Sunday, December 29, 2013

Agency: ability to choose the right

Since the Fall of Adam, Man has always had the ability to choose the wrong. The easiest way to damnation is to do nothing.  Choosing the wrong is our default setting. Following the natural man, following after our appetites and passions, and doing whatever we want, leads to slavery and death.

However, because of the commandments of God, and the atonement of Christ, man now has a choice.  Man can now do something other than being an animal and following his stomach.  Sons and daughters of God can choose to fast even while we are hungry.  We can choose to forgive even when offended. Man can act instead of just reacting in a predictable way and being acted upon.

Some misunderstand the definition of agency as the right to choose right and wrong.  This definition leads to thinking that our laws should protect our right to choose wrong.  We should be free to use drugs or be immorally promiscuous.  In reality, while our laws should never force people to do what the government thinks is right, they should punish those who harm harm others and protect the free expression of conscious.  

(Recreational drug abuse should not be illegal because there is no victim.  However, recreational drug distrubution should be illegal because it harms the buyers.  Similarly, same-gender civil union should be legal with all associated benefits.  However same-gender couples should not be married which means bep ermitted to bare and raise children because children ideally have the right to be raised by both a father and mother.)

Or in other words, laws that protect agency should: 1. never be against a person's belief. 2. they should punish for caused harm but not try and prevent (prevention laws punish everyone but the perpetrator) 3. laws should never force people to do what the government thinks is right. 4. laws should protect people's right to act according to the dictates of their own conscience. 

Acting according to conscience is not "doing whatever we want" but acting according to what each person believes is good, right, moral, just, merciful, ethical and the will of God.

Because of the commandments of God and the atonement of Christ, all mankind are now free to choose liberty and death. Or in other words, if we do nothing or just follow the flesh and "whatever we want", we will be involuntarily bound to the consequences of slavery and death.  On the other hand, if we instead choose liberty and eternal life in Christ, be are free and must remain free to voluntarily bind ourselves in covenant to the commandments of God.  We must bind ourselves because fasting when we are hungry, forgiving when offended, helping and serving others are not the natural things we do. 

Charity is the pure love of Christ- for our Father in Heaven.  Because of Christ's unwavering commitment to do His Father's will in all things and not His own will, Christ was empowered to be good and to do good more than any other man.  Charity is the opposite of pride and not what we give to the poor but our williness to do and obey the will of God.  If we love and obey God we will be empowered to help others more and better then we could ever do on our own because: 1. God knows and loves otgers more than anyone could 2. God has the perfect concept of what is right and good.  God's thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Why LDS Mormons are True Christians and Not Pagan

Blood Atonement

1. Pagans practice blood atonement. Pagan's believe that shedding blood of virgins, babies, infidels or animals will appease the Gods and bring prosperity and safety . In reality America currently is behaving pagan-like, by engaging in pre-emptive war for safety. Catholics killing muslims or muslims killing Christians is all pagan blood atonement. 

Christ's atonement is the last great and infinite sacrifice which ends the sacrifice by the shedding of blood. LDS accept the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ. LDS receive the Lord's Supper as a sign of our acceptance of Christ's blood and acceptance that only through obeying Christ can we receive the safety and prosperity we desire and NOT blood shedding.  Again, safety and security can only be secured by repentance and a return to virtue and no other way; especially not by war and blood shedding (No, WW2 did not save us from the Great Depression).

Brigham Young was NOT teaching blood atonement in the Journal of Discourses, but teaching how individuals deal with seeming unpardonable sins. Some people believe they are stuck in sin and cannot ever be forgiven. BY using the example of Sherem in the Book of Mormon and the Malefactor crucified beside Christ taught that forgiveness is possible by accepting Christ, making a full confession, and voluntary submission to the penalty (death in Sherem's and the Malefactor's case under the strict Law of Moses).

Divinity of Christ
2. LDS teach the divinity of Jesus Christ. If Christ was not divine, His atoning blood sacrifice would not be infinite. Only God sacrificing His own blood could be an infinite sacrifice.

Not As I Will
3. LDS teach that God the Father and God the Son are 2 distinct individuals unified in purpose because the whole purpose of Christ was that He came to Earth and subordinated His will to the Father in all things: "Not as I will but as thou wilt". It is because of the charity or pure love of Christ-- for the Father that Christ was empowered to be good and do good, more than any other man. If Jesus Christ is the same being and will as the Father than we are saying Christ was empowered by doing His own will. That is the opposite of what the Bible is teaching. Pagan teaches "Do as you will". Christ teaches "Not as I will but as [God] wills." LDS teaches to follow Christ and give our lives in service to God and our fellow men.

Welfare and Virtue
James teaches that "pure religion" is to help the widow and fatherless in their affliction (welfare) and keep himself unspotted from the world. LDS care for and provide for our people as well as humanitarian service. LDS also teach virtue according to 1 Cor 5:11 (fornication, coveting, idolatry, railing, drunkenness, extortion). The LDS Church provides mechanisms to give confession according to the virtue requirements in 1 Cor 5:11. 

Pagan teaches hedonism that you can follow after the flesh and still be saved. False religion teaches that virtue is slavery and that we can still follow the flesh and if we say we accept Christ we are still saved without repentance. True Christianity says we accept Christ and Christ empowers us to repent. Pagans teach they are saved in their sins, Christ teaches that we are saved from our sins.

If we choose to follow the flesh we are bound to the unavoidable consequences of slavery and death. If we choose liberty and eternal life then we must bind ourselves by covenant to the commandments of God. This is the purpose of the LDS Temple. We must voluntarily bind ourselves to God's commandments or be involuntary slaves to the flesh (natural man).

Christian Ordinances
LDS offer the Christian ordinances of baptism by immersion and the weekly Lord's Supper.  True believers have always been baptized by water upon becoming Christian and partaken of the Lords Supper weekly as a sign of their belief and devotion. 

