Monday, December 26, 2016

Garden Equity Lesson

2 Nephi 26:33 and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

I am a proud father of 5 girls.  While modern LDS women are among the most blessed and free of any women, I recognize there is not complete equity in all things in the Church. When it comes to priesthood, God has designated different groups to hold and exercise His authority.  Before Moses, the priesthood was passed down from father to eldest son. After Moses, priesthood authority was reserved exclusively to the tribe of Levi.  During the time of Christ, the priesthood was given first to male Jews and later Gentiles.  Then following the Latter-day Restoration, the priesthood was extended to all worthy males. But if "all are alike" unto God, why still exclude women from some priesthood duties? 

While, I do know that God loves men and women equally, and I don't doubt that the current Church could do better to foster a more gender-equitable community, we should take care how we go about suggesting and making changes. The recent policy change to involve the entire Ward Council in planning sacrament meetings was definitely inspired. Our Relief Society, Primary and Young Women's leaders have made awesome and inspired contributions. 

While additional policy changes could be made, we should be careful about how we go about advocating for those changes. I was reading and pondering on the Adam and Eve story and was thinking the issues of gender-equality might parallel the garden story.

God put Adam and Eve into the garden both naked and forgetful. Satan was also placed in the garden to tempt Adam and Eve.  Ignorance is bliss, and Adam and Eve were no doubt enjoying the garden until Satan promptly pointed out their shortcomings.  The problem in the garden was how Adam and Eve responded to their criticism.  Instead of turning to God for help, Adam and Eve heeded Satan 's dietary and fashion advice. As we contemplate policy changes in Christ's Church, we need to similarly take care who we are listening to, and correct any shortcomings God's way and in God's time.

Ether 12:27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Monday, December 19, 2016

True Faith

Occasionally we will have a patient in the hospital who is on a breathing machine who is on four different pressers to keep their heart beating and they are clinically brain dead. However, when it comes to conveying this reality to the family, some don't accept the reality and say instead, "If we just believe strong enough, God will heal them".

I think this is a misunderstanding of faith. Faith is not the strength of our own will or strength of belief in God giving us what we want or to change Gods mind. Faith is aligning our will with God.

And what does God want? God wants to establish a perfect people and society built upon a foundation of temples and His priesthood authority where He can send his children to family who will raise them up "without sin unto salvation". 

When your purposes are aligned with God in this manner, like the Brother of Jared, you can move mountains.  I think this is why the Brother of Jared was said to have such great faith.  After God had destroyed Babel, Jared and His brother desired to establish a perfect society according to the design and will of God.


Matt 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

When we pray, we are to pray over our flocks and fields.  But, do we spend most of the time concerned with personal temporal matters instead of praying about others and accomplishing God's purposes?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Airport Miracle

A couple of weeks ago I took the 2 older children on a trip to Utah with me to visit my family while my pregnant wife and our youngest child enjoyed the weekend in Atlanta with her family. After being dropped off at the airport more that 2 hours from home, I realized I had forgotten my wallet. With an hour before our plane was departing, I doubted that we would be able to get though security without ID.

With less than an hour before our plane's departure, I attempted to call my wife on her cellphone to explain our predicament. Unfortunately, her phone went right to voicemail which meant that her batteries were most likely completely run down and she wouldn't likely check her phone until she arrived at her parents who lived about 35 min from the airport. My wife does have a phone charger in her car which I bought her for her birthday, but which she has rarely ever used. In fact, my wife often refers to the phone charger as an example of a gift I gave myself on her birthday.

As my 2 children and I stood to one side of airport security, and still unable to reach my wife on her phone, I approached one of the airport security officers to explain our situation. Our plane left in less than an hour, I was more than 2 hours from home without a wallet, and my wife who dropped me off at the airport was unreachable on her phone and would be most likely unreachable until she arrived at her parents home. The security officer told me that he was sympathetic to our situation but that they required some form of ID to pass airport security. I walked back a little dejected to where my 2 kids and our carry-on bags were resting. My 6-year-old daughter who was aware of our situation must have seen the discouraged look on my face and began to sob.

