Rome.  We can do all the educating we want, but unless we have a moral people, the immoral will not want to believe the truth.  They will be like the people of Ammonihah who falsely believed that their great city could never be destroyed.  

I mention this because a very important tactic that Satan uses is controlled opposition.  Satan knows people are tribal and we love to take sides.  So, when Satan starts up his "Destroy the Constitution Foundation", he also starts up a "Save the Constitution Foundation". In addition to tax sheltering money, No one starts an alternative "Save the Constitution Foundation B" because Foundation A seems to be doing so well.

These two forces battle it out. But remember, contention is always of the devil, and fighting it out rarely brings a good result.  And then when the conflict comes down to the wire, the wolves in sheep's clothing divert our attention from the real issues, claim we can save the Constitution by legalizing drugs, and then throw the game at the end.

Well, many things have been prophesied in scripture.  Every one of these things must be fulfilled.  There is no changing the things that surely must come to past.  There is no saving Babylon on Track 1.  But like Pres. J Ruben Clark often said, the faithful will win this war on Track 2. Zion is track 2 and the most important thing we can do to save America and Constitutional government is to work and sacrifice to build Zion and return America to being a nation of virtue.   Because after Babylon is burned and shaken and falls; Zion is going to be the only thing left standing.  

The scriptures ask, when the shaking begins, Will we be able to stand?  If we have been wise and have oil in our lamps, if we have received the truth and not been deceived, and have taken the holy spirit to be our guide and if we are standing in holy places, we will be able to stand whether it be "in life or in death".

Monday, October 14, 2013

Drawing The Line In The Sand

When Moses came down from mount Sinai with the 10 Commandments, he found that Israel had so quickly abandoned the True and Living God, reverting to worshiping the false golden calf idol of Egypt which also involved morally corrupting themselves.  Moses ordered the idol destroyed and then drew a line in the sand and asked "who is on the Lord's side"?

In this past Conference, LDS Apostles have again drawn another line in the sand notifying the world that the LDS Church is not going to budge on the issue of same-gender marriage. 

Our understanding of God’s plan and His doctrine gives us an eternal perspective that does not allow us to condone such behaviors or to find justification in the laws that permit them. And, unlike other organizations that can change their policies and even their doctrines, our policies are determined by the truths God has identified as unchangeable. . . . 

In this determination we may be misunderstood, and we may incur accusations of bigotry, suffer discrimination, or have to withstand invasions of our free exercise of religion. If so, I think we should remember our first priority—to serve God—and, like our pioneer predecessors, push our personal handcarts forward with the same fortitude they exhibited.   -- Elder Oaks, General Conference, Oct. 2013

Despite the proponents of same-gender marriage promising that if they got their way they would never go after religion for discrimination, we are now seeing reports of Christians in the wedding services and in the military targeted for their traditional family values.

A small minority mistakenly believe the LDS Church will eventually cave to social pressure the same way it did on polygamy and priesthood. Those who mistakenly believe this couldn't be more wrong because they don't understand the moral basis for the Church decision. 

LDS morality with regard to marriage has never changed and it is that a man and a women should have no intimate relationship whatsoever unless they first are married. That means if an LDS man were to have multiple wives than he must first have the consent of his first wife and covenant to financially support both wives.

If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. (Old Testament, Exodus, Exodus 21:10)

LDS Polygamy itself is not the same type of moral issue as same-gender marriage.  Polygamy has more to do with welfare and how a Zion people cares for the fatherless and the widow.  Even in polygamy, absolute chastity before marriage and complete fidelity in marriage is and always will be the immovable standard.

I will therefore that the younger women [re-] marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. . .If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; (New Testament, 1 Timothy, 1 Timothy 5:14-16)

The LDS Priesthood issue was not the same kind of moral issue either.  As I have explained before, the LDS Church was way ahead of the time in its opposition to slavery.  This opposition was a part of the reason for the Mormons being expulsed from Missouri and later the United States. 