Christmas Caroling
These points are the essence of religious belief.  But with the Christmas season in mind, I just returned from Christmas caroling with my family to several neighbors.  I have gone Christmas caroling most years of my life since I was a child.  What pagan do you know who 
go out singing the sacred carols heralding the birth of Jesus Christ?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Magic vs. Priesthood

Magic is the ability to exert one's own will (for good or bad) on the universe. It doesn't have to involve supernatural means.  Our society praises individuals that demonstrate great skill and ability to achieve or obtain the objects of their desires. Unfortunately, only practicing white or good magic is still wrong because, unfortunately, we don't always know what is good and right.

Priesthood, on the other hand, is the authority and power to spread God's will in the universe. Spreading God 's will is never done by coercive or deceptive means or force.  Priesthood finds its power by strict human self-restraint of our natural appetites and passions.  Also, prieshood is empowered by subordinating our individual will to the will of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

When we say that men should be free to follow the dictates of their own conscience.  This doesn't mean that society should encorage its citizens to "do whatever they want".  Rather, the hope is that our society will encourage its citizens to seek the will of God and their good conscience (not appetites) and be free to follow that. 

Jesus Christ as our examplar was empowered to be good and do good because of His love and devotion to His Father.  Christ again and again told us that He had come to to do his own will but to to the will of the Father in all things.  Christ's example of charity was His perfect love--- for the Father .  It is because of His love and devotion that Christ was empowered to make such a profound impact on the world, which we remember and commemmorate this Christmas.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Oneness of God

It is critical to understand how the Godhead are 1 and how they are 3.

Separate and distinct wills perfectly unified in purpose:
1. God the Father and Jesus Christ are 1 in purpose but 2 individual wills. The 2-ness of wills is critical to the gospel. If Jesus Christ were the same person, being, and individual as the Father, what kind of feat would it be that Christ voluntarily submitted his independent will to the Father? Independent will is the essence of independent existence. Christ expression before the Atonement: "Not as I will, but as thou wilt" is the essense of the purpose of life.

Also, the fact that Christ subdued his independent will to the will of the Father is the essence of the definition of CHARITY = The Pure Love of Christ -- for the FATHER. It is because of the Love of Christ for the Father that Christ was empowered to do good and be good more than any other person. If Jesus Christ and the Father are the same person, being, individual then we are just saying that God loved Himself and was empowered for loving Himself and doing His own will. 

God the Son descends to elevate man to the perfection of God the Father:
2. God the Father and God the Son are 2 individuals in person and being in that Christ can condescend to our sinful state. God sent the Son to redeem man. Many believe that because they accept Christ, and Christ is in them and with them that they "have arrived" at their final destination. They forget that it is Christ mission not to just leave us as we are, but change us, justify, sanctify and perfect us until be can return in the presence of our Perfect Father in Heaven.

God the Father is a perfect and complete being:
3. God is complete and perfect alone. Christ said that we must be perfect as our Father in Heaven in perfect. The gift of Jesus Christ is an expression of God the Father's mercy however Christ was sent to Earth to perfect man, and not to perfect and complete God the Father.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Temple Veil and White Clothing

When God re-established/renewed his covenant with Moses, God desired that all the Elders of Israel first purify themselves and then commune with Him in the mountain and not just Moses. God wanted a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. But the people feared and said: 

19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. (Old Testament, Exodus, Exodus 20)

When Moses returned the people were defiling themselves. And so God gave them a preparatory law.

When Jesus Christ completed the Atonement, the veil of the temple was rent making a partition in the veil. But the veil did NOT fall down but was parted.

Before in the OT temple only the high priest (representing Christ) dressed in white and entered the Holy of Holies. The other priests never wore white in the temple but robes of many colors. Now that Christ had parted the veil, all those who accept Christ and purify themselves though his blood and repentance can pass through the veil and into the presence of Heavenly Father. When John saw the Temple in the Last Days he was shocked to see all the saints in the Temple wearing white like the High Priest. John asked and spoke about it:

4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 
5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (New Testament, Revelation, Revelation 3)

13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (New Testament, Revelation, Revelation 7)

8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. (New Testament, Revelation, Revelation 19)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Infinite vs. Blood Atonement

Cultural Sensitivity Training
There exist a few people in positions of great global power, influence and governance, who are of the opinion that it is neither politically correct nor culturally sensitive for Christians to claim that Christ is the "only way" to heaven. Some of these globalist elite believe there are many ways to heaven and every religion is as valid as another and all religions should be appreciated. In their opinion, believing your religion is superior disrespects other religions.

However, I would like to explain why Christians are unapologetically correct when we joyfully proclaim that Christ is the only "way, the truth, and the life" and "no man cometh to the Father" except by  Him".  Christianity when practiced correctly is the best and most perfect way to live.  If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't bother calling myself Christian.  Being Christian is not necessarily tied to my ethnic identity. Jesus was a Jew.  I am a Gentile. I am not Christian just because its an ethnic and cultural tradition.  I am Christian because my religion is right and true.

Unfortunately, many of us today have forgotten the lessons of history and the consequences of false religious belief.  The result of not learning the most  basic lessons of history is that we are currently making many of the same mistakes.

Existential Crisis
When individuals are left to themselves to ponder, contemplate, and meditate, we almost immediately experience an existential crisis.  Considering the majesty, power and perfection of the Universe and God who is its creator, compared to our fallen, frail and sinful state; most experience very intense negative emotions.  Mankind also fall into existential crisis when we experience our powerlessness against the forces of nature especially after a catastrophic natural disaster.  Existential crisis can be so unpleasant that many people avoid prayer and meditation and keep their minds preoccupied with endless busy-work, clouded by mind-altering substances, or distracted by recreation and music.

Blood Atonement
Throughout the millenia of human existence, false religion has imposed the false doctrine of blood atonement on the people. For some reason, to appease false gods or ward off natural disaster ancient man has falsely believed that protection, prosperity, safety, and fertility could be achieved be the shedding of blood.  Sometimes blood atonement involved animal sacrifice and many times it involved human sacrifice.  Ancient literature and scripture records these barbaric practices. Throughout ancient history false religions convinced their adherance to sacrifice virgins to their gods or cast infant children into the fire.  

