Friday, December 26, 2014

It's All About Me?

Bro. Boyd Baggett spoke at a BYU-Idaho devotional warning about our prevelant and pervasive "it's only about me" attitude.  We tell ourselves, "the customer is always right" and we are the costumer. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches instead that those who lose their life in the service of God and service of others will find their life.  Self-centeredness drives away love and friendship.  When Lucifer offered to perform the atonement saying "surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor" it was apparant that Satan was only concerned his own honor and not our welfare.

Satan proposed a plan denying us our agency to choose by having us come to Earth with no rules.  Satan claimed if there are no rules "whatever a man did was no sin" then not one of us would be lost.  But the Book of Mormon teaches us that if there is no law, there is no wickedness, no righteousness, no punishment and no ultimately no reward.

Medicine has seen a manifestation of this "its all about me" phenomenon.  We hear in the media healthcare advertisements about "patient-centered care" and hospital systems have been paying millions of dollars trying to increase patient satisfaction.  A study done at UC-Davis showed that increasing patient satisfaction results in increased resource utilization, costs, admissions, morbidity and mortality.

The same "all about me" attitude can be seen in religion.  False religion and priestcraft that is "grace-centered" instead of "repentance-centered" is built around telling the people only what they want to hear and not necessarily what they need to hear.

I love the true gospel of Jesus Christ that is repentance-centered and that inspires me to improve every day and gives me numerous opportunities to serve others and be dedicated to the a cause higher than myself.

Monday, December 15, 2014

LDS Temple: Symbol of Freedom, Family, and Virtue

Many people in this world hope for world peace in for an end to poverty. However we disagree about the best way to go about this.  Tragically, some of our disagreements about bringing peace often bring differing sides into conflict. Some groups think education alone is the answer.  other organizations are dedicated to speading ideas of socialism or environmentalism. The LDS church on the other hand focuses on spreading the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ would take the slums out of people, and then they would take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature." 
- Pres. Ezra Taft Benson

But what is LDS understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Some Christians spread the message of grace without repentance.  These preachers spread the popular falsehood that individuals somehow can find happiness in wickedness without repentance.  The true Gospel of Christ teaches that we must first receive the power to repent through Christ and then receive forgiveness after we have repented from and forsaken our sins.

The answer to poverty and suffering in this world and preserving constitutional government is not education alone, or income redistribution or even environmentalism.  Although there are merits in each of these causes.  The only hope we have at preserving freedom and creating a world of peace and prosperity is a return to virtue. 

Freedom, traditional family values, charity, chastity, and sobriety are the ideals that the LDS Church and the LDS Temple represent.  Why can't just anyone enter an Latter-Day Saint Temple after it has been dedicated?  Because, to merit enterance to a temple, an individual must first be living up to the standard of inward purity and sanctification that God has established with regard to His Holy House found in 1 Cor 5:11.  In the Lord's Temple, patrons make covenants to live lives of purity and virtue.  It doesn't make sense to enter the Temple when an individual is not serious about keeping the covenants of self-restraint that are given in the temple.

The secret to world peace and properity is a return to virtue.  Immorality before and outside of marriage results in illegitimacy and broken families which contributes to poverty.  Chemical dependence leads to greater mental and physical illness, decreased productivity and greater poverty.  Just like Rome, Western governments are instituting socialism and ursurping the responsibility of the Church, which is welfare and virtue (James 1:27).  Today, few western churches provide much welfare nor teach much virtue.  And just like Rome we may well see our own nations fractured as a morally and economically bankrupt empire is torn apart from within. 

Nevertheless, I am thankful for being blessed to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The LDS Church and the LDS Temple and the LDS members are standing for he cause of Jesus Christ.  We stand for Constitutional Government.  In fact, Joseph Smith taught again and again that the US Constitution was given by God.  For the LDS, the US Constitution is akin to scripture and part of our religion.  (Shame on Mitt Romney for never communicating this). The LDS stand for traditional family values, and for a return to virtue.  We invite all to stand with us.  Who is on the Lord's side who?  Like Moses, we have drawn our line in the sand and now is the time for us to show where we stand.

The LDS church his little stone cut out of the mountain without hands that is rolling fourth and growing bigger and gaining momentum until it will strike the great image described in Daniel 2.  That stone,  which is the kingdom of God already on the earth will become a great mountain (or temple), and the principles and covenants of the temple will fill the whole Earth.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Unity of the Faith: Parable of the Baseball Game

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by Jesus Christ via a prophet and 12 Apostles just like Bible times.  Christ tells us in modern scripture: "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."(D&C 1:38).   While the LDS prophet speaks the mind, will, and word of God, LDS leaders to do not claim to be infallible.  

The Lord uses imperfect men to lead His church. The same modern scripture that declares that the LDS Prophet speaks on behalf of God also talks about their weaknesses: "And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known" (D&C 1:25).  We are assured that our leaders will never lead us astray, but that doesn't mean they are perfect and don't ever make mistakes.

The LDS Church has been recently addressing difficult issues from its past regarding polygamy and priesthood.  There is nothing new here. LDS leaders are continually asked about these issues.  When the revelation on priesthood was received in 1978, Elder McConkie said at the time "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 frankly admitted and apologized for his mistake. While the priesthood prohibition was a temporary necessity, the reasons Elder  McConkie gave to defend the policy were admittedly mistaken. 

In spite of the weakness of our leaders, it is a shame when any LDS member loses faith and abandons the Church, their covenants, and their faith over these issues.   The LDS Prophet is like the pitcher on a baseball team.  All the Church membership make up the rest of the team.  Just because the pitcher throws a few balls or even a wild pitch, doesn't mean we should throw down our glove, storm off the field, and abandon the team over it.  Even in spite of a few wild pitches and a handful of balls mixed with strikes, the pitcher can still be throwing a perfect game.  And so it is with our LDS leaders. Also, we should remember that it is not our job to be calling balls and strikes but to play our position.

Another example of what I am talking about is found in the Old Testament.  Israel was wondering in the desert and needed water. Moses was commanded to strike the rock.  Moses struck the rock twice, which was a mistake. But in spite of Moses' weakness, the water still flowed.  We have covenanted and God expects us to sustain our leaders even in their weakness.  And, like Moses, we can have faith, hope and an assurance that notwithstanding the weakness of our leaders, the water will still flow.