While I am glad the priesthood is now availible to all worthy males, the initial shift in Church policy by Joseph Smith and them the reversal by Pres. Kimball, did not affect anyones eternal salvation.  But it seems it may have been a temporary organizational necessity to prevent more religious persecution that was threatening the survival of the Church.

The moral issue with same-gender marriage has nothing to do with 2 or more consenting adults determining their living and sleeping arangements. Rather, the moral issue with same-gender marriage is that children have the right to be born into families with both a mother and father as gender role models.  

LDS believe same-gender intimacy is sinful but recognize that consenting adults can choose to live together and sleep together.  However, when it comes to civil unions, same-gender couples should receive all tax and insurance benefits as married couples except for having children together using advanced fertility.  Baring and raising children by both a mother and father is the critical moral issue what sets marriage appart from civil union.

Moving Forward With Unity

I live in Augusta, GA.  When I attempt to share the restored gospel with friends and co-workers, I am invariably asked about the LDS attitude about Blacks and the Priesthood.  Here was roughly one idea that came out of a recent gospel-centered conversation.

Most all Christian religions were guilty of some sort of racism of some sort or another.  Racism has no part in true religion.  God is no respecter of persons but religions are filled with imperfect members as well as imperfect leaders.

That said, I think the LDS Church should be praised for being way out in front on the slavery issue.  Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon both came out in absolute  condemnation of slavery.  Joseph Smith in his presidential bid proposed the US purchase all slaves and predicted the War between the States would be fought over the slave question. Joseph Smith even began to ordain blacks to the priesthood.

America's response to the LDS opposition to slavery was the "Mormon War" in Missouri and the LDS being mobbed and expulsed from the state after Governor Lilburn Boggs signed the infamous  extermination order legalizing the killing of any Mormon found within the State.

At some point, no one knows why, the LDS stopped ordaining Blacks to the priesthood.  The exact reasons were never given by God through Joseph Smith.  However, some LDS leadership have speculated on the reason over the years. Could it be that prohibition was felt  necessary for the preservation of the LDS Church.  

As it was, Mormons were forced to leave the US , the supposed land of religious freedom, for Mexican Territory.  And even after fleeing extermination, the US sent an occupying Johnston's Army to keep their thumb on the Mormons.

Also, let me remind everyone that Blacks were always allowed baptism and baptism is what is necessary to go to Mormon heaven.  Also, Mormons have always offered all ordinances and priesthood posthumously in the name of the deceased.

So, how did the LDS Church who started out so ahead on racial issues fall so far behind following the civil rights movement?   One possible major reasons for the delay is the need for complete unanimity among the 12 Apostles.  If the 12 are not unverified on any issue they do not press forward.

However, a wonderful manifestation of the Spirit was received while in the LDS Temple in 1979.  The manifestation was such that if there had been any doubt or opposite opinion before, minds and hearts were changed and unanimity was achieved.  One such holdout, Elder McConkie publicly retracted all his writings on the issue saying: 

"forget what I or Brigham Young or anyone else has said which is contrary to the current light and knowledge we have now received, we spoke without understanding"  

Elder McConkie humbled himself, and retracted what had said before. And only after unanimity has been achieved, did the LDS Church reopen the priesthood to all worthy male members.  Unlike ecumenical creeds, The Brethren never act on split decisions. Uninimity is a sign of the true Church of Christ and leadership.  

After being initially light-years ahead, the consequence of delayed unanimity was the LDS Church lagged behind the rest of Christendom following the civil rights movement. 

God truly is no respecter of persons. "All are alike unto God" accord to the Book of Mormon.  However, just like the gospel went to the Jew first and then the gentile, the restored gospel has gone to the gentile first and then to all the Earth.  God is not racist but I think God understands all too well how we have been born into a prejudice world.