Are we any better today? No. We are not.   I don't think we understand the context of how ancient people thought about their  religion. Ancient Egyptian religion believed in many gods named Horus, Isis, Ra, and Anubis.  What many of us don't realize us that these gods were simply anthropomorphic respresentations of the ideas af safety, prosperity and fertility.  Do you want safety and security? Then we must sacrifice blood to appease the gods of safety and security. For the ancient, the safety and security was the true motivation and not the wooden and stone idols representing these ideals.

Understanding the relationship of ancient polytheism for desires for peace, safety, prosperify and fertility we may realize that mankind continues to believe in the false doctrine of blood atonement even in more modern times. During the Crusades, Catholics in Europe were promised remission of their sins if they went to war, fought, and shed blood to redeem Jerusalem. On the opposite side, Muslims in Spain, North Africa and the Middle East shed the blood of Christian infidels for the blessings of Allah.

American Blood Atonement
Even today, Christians in the United States are practicing the false doctrine of blood atonement.  Isn't our society telling us that if we must go over and fight and shed blood in tbe Middle East in order to be blessed with security, safety, and prosperity?  Haven 't we been told its better to  "fight them over there than fight them over here?"  So instead of fighting a justified defensive war, America, wearing our backwards flag, is fighting multiple unjustified offensive wars.   Although most American's don't claim to worship Horus, Isis, Ra, and Anubis like the Ancient Egyptians, can Christian America claim we are morally superior to  Pagan Egypt fighting our "preemptive" wars for the same promise of safety and prosperity?  Are we any spiritually or ethically better in America defiling our young men and women with a sexualized media that encourages promiscuity before marriage and then conducts millions of abortions to eliminate the resultant unwanted pregnancies?

The Great Satan/The Ugly American
My firend who has been to Afghanistan and Iraq says that pop culture icons like Madonna, Lady Gaga, Brittany Spears and now Miley Cyrus do great damage to America's moral image around the world. Very devoted people of faith look at our pop culture and fear American culture abd secularization will transform their young girls to become like these promiscuous and materialistic pop icons.

Infinite Atonement
True Christianity and the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ is the answer  to the problem of blood atonement.  Christians believe that the Son of God Himself came down to Earth as a man and shed His own blood to make one last and infinite blood atonement for all mankind. Only the blood of God the Son Himself could be infinite.

But the beauty of Christianity is this.  All we have to do is accept the blood of Christ by faith and obedience to His teachings (a return to virtue) and we are promised the peace and prosperity we all seek.  No more animals have to be slaughtered.  No more virgins and infants have to be sacrificed.  No more preemptive wars need to be fought.   The great and last sacrifice of Christ ended  all other sacrifice by the shedding of blood.  But, you can't take the divinity of Christ out of the equation.  If Jesus Christ was not the Son of God, His blood sacrifice cannot be infinite. 

Return to Virtue
But just accepting Christ with your lips alone is not enough. Christ taught "why call me Lord, when ye do not what I say?"  So, a major, integral, indespensible part of accepting Christ's blood also necessitates following His teachings.

Jesus Christ taught and exemplified a life of love and service for all. Christ taught the "golden rule" that says we should not treat others in revenge giving back eye for an eye.  We shouldn't treat others based on "well that's how I was treated"  or even "I judge you the way I judge myself".  How we are supposed to treat one another is how we would want them to treat us if we were in their circumstance.

Christianity is a religion of self-restraint. Christ taught his followers to be human and exercise self mastery and agency  over their natural passions and appetites. Animals don't act but react.  However humans have the power to feel hunger and choose to fast and be offended but choose to fogive.  The power of Humanity is not in the unrestrained expression of our alimalistic natures but in the expression of our human and divine self-restraint, compassion, and self-sacrifice. 

When it comes to preserving safety and prosperity it comes to virtue.  A demoralized population leads to poverty. A population that encourages sex before marriage will have more illegitamacy.  Illegitamacy leads to greater poverty. A population that encourages the abuse of any mind-altering chemical for recreation leads to decreased productive behavior which leads to greater poverty.  Homosexuality also creates poverty later in life because partners may not have children to care for them in their old age.

So, with the problem of poverty, the State steps in to provide welfare which is the business of religion.  State-provided welfare does not address the underlying problems of virtue that gave rise to the poverty.  State welfare checks continue to arrive without any moral rehabilitation. Thus State welfare enables the poor and doesn't really help the poor escape poverty. Enabling the poor in this way by giving  welfare without accountability creates more poverty and not less.  The Democratic State then becomes self-interested in continuing inefficient and ineffective welfare programs that expand a dependent voting block. The State learns to depend on the many dependent voters they know will consistently vote to continue their entitlements.

James teaches that pure Christian religion involves both the administration of welfare and expectation of virtue.  Christian religion in America has fallen down in both areas and must do better to both help our poor as well as ecourage and promote virtuous behavior.  

Religion encourages and reinforces virtuous behavior by accurately defining virtue, teaching its benifits and warning of consequences.  Religion has its members enter into covenants with God and the faith community to keep specific laws of moral behavior and has a mechanism for those who have broken their covenants to voluntarily confess and receive appropriate discipline, counsel and rehabilitation. [Self-harm is the jurisdiction of the church. Harm to others falls under the jurisdiction of the State.] Religion reinforces virtue through weekly ritual that reminds the faith community of their commitment to live a moral, Christ-centered life. The congregation also reinforce moral behavior among themselves through non-judgmental positive peer-pressure and creating a community of mutual safety and trust.

The Lord's Supper
Each week Christian religions participate in a ritual ordinance established by Jesus Christ just before performing the atonement.  Jesus Christ broke bread and passed around a cup to his disciples and told them to eat and drink in remembrance of His body and blood which he was about to lay down and sacrifice for the whole human family. 

