Saturday, October 21, 2017

Obedience is Thankfulness

I was listening recently to several lectures and Q&A's by evangelical theologian Ravi Zacharias (modern CS Lewis).  He was explaining about why we boundaries in life and why unrestrained hedonism can never produce happiness.   We know from the Book of Mormon that "wickedness never was happiness".

Ravi was saying that sacredness is necessary for happiness.  And, I realized that as sacredness is demonstrated by our reverence, respect, and restraint; sacredness ultimately demonstates our thankfulness.  And without thankfulness, we cannot be happy. Consumption doesn't yield happiness.  Thankfulness, I believe, is the main source of happiness.   

One critical aspect to thankfulness, respect, reverence, and sacredness is by setting boundaries and showing restraint. Adam and Eve were first given custody over the Garden of Eden which they were commanded to "dress" and "keep".  Keeping and caring for the garden as well as their bodies, and each other demonstrated their reverence and thankfulness for these sacred gifts and ultimately producing their happiness. 

Our worship and relationship with God is sacred which we show gratitude for by never doing evil in the name of God, (Carrying God's name in vain), or looking for safety and happiness in other things.  Our time is sacred and we show thankfulness by observing the Sabbath Day. Life is sacred and we demonstate gratitude by reverencing all life. Our bodies are sacred and created in the image of God, and we show our thankfulness by caring for our bodies, never disfiguring them, and loving all mankind as a brother and sister.  Our possessions are sacred which we respect by resisting the temptation to covet or steel.  The truth is sacred which we reverence by never baring false witness.  And our families are sacred which we show thankfulness by honoring our parents, the honor and reputation of our family and ancestry.

Like love, gratitude is a verb.  If we want to feel thankful and be thankful, we need to do thankful.   One way we remember God and express thankfulness in any particular thing is by exercising restraint and keeping Gods commandments. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mormonism and the Sufficiency of Christ's Atonement

Dr. Ravi Zacharias,

Thank you for your devotion to teaching about the Savior Jesus Christ.  My name is Dr. David Brosnahan.  I grew up in Salt Lake, married a girl from Atlanta, and am living in Augusta, GA. I am Mormon, but have alway enjoyed your insights into Christianity and the reason behind faith.

I am an average Mormon, and please let me assure you, that for me, there is nothing "uncomfortable" about LDS doctrine. I was interested in your comments about the sufficiency of Christ's atonement and Mormonism not being Christian because we had "deviated... from the finished work of Christ".   

Yes, the Atonement was complete in John 19:13 when Christ declared "it is finished".  But even though the work of the atonement was complete, Christ's overall work concerning the salvation of man is not complete. 

Christ still hadn't yet gone and taught the spirits in prison, hadn't yet resurrected, and hadn't yet ascended to the Father. Jesus Christ would appear to and call Paul as an Apostles. He appeared to Stephen and then to John. The Bible then prophesies that Christ will restore Israel, restore His temple, and sanctify the Earth and His people upon it, finally to be our advocate with the Father and present us perfect, in Him, before His Father. 

So, yes the atonement was finished, but Christ's overall work, His grace, His mercy, His labors to bring mankind to partake of His atonement is not finished.  Christ is alive, and He is still anxiously and actively engaged in the salvation of man. 

The Book of Mormon teaches "for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." (2Ne 25:23). In the context of Law of Moses-observing Jews looking ahead to salvation in Christ, this is not saying we contribute one iota to our salvation without Christ.  Christ gave the Law, and "All we can do" is "make use of the means the Lord has provided" (Alma 60:21). Whatever grace Christ gives, we are expected to receive and "make use" of it. That is "all we can do". 

And so it is with the Mormon Church.  Christ continues His work, continues to reveal His will, His word, call Prophets and Apostles, establish and restore His temple and temple covenants.  These are given by Jesus Christ, and do not add or subtract from the "finished work"  of Christ's atonement, but serve to bring us to Christ to fully partake of His atonement. partaking of Christ's "finished work" begins with the confession of faith, but proceeds to baptism, the Lord's Supper, and then to receive His priesthood and to becoming more sanctified in His Holy Temple.  The temple, these embassies of heaven, will be the mechanism by which Christ's millennial Kingdom will, one day, fill the whole Earth . 

Again, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Jesus Christ, various understood and a very few not-well-understood teachings and temple do not add to Christ's atonement but are manifestations of Christ's continued infininte and ongoing mercy and love and labors to make us partakers of the Heavenly Gift. 

Joseph Smith, the great prophet of our dispensation, wrote by heaven's inspiration:  

"the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

Christ is alive, His work, mercy, miracles have not ceased but continue forever. 

Best Regards,

David D Brosnahan MD

As an aside, I think it's pretty amazing that Moroni saw the issue that Dr. Zacharias raises 1800 years ago and addresses it in the very last verses of the Book of Mormon:

Moroni 10:32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Alpha and Omega

Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Jesus Christ declared that He is the first and the last, alpha and omega.   Alpha and omega are Greek letters, but Christ spoke and taught in Aramaic and Hebrew.  In Hebrew the first letter in the alphabet is the "aleph" and the last is "tav".  So, it's more likely that Christ would have said He is "the aleph and the tav."  