Ultimately, the Lord's Church moved forward offering the Priesthood and all blessings to all worthy male members when the world, LDS members and even LDS leadership were ready. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Power: Authority vs. Influence

There is no question that women have made valuable contributions in every area of art, science, and religious study.  From time to time a small vocal female minority may ask why women are not given higher positions of authority in the LDS Church.  A few of these LDS women have argued that women enjoyed a more equal role with Men in authority, governance, administration, and ministering of blessings in the time of Joseph Smith than women do today. 

First off, we must remember that the LDS has has a lay clergy.  Callings in the Church including Bishop and Stake President are by assignment and unpaid. Higher General Authorities receive a very modest living stipend and live in church housing many times. However, this pay is tied to their fulltime work during the week managing the business affairs of the Church and not really assiciated with their ministry.  They don't receive extra compensation for going on speaking tours, for example.   The LDS Church also hires legal, construction, printing and other services and pays Church male and female employees for their professional services. 

What is the nature of women's participation in the LDS Church?  In addition to paid professional positions, women in the church hold positions of authority over their Relief Society organization, Young Women's organization and Primary organization.  Women hold callings in the Cub Scouts, music, and can be Gospel Doctrine and Sunday School teachers.  LDS Women also give the Sunday sermons, and prayers during the communion services. Women are not silenced (1Tim2:12) in the LDS Church.

In the LDS Temple, there is wonderful equality were women reveive all the same ordinances and blessings as the men and the women even officiate these priesthood ordinances for the women.  In reality, women receive all the blessings, ordinances and power of the priesthood without many of the outward responsibilities of the priesthood.

When General Authorities (Twelve Apostles and  Seventies) and local authorities (Bishops, Stake, Mission and Temple Presidents) are called, a married couple is interviewed together and called together.  The authority wife is called with her husband and in many cases travels with her husband and they speak and minister together.

What does not happen to women in the LDS Church?  LDS women are not ordained to the priesthood and not given the primary calling as Bishop, Stake Priesident, Seventy or Apostle.  However, as was explained above, if their husband receives a principle leadership calling, they are called with him and minister along with him.  But no, female Bishops and Apostle are not called. 

Remember too, LDS Bishops are not "preachers" and are not paid.  Anyone, men and women, can be called to preach and teach from the pulpit.  The job of Bishop is to make assignments, collect and count tithing, and keep the meetinghouse clean.  Bishop's also receive confession and determine ritual purity.  Bishop's have to sometimes disfellowship and discipline members.  Like I said, if women want this job, I say let them have it.  However, God has determined that the men have to be stuck with the duty of "bad cop" as a "Judge in Israel".

Why does God reserve priesthood authority to men? 1. Men and women are created different and have different talents, spiritual gifts and abilities.  2. The differing talents and abilities allows men and women to focus on different tasks that need to be done and assume certain gender-optimized roles.  3. It is much more efficient for most women to focus their efforts and attention to the duties within the home while men focus on the work outside of the home. 4. Men and women should assist one another in our roles but role specialization is much more efficient way to operate than a 50/50 division of labor. 5. Because church government requires focus outside the home, these responsibilities fall under the male responsibility.

LDS Priesthood authority amounts to receiving assignments to take out the garbage.  Seriously, is this what LDS Women want?  Do they really want trash duty?  Paul says that "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work".  However, Bishop is a exceptionally difficult and time consuming calling. If it were up to me, I'd let women do it.  I am positive that women would do an exceptional and even better job doing many of these tasks.   However, it's not up to me and Heavenly Father has more respect for women than wasting their divine talents on counting tithing and making assignments.

I and many others truly believe that God reserves the priesthood to men only because if women were assigned to the same tasks, they would do it better and leave nothing for the men to do. Men need something held in reserve for us to do.  Men need oportunitues to serve even if it involves talking out the trash, vacuuming the church, or counting the tithing.

Men in the Church also are given authority to give priesthood blessings.  