LDS sacrament meetings are very reverant occassions. There is never any loud music or jumping and shouting.  The Lord's Supper is a memorial, a perpetual weekly funeral service and a solemn assembly.  Bread and water trays are set at the front of the chapel and covered with a white cloth.  It is made to appear that the actual body of Christ is laying on the sacrament table.  The priests bless and dedicate the bread and water saying that it represents the body and blood of Christ and then the deacons administer the emblems to the congregation.  As the congegation partakea of the emblems we are to be introspective and remember the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ, and to recommit ourselves to serve one another and behave virtuously. 

When America awakes from its sleep and returns to its virtuous Christian beginnings; only them will America return to her previous greatness, prosperity and safety.  The US will only then stop being perceived as a global bully rather than the global policeman.  Devout adherants of other faiths will no longer be caused to doubt America's virtue, morality and sincerity to God.  Ultimately, there is no other way to peace and prosperity for America and the world except in and through the sacrifice, example and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Christian Virtue
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (New Testament, 1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 5:11)

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians gives us the basis for Christian virtue.  In addition to Christ's admonishment to "love our neighbor as ourselves" and in effect "do no harm", Paul lists the sins we should avoid so as to not partake of the Lord's Supper unworthily. 

fornicator- total abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity within marriage.
covetous- pay honest tithes and generous offering showing we put God and the welfare of others before ourselves.
idolater- accept the atoning blood and teachings of Jesus Christ
railer- never physically or emotionally abuse others especially spouse and children.
drunkard- prohibition of the recreational use of all mind-altering chemicals. 
extortioner- honest in all our dealings with our fellow man.

What President Brigham Young was teaching in Journal of Discourses was NOT Blood Atonement:

Justified, Sanctified and Perfected in Christ

"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 5:19-20)

Accepting Christ alone will save you from Hell. But obedience, good works, and righteousness will determine your reward/kingdom/crown/glory/mansion/calling. 

On this Earth we learn three lessons: 1. Choose God over Satan, 2. Master the body (keep the commandments), 3. Submit to God's Church and priesthood authority. Those who choose Satan over God (satanists) will receive no reward and inherit "the blackness of darkness forever". Those who choose God but never learn to master the body (hedonists), will inherit the " least" kingdom of God known as the Telestial reward/glory/mansion etc (glory of the stars). Those who keep the commandments are the honorable people of the Earth will receive a higher Terrestrial glory/kingdom/mansion (glory of the moon). However, to receive the highest Celestial reward (glory of the sun), a person must submit to Christ's priesthood authority. Only the valiant in Christ (labor in the vineyard 1hr or all day) who eventually learn to devote themselves to God's will, will receive the highest reward

The most popular religion in the world is the "god is in my heart" religion. Truly God can and does dwell in the heart. But the Living God has organized His kingdom and Church on the Earth with a living prophet and a local bishop. And those authorities will ask you to do many things and make many sacrifices in the name of Christ. Many people prefer the 'god in their heart" religion that likely doesn't make as many requests of them.

I think Creedal Christians and Latter-day Saints talk past one another. Yes, accept Christ and you're saved. But works are involved and follow in the process of "perfecting the Saints" or "perfecting those who are justified and sanctified in Christ". The LDS works (repentance, ordinances, Christian service) are  necessary to receive the highest reward/mansion/glory in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 19:21)

I think we confuse the idea of justification with the process of being "perfected in Christ." Christ gave us Apostles and Prophets for the "perfecting the body of Christ", Christ also gave us scripture also for perfection. 

That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (New Testament, 2*Timothy, 2 Timothy 3:17)

We must receive all these gifts of Christ's grace.  This is how we are saved by Christ's grace "after all we can do."  What is "all we can do?"  All we can do is "make use of the means the Lord has [already] provided for us".

Or do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us? (Book of Mormon, Alma, Alma 60:21)

Monday, December 02, 2013

None dare call it conspiracy

"And now, verily I say unto you, and this is wisdom, make unto yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, and they will not destroy you." (D&C 82:22 )

“Our lives have already become jeopardized by revealing the wicked and bloodthirsty purposes of our enemies; and for the future we must cease to do so.

All we have said about them is truth, but it is not always wise to relate all the truth. Even Jesus, the Son of God, had to refrain from doing so, and had to restrain His feelings many times for the safety of Himself and His followers, and had to conceal the righteous purposes of His heart in relation to many things pertaining to His Father’s kingdom.

When still a boy He had all the intelligence necessary to enable Him to rule and govern the kingdom of the Jews, and could reason with the wisest and most profound doctors of law and divinity, and make their theories and practice to appear like folly compared with the wisdom He possessed; but He was a boy only, and lacked physical strength even to defend His own person; and was subject to cold, to hunger and to death.

“So it is with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; we have the revelation of Jesus, and the knowledge within us is sufficient to organize a righteous government upon the earth, and to give universal peace to all mankind, if they would receive it, but we lack the physical strength, as did our Savior when a child, to defend our principles, and we have a necessity to be afflicted, persecuted and smitten, and to bear it patiently until Jacob is of age, then he will take care of himself.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Six 1843-44 pp 392 - the morning of July 27, 1844)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

2 Chronicles 7:14

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (Old Testament, 2 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 7:14)

I want to call attention to a sermon by Jonathan Kahn at the last Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast.  Rabbi Kahn called America to repentance, called us to return to the God of the Bible and called us to a return to virtue.  Rabbi Kahn also restated the covenant over this land that is found in the Book of Mormon that only inasmuch as we would serve and obey God we would prosper.

This post is not necessarily an endorsement of Jonathan Kahn or his best-selling book "The Harbinger". I think the signs and numerology in the book may give a false impression of how God operates. Also, that certain events were accidental.

The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars. (Old Testament, Isaiah, Isaiah 9:10)

I do agree with Rabbi Kahn that Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle could have been more careful when he choose to quote the Bible in his 9/11 speech.  Isaiah's words actually were spoken in condemnation of Ephraim.  Isaiah was saying that Ephraim, even after being afflicted, would saying these words in the pride of their heart.

