Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Provo City Center Temple Dedication

The Provo Tabernacle was a beautiful and historic gathering place for concerts, regional conferences, and firesides.  My wife and I attended several events at the Provo Tabernacle while attending BYU. It was a sad day when the Tabernacle was gutted by fire.  Yet, now it is wonderful to see the building rebuilt to an even greater and more glorious purpose as the Provo City Center Temple.  I am amazed at how any pain or sorrow associated with the lose of the original tabernacle is swallowed up in victory after seeing the glorious resurrection of this historic edifice. 
The messages of the Prophets and Apostles during the dedication likened the transformation of the old Tabernacle to the new temple as a lesson we can all apply to our own lives through the power of Christ's atonement.  

Additionally, the way things are going socially and politically in the US, could this transformation from fire-gutted tabernacle to pristine temple also be a type and shadow of events soon to transpire to the United States of America?

"And the Lord shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the Lord, and he shall be entreated of them, and shall heal them." (Old Testament, Isaiah, 19:22)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Repentance and Usefulness

"If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work."(New Testament, 2 Timothy, 2:21)

True Christian Doctrine is repentance focused. Yet, many churches tend to be more focused on grace alone.  Many false doctrines teach that if we except Christ we are forever saved and repentance is good but ultimately doesn't affect the believer's salvation because Paul taught we are saved by grace through faith alone.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (New Testament,  Ephesians 2:8-9)

But here is the critical point why repentance and righteousness matter.  Repentance through the grace and power of Christ makes use useful in the service of Christ not only here on Earth but also in the eternities.

Can you imagine accepting Christ and continuing in sin? Can you imagine being saved in heaven without being useful because we refused to repent and remain in our sins? 

When we are resurrected and are brought to stand before God, the Book of Mormon teaches that when Christ redeems us we will be resurrected but restored to the same attitude we are in now. If we are useful now we will be useful then. But if, because of sin, we are useless now, we will continue to be useless then and for eternity.

In the Book of Mormon an ancient American prophet Alma (the younger) is speaking to his son Corianton. Corianton was called to be a missionary and preach the word of Christ to the people. However, Corianton misunderstood the doctrine of grace and repentance, justice and mercy; and while in the service of God excussed himself in committing sexual sin.  Because of his bad behavior and example, Alma confesses that Corianton ceased to be useful and the people would no longer believe the word of Christ.  Alma proceeds to correct Corianton's mistaken understanding of grace which led to his sinful behavior.   

"Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness...

O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful....

For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all. (Book of Mormon, Alma 41:10,13,15)

This teaching is found in the Book of Mormon precisely because God knew many in our day would have the same misunderstanding.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Save America: Sabbath Day Observance

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by Jesus Christ through living prophets and apostles. America is going through difficult times and will be entering much more difficult times ahead. With all that is wrong in the world, I appreciate the clear and inspired perspective of God's prophets, seers, and revelators. When it comes to fixing the problems in America, where should we possibly begin?  LDS prophets and apostles have the perfect answer.

With laser-like focus, the message of the living prophets is for America to repent and turn to God beginning with keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Observance of the Lord's Day by God's people is a sign by the people to God that they have not forgotten Him. The power of keeping a sanctified and holy day of rest is that it empowers us to keep all the other commandments.

"Keeping the Sabbath Day will increase our capacity to keep all the other commandments" --Elder Nelson

The problems with America begin with a short-sighted lack of perspective.  America's problems mainly derive from a lack of clear vision.  When our children make mistakes, don't we ask them "what were you thinking?".   When we sin, isn't it because we lose sight and forget what is most important?  Yes, we each need to work hard to be successful, but by reserving one day a week as a day set aside for God, we never lose sight of who and what we are working for.  The ancient patriarchs new that by reserving and observing a holy day of rest gives gives man purpose and cause larger than himself.  Instead of laboring to glut ourselves and hopelessly try to satiate our never-ending self-interested appetites, we instead labor for those causes which matter most, namely: God, country, and family.

In a country that respects all religions, all beliefs, and the free exercize of conscience, keeping the Sabbath Day is not only a Christian-centric ideal.  Christians can keep Sunday, Jews and Adventists Saturday, and Muslims Friday. Humanists can choose whatever day they wish and dedicate that day to serving others and Earth conservation.

When Abraham Lincoln was elected president, many Southern States immediately left the Union.  In Lincoln's first inaugural address, he pleaded with the South to return and all things could be as they were.  During the most difficult days of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, checked out the Book of Mormon from the Library of Congress for 8 months during his "Period of Crystallization".  During this critical period, Lincoln turned to God and realized that the Civil War was a judgement by God upon America for the sin of slavery.  Also, Lincoln expressed in his second inaugural address that not only was the South wrong for practicing slavery, but also that the North was wrong for allowing and enabling its practice.

Oh, how I wish we had politicians and presidential candidates who stood before the people of this nation with the message of national repentance and Sabbath Day observance. Lincoln was not great because he promised America riches, or a return to economic greatness.  Instead, Lincoln in his second inaugural address committed to spending all of America's blood and treasure to rid ourselves of the sin of slavery.  Likewise, only a leader with the message of repentance can hope to save America from the judgements of God that are sure to come if we do not return to Him.

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." --John Adams

Someone once expressed that democracy is great because anyone can share a new idea which will resonate in the mind of the people. Then the people can organize and rally behind that new idea to change and improve our society. However, the unfortunate caveat to this is that truth does not resonate in a demoralized mind. When a nation has lost its virtue, truth becomes foolish and even offensive. That is why democracy can only be maintained by a moral people and why only a return to virtue can save America.  The first step in out return to virtue is the Sabbath Day.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christian in America

I am in Washington DC with my 3 older children.  There was a flash sale on airline   tickets that I couldn't pass up.  Our hotel shuttle driver George is married and a father of 2 children.  His newest is just 8 days old.  He has been in the US for less than a year.  He had a profound story that I think more than all the monuments and museums caused me to appreciate the many freedoms we enjoy. 

George told me that he lived in Upper or Southern Egypt. He was well educated in science and computer science and taught science in school.  After the Arab Spring in 2011, the Egyptian government was destabilized and the country became unsafe for Christians to live.  George told me he had to pay money so that his car wouldn't get vandalized or stollen.  Then he said that his son was nearly taken from him.  He had to fight his attackers to rescue his son from kidnappers.  He was afraid that if his son had been taken, his son would have been trafficked or killed. The attack left him with a deep cut to his right arm.  When he approached the police for help the police almost arrested him for assaulting the would-be kidnappers. 

George knew that he could no longer trust the police in Egypt for protection.  Like so many other refugees, George fled Egypt to the United States to provide a better life for his wife and children.  Because of his poor English he knew he would  likely never work as a science teacher again but be relegated to do  manual labor. But if coming to America meant a better future for his children, any personal sacrifice was well worth it.

George confessed that he was grateful to the United States for our freedom of religion.  He said America was a place where anyone could come and be free to believe whatever they wanted without living in fear.

I asked George if he had heard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormon Church.  He said he had and that 2 Missionaries had recently given him a Book of Mormon in Arabic.  I had the opportunity to explain that the Book of Mormon was a sacred book of scripture like the Bible and recorded the appearance of Christ to scattered tribes of the House of Israel in America to prove that the Christian God is the God not just of Israel but the God of the whole Earth. George commited to read it.