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (New Testament, James, James 5:14)

Now in LDS Church History, there are a great many beloved stories of LDS women laying their hands on the sick and blessing them im the name of Jesus Christ.  Pioneer women crossing the plains have raised dead and dying oxen; returning them to perfect health.  LDS Midwives blessed mothers and newborns.  

However, I would just point out that in most of these situations, there may not have been priesthood present to administer to the sick.  Also, healing is by faith, and there is nothing preventing any woman even today from calling upon the name of Christ and praying and fasting and even blessing the sick in the name of Jesus Christ if no priesthood was present. Nothing has changed in this regard since Joseph Smith except there is much more availible Priesthood.

But, when priesthood is present, it honors God and God's priesthood authority for women to look to the worthy men around them to administer.  The men need the opportunities to serve. LDS men need to be ready and worthy to exercise our priesthood at any time and place. Sure, in the event that no priesthood is present any woman at any time has the rights to call upon the name of Jesus Christ. But where priesthood is present, women demonstrate greater faith and respect for God's system and the duty and role of men by calling upon the Elders.

Now, my main point of this post is to teach the following principle.  What women and everyone really desire is not authority.  Ultimate authority is not really the end goal.  I mean, who wants all the authority in the world and no ability to make a difference, to change things for the better, and to help others?  Who wants authority but no power?  Authority without power reaps blame.  And who needs all the blame? If you really think about the question you will realize that it's power to serve others and not ourselves that we are all righteously seeking.

The secret here is that power in the LDS Church is not necessarily derived from  authority.  And it's not just the LDS Church that operates this way.  Being the "deciderer" alone very rarely equates to much power to do good. 

The President of the United States of America is arguably the most authoritative and potentially powerful position in the entire world.  However, despite being the ultimate "deciderer", the POTUS actually doesn't make very many decisions.  The POTUS is dependent on his many advisors and their think tanks. Also, as we all know  various big business and non-profit foundations also exert enormous influence on the political process.  

My point is that a person can achieve just as much power, and more, through influence than they can through authority. 

Jesus Christ taught the principle of influence over authority when he responded to the mother of James and John (Sons of Thunder) who requested that her 2 sons stand on Christ's right and left hand.  In response to this great mother's ambition for her son's to be given positions of authority, Christ taught his disciples the principle of power through righteous influence:

but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. (New Testament, Mark 10:43-44)

Obedience, virtue and faith are the real power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Virtue empowers our moral authority, and by tirelessly, humbly, and patiently serving one another any member in any calling or position in the church can exert an enormous righteous influence in their stewardship and even upon their congregation and ultimately the entire Church.  Through selfless Christian service anyone, LDS or other, can evoke the blessings and powers of heaven.

Let me give you several examples of what I mean.  While attending a BYU singles ward, I was called as the Ward Activities Co-Chair. The Bishop may have decided what happened for 3 hours on Sunday.  My activities committee decided what happened all the rest of the  day and all the rest of the week.  And plan we did.  I made it a point that in addition to the fun and sporty activities, we also participate in weekly and monthly service projects.  

Our singles ward had a long-term involvement at a local nursing home which we visited at least every week.  We also planned regular well-structured monthly events.   The result? Our ward members worked and served and played along side each other and then they married each other. Over 35 marriages occurred  the coming summer.  Mostly ward members getting hitched with other ward members which included myself and my co-chair.  I really felt like I really enjoyed a wonderful influence  in that calling that made a miraculous and joyous difference to so many people I love.

Other callings in the Church can really "take over" so-to-speak.  Everyone knows the power of a Relief Society President.  But also my wife as home teaching coordinator has owned several wards.  We have had several Bishop's who would call my wife all the time because she literally made it a point to know every sister in the ward (active and inactive) and their life situation and details.  My wife owns that calling.  She has had it several times.  Any other calling can be just as powerful: Young Women's President, Primary President, Compassionate Service.