For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts. (Old Testament, Isaiah, Isaiah 9:13) (Tom Daschle quotes Isa 9:10) (John Edwards quotes Isa 9:10) (Pres. Obama says "we will rebuild")

So, what is Rabbi Kahn's book about? Kahn recounts Assyria's attack on the land of Napthali as a warning to Ephraim of future destruction.  Kahn draws a parallel between this Biblical warning and 9/11 foreshadowing a future destruction to America.

Kahn says he was drawn to this conclusion when several American politicians began quoting Isa. 9:10 with regard to 9/11 rebuilding projects.  But in addition to quoting scripture, the people rebuilding the "one world tower" symbolically laid hewn granite stone as the cornerstone and foundation of the  rebuilt "freedom tower".  

Additionally, there is the sycomore-cedar issue.  St. Paul's Chapel is the site where, after George Washington gave his inaugural address from Federal Hall in Manhattan, he led Congress in prayer at St. Paul's chapel dedicating this country to the service of God. St. Paul's Chapel is across the street from the WTC but was protected from the building collapse by a sycamore (buttonwood) tree.  The tree's roots have been bronzed and are on display in memorial to 9/11.  But in addition, cedar trees were planted in the place of the sycamore.

There is some more significance to the sycamore tree.  In the Bible, the sycamore refers to a fig tree. In America, the sycamore refers to a fruitless buttonwood tree. May 17, 1792, the Buttonwood agreement started the New York Stock Exchange and in July 1944, the Bretton-Woods agreement established the US Dollar as the world reserve currency.  Remember the cursing of the fruitless fig tree in Matt 21 and Mark 11.

Kahn concludes that the defiant rebuilding without repenting and returning to the God of America and a return to virtue will bring a great curse and future  destruction upon America.  Kahn says the historically low interest rates following 9/11 brought about the housing bubble and collapse 7 years later in 2008. Other actions in response to 9/11 may also likewise come back on us (e.g. Patriot Act, War on Terror, etc).

What Kahn doesn't seem to realize the possibility that any of these events could have been purposefully carried out. While I do think the preservation of St. Paul's Chapel is miraculous, I don't think people mock God by accident. Kahn seems to assume that people were putting Isa 9:10 in speeches, laying hewn stone and planting cedars without realizing the message of defiance they were communicating.
(summary: "Harbinger")

I do agree with Rabbi Kahn that everything the US has done to protect herself following 9/11 which was done instead of repenting has and will bring upon America a backlash.  In other words, instead of fixing the problems in our nation through repentance, we have just dug our own pitt 10 times deeper.

That said, I hope Kahn's book and speeches do more than just call attention to the mocking of God. I hope that people instead feel more inspired to repentance.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Agency: Acting vs. Being Acted Upon

The following comes from a vblog by Brent Larson (link below). 

I have written several posts on agency which explain that agency, freedom, or liberty has nothing to do with "doing whatever you want".  In exploring the true meaning of agency as expressed in the Book of Mormon, Bible and Doctrine and Covenants, I appreciate some great points expressed by Bent Larson.

Bro. Larson makes a few great points about being free to choose.  If humankind allows himself to just react and behave according to his carnal appetites and passions, those reactions will inalterably lead to bondage, captivity, and death.  Being controlled by our genetic and carnal nature is the default setting. If we do nothing, humankind is inalterably bound to the consequences  of captivity and death.  So, both inaction and reaction lead into bondage.

If instead, humankind uses his agency to choose liberty and eternal life, then we must use our agency and choose to bind ourselves to the laws of virtue that lead inalterably to liberty and eternal life.  Brent says the true choice is between choosing the end result of liberty vs. choosing the immediate reactions of sin that lead to captivity.

I like Bent's point here that Satan makes it sound like keeping the commandments of God equals captivity.  So many people are led to falsely believe that the commandments are self-limiting and closeminded.   In reality, keeping God's commamdments is the only path to true eternal freedom.

Satan also likes to tell people that the Atonement of Christ makes it possible for people to sin and follow their carnal natures and still have eternal life.  However the scriptures warn us again and again that "wickedness never was  happiness", "we reap what we sow", and the Christ came to "save us from our sins and not in our sins".   

The truth is that the atonement of Christ doesn't ignore or bypass justice but brings us back to the start where we must be born again, repent, choose the path of virtue that leads to eternal life.  Then God says he is 'bound when we do what he says.  But if we do not what he says, we have no promise.'

Elder Bednar challenged everyone to read the Book of Mormon and discuss with our children how we can act and be agents and not be acted upon.  Those who choose liberty and eternal life will look to voluntarily bind, commit, and covenant themselves to virtue and the commandments of God.  

What makes humankind greater than the aminals is our agency. We are not helplessly subject to our appetites, passions and genetics.  Humans can feel hunger and choose to fast and we can be offended and choose to forgive.

Choosing God and submitting our will to God as Christ did, we are promised that our ability to do good and be good will be magnified.   Charity is the pure love of Christ -- for the Father.  And because Christ's choice of complete submission to the Father's will; Christ was empowered to do more (atonement) and be better (be perfect) than any other person.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Agency of Man

I agree. Agency does not equal "do whatever you want". Lehi teaches we "could not act for ourselves" (agents) unless we are enticed by one or the other. It is Satan's doctrine "do as you will" and the Lord's doctrine "not as I will but as thou wilt". 

In reality, man only becomes free by submitting to the will of God in all things. That is the great paradox. We become free by submission because only God can bestow His creative powers on others. Satan has no creative powers and can only steal, corrupt and enslave. God's people can rule over their own creation.

Since the appetites and passions of the flesh never take a vacation, man would have been a slave to the natural savage nature without the commandments of God. This is how the commandments of God make us free. Without God's commandments we would just be left slaves to our own carnal nature and to Satan. 