At that moment the thought entered my mind and heart to take my children and our bags aside and offer a prayer to our Heavenly Father for assistance. We found a quiet and discrete nook off to the side of airport security and there offered a humble prayer with my 2 children explaining to God our situation, and asking that I would be able to reach my wife on her phone and that we could find a way to get past airport security and make our airplane. After concluding our brief prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, I immediately called my wife again on her cellphone.

As it turned out, my wife answered the phone on the first attempt. I immediately explained our situation, and told her about our prayer, and then I asked her how she thought to check her phone and plug it into the charger. My wife said the thought and feeling just came into her mind and heart to check her phone. She noticed that the battery was down so she plugged it into the charger that I had been using to charge my phone on the way to the airport. My amazing wife then suggested that we might use my son's "Identi-Kid" ID which she told me he was carrying in his backpack. This ID was a professional-looking laminated credit-card-sized card with my and my wife's name on it, our address, but our son's photo and fingerprint.

I approached the same security officer again with my child's ID, and to my relief, and after a pat down and a search of my bags, we were cleared to pass through security with plenty of time to make our flight. Additionally, my wife called her sister who lives down the street and who has a key to our house to verify that my wallet was at home. It turns out that my wallet was resting right where I had set it out the night before with my keys. Somehow the keys made it into my pockets but not the wallet. My sister-in-law was kind enough to overnight my wallet to me in Utah which I received the very next day.

While some might look at this series of events as a lucky coincidence following an unfortunate oversight. I consider this a clear and unmistakable answer to prayer. Although, I do not wish to make a habit of forgetting my wallet while traveling, I am thankful I could use this incident to demonstrate to my children the power of prayer and how we must rely on our Heavenly Father in times of need and adversity. I am thankful to a kind and gracious Heavenly Father for His merciful and loving kindness in answering a humble prayer. Additionally, I am thankful to my wife who i can always count on to be in-tune with and responsive to the Holy Spirit.

While these kinds of answers to prayer are not exclusive to members of the LDS Church, the same promptings of the Holy Spirit that lead me to pray and that inspired my wife to check her phone, is the same power by which I know that there is a God in Heaven, the Jesus Christ is my personal Savior, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God like the Holy Bible and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's true church on the Earth.

(this is a repost of an older story with my son's Ident-A-Kid ID used to satisfy airport security requirements)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

2016 Augusta Stake Free4All

Just a report on the successful completion of the 2016 Augusta Stake "Free4All" hosted by the Augusta Ward. Stake members and the community donated lightly used clothing, house wares, toys, furniture, etc.  Donations were received beginning on Tuesday until Friday night. Tables were set up in every room in the church.  Each room was dedicated to a different category of items:

Primary: Children's clothing
Cultural Hall: Adult clothing
Relief Society: House wares
Nursery: Toys
Young Women's: Books and electronics
Basement: Furniture

Needy stake members were invited to help sort items during the week and Friday evening and had first dibs on anything they needed. Bishops and RS presidents could also set aside items. Then come Saturday morning, the remaining items were open to the public.  Posters were placed around Augusta advertising the event.  People started lining up at 630AM.  Doors opened at 8AM after a prayer. 

LDS Volunteer members wore our "Helping Hands" t-shirts and name badges. LDS Members helped participants carry items to their cars and give direction. Colorful signs inside the building directed participants to different areas.  As items were depleted in smaller rooms, remaining items were transferred to the cultural hall and rooms were cleaned and set up for Sunday as the morning progressed.  The chapel was kept closed off. 

Missionaries operated a table with pass-along cards, Book's of Mormon and helped visitors carry items to their car. 

Goodwill/second-hand organization arrived at 2 PM with a truck and remaining items were boxed and taken away.  Remaining trash and broken unusable/unwanted furniture and items were thrown in a separate roll-off dumpster and taken to the dump. 

We ended the give-away/free4all at 1 PM, finished cleaning, locked up, and drove away by 2 PM. 