If you desire to be a miracle in the lives of others  and be the person that makes a difference, you don't need authority.  You can have the influence and witness the power of God through righteous obedience, faith in Christ, and devoted service and sacrifice.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Jacob 5: Loftiness of the Branches

If you don't know what I'm going to be talking about, please read Ether 8.  We would all prefer like Lehi for our minds to be wrapped up in the joys of eternity but Nephi, Mormon and Moroni all made a clear point to warn future Gentiles of the filthiness of the water.  So, for the awake people:

Some LDS membership are "awake" to the realities of how the world operates. Most (not all) things that happen geo-politically are not accidental (except Secretary of State John Kerry's gaffe about Syria giving up chemical weapons and avoiding a US invasion).  

However, awake LDS members need to take care how we view our position.  It can be tempting to criticize LDS leadership for not being more vocal on certain political issues. A friend of mine tried to make some relationship between Jacob 5 and the pruning of the vineyard, condemnation, LDS members and leadership, and a need for a cleansing.  This "lofty" attitude must be avoided.  If you are awake, then do your civic duty and  prepare for what is to come but do not criticize or second-guess LDS leadership.

In Jacob 5, the period of time when all the fruit was bad was the Great Apostasy during the Dark Ages. This does not apply to the current restored LDS Church (not saying there doesnt need to be some cleansing). The Lord says he was ready to burn all the trees of the vineyard. "What more could I have done for my vineyard". Then one last time laborers are sent to pune the vineyard and cut back the loftiness of the branches. Like John says, Another angel arises saying "Hurt not the earth nor the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God in their forehead". This is the restoration and temple covenants. The temple ties LDS to the good roots of the Abrahamic priesthood covenants involving charity, virtue and humble submission to Jesus Christ's priesthood authority.

In my opinion, the pride and "loftiness" of the branches spoken of by Jacob had to do with the unwillingness of Christians to submit to God's priesthood authority. There are many honorable Christians who reject the fullness of the Gospel because they just can't tolerate a living prophet and especially a local bishop telling them what to do. It's much easier to follow the god in your heart that likely doesn't make as many demands.

1. When it comes to conspiracy, Pres. J Ruben Clark and N Eldon Tanner and others Prophets and Apostles have clarified the LDS strategy. If we get in front of the train on track 1 it will just run you over. The way we win this battle is on Track 2. We need to be focusing our efforts on building Zion. That does't mean individual members don't have a civic duty. I just don't expect the LDS leadership to be doing my job for me. Let them do their job.

2. When it comes to Constitutional issues, the most important issue is morality and family values. The power that Satan has over America began with our demoralization. This is why I never was a Ron Paul or Libertarian supporter. They can speak up all day about gun rights or privacy etc but unless we repent and correct the demoralization part, we will never save the Constitution. 

3. I feel like the Brethren nicely drew the line in the sand in this last General Conference when it comes to issues of morality and family values.

4. Not that anyone does, We need to also submit to our priesthood authority and not be so "lofty" in our thinking assuming our "being Awake" gives us license to second guess our Priesthood Authority and "steady the ark".

5. In addition to Pres. J Ruben Clark, and Pres. Ezra T Benson, No one was more awake than N Eldon Tanner. He is my favorite LDS Politician who was Oil man, Banker, and Canadian Cabinet member who secured mineral/oil rights in Alberta for the benefit of its citizens. Talk about being an insider. No other LDS Politician was more successful in my opinion.

6. I am 100% confidence Pres. Monson is fully awake. He has been an Apostle for 50 years and had close assiciation with Pres. J Ruben Clark, Pres. N. Eldon Tanner, and Pres. Ezra T. Benson. The Brethern know what they are doing.

I enjoyed Pre. Utchdorf's talk very much this General Conference about the weakness and imperfections of leadership.   I happy that we can understand that our leaders are imperfect at times but that we need to still "stick with the ship". The ship is the Lord's and it is the only vehicle headed to our eternal destination. But also to realize that we haven't yet "arrived" as a church.