Even in the garden, the commandments given to Adam is what made Adam free. Before that he would have just hung out with no choices for good or bad. But this life is meant for us to show and to prove to ourselves who we will serve, who we will choose to love and what we are made of.

In life we choose to whom we will serve. Some will serve the devil. Some will serve the flesh and their own hedonistic appetites. And some will choose to serve God.

Thanks to the commandments of God, man has a choice and now knows what to do to demonstrate his choosing God.

Satan's plan was given by Korihor. Korihor reveled that it was Satan's plan to do away with right and wrong and live under the law of the jungle where "every man faired according to the management of the creature" and "conquered according to his strength". 

Under Satan's system there is only room for one at the top who could possibly do as they will in all things where they rule by fear, lies, deceit, force, leverage, intimidation, ruthlessness and coercion etc. 

In the animal kingdom there is no sin for an animal to behave like an animal. But animals are not agents and are controlled by their appetites and passions. 

Mankind is above the animals. What makes man human is we have power over the flesh. We can choose to fast when hungry. We can choose to forgive when offended.

Submitting to the will of God = Charity.  Doing whatever you want = Pride.  Pride is the opposite of Charity.  Christ was good and did good more than any other man because He loved the Father and submitted Himself to the Father more than any man.  The pure love of Christ was His love for and submission to the will of the Father.  The Father then empowered and magnified Christ's ability to be good and to do good.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Anxiously/Actively Engaged

I work in an Emergency Room.  There are all types of people that come and go. At some point I noticed that my smartphone was missing.  I didn't immediate think it was stolen but rather I had left it in the car or at home. After my shift and after searching my car and at home I realized that phone may not be lost but may have been picked up by someone.

Most Smartphones have a locator service. I used that service to discover the exact address and location of my phone.  I remotely locked my phone and then contacted my phone provider and obtained a list of numbers that had been made from the phone since it went missing.

I then filed a police report and called my friend who is an investigator with the county sherriff's office.  I talked with the investigator and asked if he wouldn't mind to go over and pick uo the phone for me. 

Lastly, I knelt in prayer with my family and we prayed that God would help me get my phone back.  The issue wasn't that I couldn't afford another or that there was  important information on it-- there wasn't.  It was more or a convenience thing and about the person with the phone shouldn't have it. 

My point in telling this story is that I doubted when I made the police report if a deputy would waste their time going after something as insignificant as a smartphone.  However, a great investigator took my information.  I texted him a screenshot of the map showing the  exact location of the device, and in less than an hour I had my phone back.

I didn't press any charges because it is possible I dropped the phone rather than it being taken.  However, I checked witg my Brother-in-law lawyer who informed me that Georgia has no "finders-keepers" law.  If you find something that is not yours,  If you take possession, you must be actively engaged in trying to return it to its rightful owner. 

I believe I was successful in getting my phone back because of prayer, because of the excellent professional help of Investigator Howell, but also because I did all I could on my end to find out where my phone was and who had it before turning the job over to someone else to go and retrieve it.

In fact, Public Safety was pretty much constrained to help me at this point because it came down to the issue of me going to the address and confronting this individual or allowing them to do it.  I even asked the person making the police report if she recommended I just confront this person myself or allow Public Safety  to assist.

23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, 2 Nephi 25)

I think there is a true principle here that all applies to our discipleship of Christ and our eternal salvation.  That principle is summed up in the Book of Mormon when it says we are "saved by grace after all we can do".  But is this saying we can contribute one iota to our own salvation without God?  No!  Here Nephi was explaining why they bothered to observe the Law of Moses knowing that true salvation was in Christ alone and not the Law.  Nephi was simply saying, Christ gave us the Law, so, we will observe it until Christ tells us to do something else.

21 Or do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us? (Book of Mormon, Alma, Alma 60)

In this scripture Captain Moroni is explaining to the Chief Judge Pahoran the conditions of deliverance which are identical to the conditions of salvation. Captain Moroni says that we can only hope for the Lord's help only if we have first, "made use of the means which the Lord has (already) provided for us.".  So, this is not saying we meet God half-way or we can somehow contribute without God to our own salvation.  What Moroni and Nephi are saying is that God has aleady given us grace and means and He expects us to make full use of those gifts and means before asking for seconds.

I really find this principle displayed in medicine with the patient's I see.  It is so much better when a patient is actively engaged in their own health care, healing and well-being instead of taking little or no thought or action in trying to help themselves.   

Saturday, November 09, 2013

My Motivation

I printed out my blog 3 years ago.  It made for quite a stack of paper back then.  I'm sure it would make an even more impressive stack today, especially considering that most of the posts have been pecked out on my iphone.  So, why am I doing this blog and the other at "brainbender"?   

My motivations are several.  1. Elder Ballard encouraged LDS to be active online.  2. I'm an ED physician and work irregular hours and blogging is a much spiritually safer and uplifting activity than gaming or watching TV or whatever else I could be doing in the middle of the night. 3. After writing my Master's thesis I discovered that the power of discovery in the writing process. I discovered that writing is an integral part of the process of thinking and pondering and "studying it out" in the mind. 4. I'm proud to consider myself a total nerd (not a geek) that loves ideas. Ideas are like friends that I enjoy visiting and revisiting. 5. Ideas can change and ultimately save the world. 6. Maybe some ideas here may be of use and benefit to someone else.  7.  I don't take this blog that seriously, the blogosphere is so large, my blogs are pretty much hidden in an ocean of online content. 8.  I like to keep notes online so I can refer back to them (revisit old friends). 8. I absolutely seek never to criticize any decision, doctrine or officer of the LDS Church.  9. Other then my testimony, I am always willing and open to learn, evolve, rephrase, and clarify my views and opinions. 10. I think this blog has been a small and simple thing that has helped me in my personal scripture study, to stay close to the the Spirit of the Lord, and maybe to experience a bit of the administering of angels.