Temple Institute

Dear Rabbi,

Hello, and thank you for your dedication to rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem.  I enjoy your weekly pod casts and Torah portions. I am a member of the LDS Church in Augusta, GA. 

I have noticed that you often sound befuddled at Israeli and US policy regarding Israel and the temple mount.  I am equally befuddled at how Israel could give away the temple mount following the 6-Days War? I thought your insight into Solomon judging the 2 mothers was outstanding.  The true follower of G-d would never allow the baby (Israel) be divided (2-state).  And that is precisely the problem, our leaders in the US and Israel cause us to error. (Isa 9:16).   

Without the temple, we have no basis upon which to properly vet our political leaders.   In my view, this is a major purpose of the Holy Temple.  LDS operate temples built unto the Lord and understand something of their value. 

Jews in Russia rose to great power and influence but were blamed for participating in a failed 1905 coup against the Tsar Nicholas II.  Likely only a few prominent secular Jews (Trotsky) if any participated in the coup.  Persecution of Russian Jews followed leading many to flee to Germany (Fiddler on the Roof).  In Germany, Jews again rose to great power and influence.  Certain secular Jews were blamed for making an international deal to get the US involved in WW1 in exchange for Palestine (Balfour Agreement).  Hilter later unjustly used this point as an excuse for the terrible holocaust. 

Jews have the same problem as the LDS Church in Missouri and the US.  The Lord told Joseph Smith in D&C 101, had the LDS constructed their temple in Missouri, they would have "seen the enemy afar off".   Without the temple, they are easily infiltrated by wicked men (Danites) who commit atrocities in their name.  The temple gives us a basis upon which to judge men's hearts.  

Wicked combinations/conspiracy/Hamas prevent infiltration by requiring the inner circles to commit unspeakable acts to know in whom they can trust.  The righteous could never bare to do them. The temple requires its righteous members to perform acts of righteousness which are unbearable to the wicked.  Jesus Christ warned about "wolves in sheep's clothing" and that "by their fruits ye shall know them".  Only the righteous bring their first-fruit offerings to the House of G-d?  

Zechariah prophesies that In the Last Days all national will go up to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Tabernacles or they will receive no rain.  Isaiah says all nations shall flow unto the Mountain of the Lords House and the law and word of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem and Zion. (see also Ezek 37:24-28, Mal. 3:3)

Our current leaders cause us to error.  But by the temple, we are given a measure upon which to select righteous leaders.  No wonder the wicked in power will do anything to prevent its construction. Evil cannot allow the temple to become the holy institution for which it is destined to become to judge all nations and bring eternal peace upon the Earth (Isa 2:1-5).

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Hunting Gadiantons

(Hel 6:37) "And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites."The Book of Mormon not only warns us about secret combinations in the Last Days, it also reveals to us how to get rid of them from our society. First, we are told that we are to "hunt" the more wicked part of them. It is interesting that God would specify that we go after the worst of the worst. Second, we are to preach the word of God among them. But what exactly is the message we would say?

The key here about "hunting" is not a hunt to kill, but a hunt to save. (young lions who carry their prey away safe) Many people part of a conspiracy, are so far in, a few may actually wish they could get out but they feel like there is no hope. They may feel like Sherem that they have committed the "unpardonable sin". But actually, the message of repentance, is that they are not beyond the power of the atonement of Christ to redeem.

The key also, is that conspiracy is great about keeping secrets. It is near impossible to penetrate the conspiracy from the outside to get a clear picture of what's going on. And not everyone who is a part of it, knows everything about it. What we would be going for is to get a CONFESSION from a true insider who was near the top. But the conspiracy loves to sent false defectors all the time. So, how do we know that a confession is true?

Well, according to the example of Sherem and the malefactor who was crucified was that they both felt like they had committed an unpardonable sin, but they both confessed Christ, the malefactor defended Christ, they made a public confession, and they freely accepted their legal consequences without appeal or plea deal (even submitting to the death penalty if required). It is the confession of Christ, the public confession, forsaking the sin, and the freely and fully submitting to their punishment which is the key to securing a reliable confession from an insider.

This is just applying the basic steps of repentance.