14 And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people; (Doctrine and Covenants, Doctrine and Covenants, D&C 1)

We are expected to submit to God's priesthood authority, yet our leaders sometimes lacked wisdom, or erred or sinned. But I'll let the Lord judge and do the chastening of his servants, and NOT me.

24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding. 
25 And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known; 
26 And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed; 
27 And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent; 
28 And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time. (Doctrine and Covenants, Doctrine and Covenants, D&C 1)

LDS In Politics:

Sunday, October 06, 2013

LDS Conference, October 2013 Sunday Afternoon

Elder Cook-  People can put themselves into bondage to addictive substances and false philosophies.
Israel rejected God and was scattered.  Protect time for family. Beware of false philosophies.  We will regret diminishing the special relationship between women and children.  We should not force people to act against their conscience.  We need to work to improve the moral environment around us.  If we follow the light of Christ we will be saved from spiritual, intellectual and physical bondage.

Elder Anderson- In the ordinances, the power of God is manifest.  All ordinances invite us to increase our faith in Christ.  Priesthood provides comfort, peace.  Why is the priesthood administered by men?  All are alike unto God both men and female. However, scriptures provide the example.  No room for pornography in administering the priesthood.  "If thy eye be evil the body will be full of darkness".  We do not determine the callings we receive.

Bro. McConkie- Becoming a successful gospel teacher. Have a testimony of the restoration and modern revelation.  Joseph's message to the world is "God speaks!"  Preach the gospel of Christ and not our own ideas mingled with scripture.  Live worthy of the Holy Ghost.  Our own daily personal preparation is the most important part of our service.  Before we preach the word we need to first obtain it. Sons of Mosiah are examples.  Teachers need to listen to their students with spiritual ears. Follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost and let it guide your lesson even if you don't cover all the material.  Stand as a witness of the things you teach.

Elder Hamilton- We need to continually hold fast to the word of God.  Why 3 meetings? Sacrament, teach the doctrine, learn our duty. We should attend church when traveling. Don't be a picker and chooser but attend all our meetings.

Elder Achoa- Beware of delaying our journey with useless pursuits but remember to watch for the signs of the time. Technology gives us false credibility based on the number of viewers.

Elder Vinson- God helped the Brother of Jared with one problem of air but left it up to Jared to solve the problem of light and still allowed bad weather.  [however the bad weather wasn't without purpose, the furious winds blew them towards the promised  land]

Elder Nelson-  Never too old to change.  We are eternal beings with eternal progression.  We are given weaknesses to be humble but they can be made strong. Aging and death is a gift.  Our body is the temple of our spirit thus our spirits are divine and eternal.  We were chosen for spiritual attributes.  Self-mastery places reason over appetite.  When mistakes are made, we can change our behavior and desires.  Sin even if legal is still sin.  We will each have a personal interview with Jesus Christ and we will have to give an accounting.

LDS Conference, October 2013 Sunday Morning

Elder Eyring-  Decisions for family happiness.  Accept and magnify all Church callings.  Become one in marriage.  Love your children even if they go astray.  Joy is guaranteed to the faithful.

Elder Oaks-  We offend God when we have other first priorities. Recreation, political correctness, or worldly possessions.  We can have other priorities but must put God first.   God has a divine purpose for marriage and family.  Concerning trends include decreased birthrates, increased age of marriage and decreased role of the father.  Increased cohabitation and illegitimacy.  All use of procreative power outside of marriage is sin.  We cannot condone nor justify these laws.  Man's laws cannot make moral what God has said is immoral.

Sis Oscarson-  New morality is just the old immorality. Word of wisdom saved me from brain damaging effects of drugs.  You receive no witness until a trial of your faith.  We must act first.  You have the primary responsibility for your own conversion.