5 And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God. (Book of Mormon, Alma, Alma 31)

Pre-existence vs. Reincarnation

1. It is important that we DO believe in a pre -mortal existence where we lived in the presence of God because, unlike mainstream Christianity,  we need to realize that just making it to heaven is not the ultimate goal.  If we started out in heaven with God, from the start, then the design is to not just return but to return better than we left.  The infinite reward makes risking hell worth it.

2. It is important that we DO NOT believe in multiple lives or reincarnation because we must understand that "the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors". We can't procrastinate and get serious on the next "go'round."

32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. (Book of Mormon, Alma, Alma 34)

3. While we DO believe this stage of mortality is our great and final exam, and there are NO second or third chances to "have-a-go" at mortality, how is eternity still described as "one eternal round?" What is it that "goes around"? 

The thing that "goes around" in the universe is the new spirits that are prepared to come to an Earth and have a mortal/physical experience. During this experience, spirits must learn or are tested in 3 areas: 1. will they love and serve God over Satan. 2. will their spirit master and control their body or will they instead be controlled by their appetites and even genetics (natural man). 3. will they humble themselves and submit/consecrate to God's earthly priesthood authority. (this attitude = charity, opposite = pride)

The love of Christ was His absolute submission of His will to the Father. And because of Christ's submission to the Father, Christ was motivated and empowered to do more for His fellow-man than by Himself.  

Anyone who renders service to others will tell you they will do more for others out of a love for God then they would for the person themselves because they can know God better than they may know their neighbor on their own. Our love is limited by our NOT knowing.  But we can know God, and God knows our neighbor.

The reason Why it is critical to learn these lessons NOW during this lifetime is because you cannot learn these lessons later. And if you have not or did not learn these 3 lessons in life, we cannot teach these lessons to future generations of spirits who will come to their Earth and have their "go'round". We won't be able to give future spirits their "first lessons". Those who never figure out mortality won't be enabled to teach "mortality prep".

[Faith is the attitude and action of obedience and sacrifice to God putting off immediate gratification for future eternal blessings and reward.  The opposite is doubt. Earthly faith is the motivation of a bird that begin's dutifully collecting twigs to construct the nest it can picture in its mind's eye.  Spiritual faith is acting based on the heavenly vision we receive by the Holy Spirit.  This is the "eye of Faith".

Through our faith we have an assurance of eternal reward and will be motivated by hope and not fear that we are missing out on the fun.  Those with a perfect brightness of hope do not fear death, or scarcity or time or resources.  However, they do prepare beforehand for every needful thing and are self-reliant.

Charity is our complete submission to God and God's priesthood authority.  The evidence of this is our works as  those with charity will selflessly do more for others than without that submission because we know God and God knows our neighbor better than we can know them and love them on our own. The opposite attitude is pride or "don't tell me what to do ". 

Many follow the god in their heart because unlike a living prophet or local bishop, the god in your heart likely will not make as many demands of you.  Truely, God can be in our hearts.  But If the god in your heart is not asking 100%, he is not the right god.  The True God expects everything.]

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Sherem and the Unpardonable Sin

When I started this blog, there were certain topics I have tried to avoid.  However, this came up and I think it is important to comment on.

Blood Atonement.
It is facinating how people left to themselves to ponder the eternities and their relationship with God immediately begin to feel a huge sense of unworthiness and inadequacy and fear.  All men are fallen and sinful and fall short of the holiness and perfection of God.  These existential feelings of fear are so powerful that most people spend most of their time busily working, recreating, listening to music, or taking mind-altering substances just to drown out these thoughts and fears.

It is interesting over the ages how Satan has used this feeling of unworthiness before God to control man and justify great sin.  I am not sure why we believe blood can fix and atone and cover our nakedness  before God.  We see that in ages past civilizations have sacrificed infants and virgins to appease their gods. 

Other cultures have been promised forgiveness of sins by going to war and shedding blood like the muslim conquest or the Catholic crusades.  In more modern times, our gods may be wealth, prosperity or even safety and we are convinced to be blessed  by these gods requires we target and exterminate certain groups. All these are examples of "blood atonement" where man is fooled into thinking shedding blood will secure the blessings of heaven. 

Inspiring how the infinite Atonement of Christ ends all this shedding of blood. No more do we have to sacrifice animals or people in an attempt to feel at one with deity.  All we have to do is accept the infinite and last sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Only the blood of Jesus Christ will wash away our sins and cover our nakedness and unworthiness before God.  Only through the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Atonement can man find true peace, happiness, prosperity and safety.

Radio Interview

Ted Shoebat was on Dr. Stanley Monteith's  "Radio Liberty" talking about what he believed were evils of some of the early teachings and tradition of the Muslim religion.  Mr. Shoebat focused on the foundational idea (in his opinion) that some early Muslims believed they could gain salvation by shedding the blood of Christians or others considered "Infidel"(symbolism of the Red Fez).  Mr. Shoebat claimed that that these historic actions were a manifestation of a belief in "blood atonement."

His point was that while most Muslims do not believe that today, according to Shoebat, there may exist a core religious theology based on human sacrifice to appease Allah. Because Islam rejects the infinite atonement and blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, atonement for a Muslim may take on a different form.  While Modern Islam has been moderated and muted by its interaction with the West; if left to itself or supported by the West (like in Syria), Mr. Shoebat feared  Islam would revert back to its more radical roots.

But then Mr. Shoebat then made direct parallels with Mormonism and said that Mormons. "like all cults," also believe in blood Atonement according to the foundational teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young in our Journal of Discourses.  He then said, the Mormon faith has also been "moderated" but if left to itself would also revert back to its more radicalized form involving some form of human blood sacrifice. 

I would point Dr. Stan to the FairLDS article on this subject:
First, the ideas Mr. Shoebat puts forth are absolutely false because Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and every LDS to the present accepts the infinite sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Second. Most Bible-believing Christians recognize that their Bible teaches 1. the existence of unpardonable sins and 2.  The justification of legal Capital punishment by the State for murder.  

The idea here I think Brigham Young was trying to convey is that if a murderer were truly repentant, and recognized that the State called for capital punishment as punishment for his sin, he might confess and voluntary submit to the punishment if there was some slight hope of forgiveness.  

Brigham Young's words were never justifying the LDS Church authority to take life.  It was talking about conditions whereby a murderer may voluntarily confess and then submit to the State's punishment like Sherem in the Book of Mormon.  This is in contrast to the lengthy current process of numerous appeals before capital punishment is carried out by the State.  

Who is Sherem in the Book of Mormon? Sherem was a popular figure among the Nephites who challenged and criticized the American prophet Jacob for encouraging the people to look forward to the coming of Jesus Christ. Sherem criticized Jacob from straying from the Law of Moses and for thinking he could know things in the future. Sherem didn't keep his opinions to himself but made his criticisms of Jacob very public.  At one point Sherem engages and challenges Jacob for believing in Christ and asks for a sign. After being overcome by God for several days, Jacob revives only to confess his sins for dening Christ and lying to God and then "gives up the ghost".  Sherem in the Book of Mormon gave a full confession of his sins and voluntarily submitted to the law fearing he had committed an "unpardonable sin".

Brigham Young never taught that Capital Punishment fell under the jurisdiction of the the Church and especially not for apostasy.  The Book of Mormon clearly teaches there should never be a law against a man's belief.  Apostasy was never grounds for capital punishment. Those of all religions and even former-LDS-turned-critic have always lived and will always live freely among the LDS. 

Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished; therefore they pretended to preach according to their belief; and now the law could have no power on any man for his belief. (Book of Mormon, Alma, Alma 1:17)

Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds. (Book of Mormon, Alma, Alma 30:7)

I think LDS should appreciate why Satan attacks the LDS Church on the ideas that Brigham Young was talking about and the example of Sherem in the Book of Mormon.  

Many people who are part of the Great Satanic Conspiracy get fooled into being initiated and taking the Mark of the Beast. They go in trying to convince themselves that Satan is not real. All they focus on is all the money and power.  However, once on the inside, they feel they have committed the "unpardonable sin". They feel trapped that there is no way out out and that there is no way to be forgiven. So, most just continue on or "Eat, drink and be merry" until the end.  

And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, 2 Nephi 28:22)

Imagine if there was a way to rescue and give hope to insiders such that many insiders would cross over for real, testify and confess of what they have done and seen. (Beware the many fake and false defectors) The confessor would then voluntarily submit to whatever State punishment applied; not necessarily capital. In Sherem's time, under the Law of Moses, many more sins were considered a capital offense than today. Voluntarily submitting to punishment helps us trust the confession.  In a real way, Brigham's Blood Atonement is just teaching the concept of a plea deal.

It is my opinion that Satan hates this idea and it is exactly why he attacks  the LDS Church for it.  Remember how Jacob used the testimony of Sherem to reclaim many who had also been deceived.  Also, this glorious doctrine possibly makes seemingly unpardonable sins pardonable. 

I also think this was part of what was going on when Christ told the thief crucified next to him that "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."  The malefactor acknowledged his sins, submitted to his punishment and pleaded with the Savior for his soul. 

Part of the purpose of the Book of Mormon is to warn, alert and awake Gentiles to the reality of secret combinations and their consequences. But not only that, the Book of Mormon also contains the keys to put and end to satanic conspiracy and bind Satan forever.

By the way, one of my best friends was born and raised by a Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamist group.  He is now an active Latter-day Saint.  He says that their sect has contributed to keeping the Journal of Discourses in print and the anti-Mormon ideas of Blood Atonement were never taught. Their group never taught taking the life of another was ever justified for any reason except self defense. My friend says that had Blood Atonement, the way Mr. Shoebat describes, been a teaching of Brigham Young, he would have grown up hearing about it.  According to him, there are zero Mormon Fundamentalist groups who teach it.

Other Ideas
Thinking about how people get fooled into following the dark side.  Lucas was correct about fear leading to the dark side.  Also, I think Joel Skousen on youtube describes the conspiracy pyramid well. 

1. There are many of us "useful idiots" who help build up secret combinations and support them because of our ambition and because the system benefits us.  We even become too "invested" to think rationally or critically.   The conspiracy gives a good person a good reason to do something and we naively do it without questioning even if the real reason is evil.

2. There are many who don't think too much about the ethics of it all but follow because they are controlled by drugs, money, power, lust, etc and the conspiracy provides these temporary incentives. 

3. The conspiracy makes necessities and basic freedoms of life scarce, so many go along with the plan out of what they feel is self-preservation.  There is never enough of this or that, so the conspiracy can control people by dealing out benefits, payoffs, bribes, gifts and privileges (king-men).

4. After people have taken bribes and gifts or endulged in incentives, the person has become compromised and can be further controlled by leverage, blackmail, extortion and fear.  In fact the higher you go in the conspiracy ranks the more one has to compromise themselves doing unspeakable acts. These requirements prevent infiltration.

5. Many at the top convince themselves that they are doing good.  People do evil best when they are convinced it is good. People tell themselves the ends justify any means.  The ends of a global government and advanced civilization justify any uncivilized acts to force humanity to that end.  Or that God in a cosmic ying-yang needs the dark side who he will pardon in the end for doing a necessary work and any personal sins along the way will be overlooked (Like Liam Neisen's character in the Dark Night)

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Path of Discipleship

Each of us might well ask, “In what ways am I shrinking or holding back?” Meek introspection may yield some bold insights! For example, we can tell much by what we have already willingly discarded along the pathway of discipleship. It is the only pathway where littering is permissible, even encouraged. In the early stages, the debris left behind includes the grosser sins of commission. Later debris differs; things begin to be discarded which have caused the misuse or underuse of our time and talent. ...

In conclusion, the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give! Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory! May we deeply desire that victory, 

“Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father” Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, Nov. 1995, 22-24 

O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. (Book of Mormon, Alma, Alma 22:18)

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 19)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nephite Ark of the Covenant

Don Bradley at 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).