Pres. Maynes-  Challenges of life will be for our ultimate good.  Life is a test of our character.  Endurance comes at a price: perseverance, dedication, and self-discipline.  Become the rock the river cannot wash away.  Set aside sin, run the race, and keep the faith.

Elder Scott- Personal strength through Christ's atonement. Lamanites buried their weapons (buried the hatchet) and gave up their lives instead of breaking their covenant.  Sons took their father's place in defense of their families.  Poor choices leave consequences.  Fortify weak areas to create strength by covenant. Build spiritual fortification through repentance.  Magnify callings, serve others.

Pres. Monson- Tomorrow would have been my  65th wedding anniversary.  Francis, my closest friend, and I were sealed together giving the assurance that our separation is only temporary.  Will we falter or finish.  Job says "Man is born unto trouble." Make the gospel of Christ the center of life.  This won't prevent trials but prepare us to meet them.  "Good timber doesn't grow with ease.  The stronger the wind, the stronger trees."   God promises, " I will never fail thee nor forsake thee".


Saturday, October 05, 2013

LDS Conference, October 2013 Priesthood

Elder Perry- the articles of faith are just a lot of words unless we understand the doctrine in them.  Scriptures give us a standard of truth.  The Church without correct doctrine is like a cell phone without its battery.

Elder Funk- Without the spirit you will not succeed despite your talents and abilities.  Soil is broken, Wheat broken, bread broken, sacrament taken with a broken heart will make us whole. 

Pres. Uchtdorf- Sometimes we fall and we think we can't get up. Rising up sometimes takes some encouragement by another saying "you can do it now!"  Godly sorrow inspires change. Worldly sorry is sorry for the consequences.  Godly sorrow should lead to a regret but not self-loathing.  Satan likes to make commandments seem like something forced upon us.  We need to think of them as our idea of who we want to become and not just what someone else wants us to be doing.
Rise up men, you can do it now!

Pres Eyring-  Story of the overloaded priesthood bearer.  You are the Samaritan and not the priest or Levite.  He stopped because he had compassion.  The Lord will recompense you and provide help from others.  Leaders will be blessed who to ask to help and who not to ask.

Pres. Monson- Christ is a good shepherd who knows his sheep and is known by them who leads his sheep who follow him. Christ is  not a sheepherder who lags behind and drives the sheep forward with dogs. If you are to bring a man to God you must first convince him you are his friend.  Hometeaching can be the key that returns someone to activity.

LDS Conference, October 2013 Saturday Afternoon

Elder Packer- Living gospel standards creates a place of safety in a perilous world.   Book of Mormon written that evil may be done away.

The Lords requires that we turn from our sins and he will remember our sins no more.

Elder Christofferson- moral foundation of women. Mother's influence on children is unequaled. When the history of the Earth be told, will it involve gunfire or cradle lullabies.  Devaluation of marriage and motherhood undermines morality.  Equal opportunity promiscuity only serves to liberate men from responsibility but harm's women and children.  You cannot stand for virtue and entertain vice.

Elder Neilsen-  Now is the time for members and missionaries to work together. The Lord is hastening His work in its time.  65 passages in scripture that express strong feeling that end with an exclamation point.  Most involve missionary work!

Elder Venezuela- small and simple things can bring to pass great things. Naaman the Leper was healed.  Go to the rescue to lost sheep.

Elder Holland- Some suffer emotionally, "searching and contemplating the abyss." Pres. George Albert Smith battled depression before his calling.  God's love is there for you.  If we do not take time to be well we will take time being ill.  Seek a priesthood blessing and professional help.  We are more than our afflictions.  Do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it. God can heal a broken vessel. Charity suffereth long, bareth all things and seeketh to endure all things.

Elder Ballard- Scripture commands us to share the gospel.  Pray for missionary opportunities and then demonstrate our faith.  Be positive, natural, sincere in a spirit of love. Their minds may change later when their circumstances will change.