One significant meaning of this is that the earliest paleohebrew character for aleph is the ox head and the earliest paleohebrew character for tav is the cross.  Therefore in saying that Christ is the aleph and the tav, Christ was prophesying that He was the ox slain on the cross.

The word את [et] is the most frequent word in Hebrew . It constitutes over 2%  of the words in any text – making it more than twice as frequent as the next word.  את [et] is a structural word that comes before a definite object. It has no equivalent in the English language.  I find it fascinating, that the most common Hebrew word may point to the promised Messiah. 

את [et] also means "with" like in the verse, "And Lot also, which went with Abram" (Gen 13:5).  However, עם [im] is an alternative word for "with."  When God tells Balaam to go with the King of Moab, He says, "arise and go with them" (Num 22:20) – using the word את. But when Balaam actually goes, the verse uses  עם [im] and not  את [et]. Verse 22 then says that "God’s anger was kindled because he went".  This suggests going with  את [et] includes going with the Lord, while עם [im] may not.את-et-the-most-common-word-in-the-hebrew-language/amp/

Friday, October 13, 2017

Provident Living: Bread of Life

Provident living is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christ taught that His Second Coming will occur after a period of tribulation.  God desires that His people be prepared to endure through these perilous times.  Those who harken to the warnings contained within God's word will be blessed to receive His kingdom at His coming.

Matt 24: 29-30 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

As a small part of my provident living focus, I learned a great bread recipe that I can make in my Vitamix blender.  This recipe requires no additional bread maker or mixer. 

King Arthur Flour Recipe: 1 lb. loaf:
2/3 cup warm water
1/4 cup warm milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
5 tsp sugar (heaping)
1 heaping tsp dry yeast

Combine warm liquid ingredients with yeast in medium-sized pyrex measuring cup and let stand until foamy head forms (15 min).

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/4 tsp salt (1 tsp)

If you substitute 1/2 cup of fresh whole wheat berries ground into flour, than use 1 cup warm water.

Add flour and salt to Vitamix dry grains container. Pulse your variable-speed Vitamix beginning at speed 1 and increasing to speed 6 until a deep central well forms in the flour.  

Add liquid ingredients to dry grains container by pouring contents of pyrex  into flour/salt mixture.  Pulse for 2-3 seconds at speed 6 a few times until all liquid has been added. 

Perform a series of 25 -40 short 1-second pulses at speed 6 proceeding to scrape the dough away from the sides of the Vitamix container using a wet spatula.  Scrape dough away from sides of container after every 5 pulses until the dough achieves an even, smooth, yet still-sticky consistency. 

After achieving a uniform and smooth consistency, pulse the Vitamix for about 10-20 seconds until the dough ball rises in the container above the blades and pour/scrape the dough out of the Vitamix container into a greased bread pan. 

Lightly smooth out the bread dough in the bottom of the bread pan using a wet spatula.  Then cover the bread dough with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour. 

Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees F and bake for 40 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Techniques for achieving a crispy crust (I don't do any and get perfect crust):
1. Brush top of loaf with  egg whites prior to baking.
2. Sprinkle top of loaf with water prior to baking.
3. Pre-heat cast iron pan in lower oven rack and add water to create steam during first 20 minutes of bake time, then remove. 
4. Add caserole dish to lower oven rack containing ice cubes to generate steam during first 20 minutes of bake time, then remove.
5. Crack open oven door during last 5 minutes of bake time. 

Cleaning Vitamix Dry Grains Container:
Fill 2/3rds full with warm water and dab of dish soap and spin at high speed until clean. 

How does it Taste? 
The loaf was soft, light and spongy, with a nice crispy crust. Its not wonder bread but the loaf turned out to be about as light yet substantive as I have ever tasted in homemade bread. 

Vitamix can only makes 1 loaf at a time and the loaf doesn't last long in my house before its devoured. 

Next Time:
Grind storage wheat in the Vitamix dry grains container and make either a whole wheat or 50/50 white-wheat loaf.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

2017 October General Conference Sunday Afternoon

Elder Ballard
Jane Manning James, African American Saint traveled to Salt Lake with the pioneers and was a faithful Latter-day Saint all her life.
Remember the faith of our pioneer forbearers like Jane Manning James because we need that same faith today.
Margaret McNeal Ballard and Henry Ballard severed 30 and 40 years respectively as Relief Society President and Bishop in Logan.
Converts gather locally today.
We are tested in life to see if we will obey all that God has commanded.
What is our final destination? Where are our footsteps taking us?
Keep the doctrine of Christ pure.  Do not listen to those who have not been ordained and sustained by common consent or those who claim secret answers to doctrinal questions.
Beware of healing power outside priesthood or accepted medical practices.
Priesthood and Relief Society provide for our spiritual and temporal well-being.  
Welcome everyone making their trek into the faith wherever they come from. Eliminate all prejudice.

Elder Callister
Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion and testimony
How did a 23-year-old farm boy come up with an intricate story and dictate it from memory without notes keeping all details consistent.
Where did he get such profound doctrine?
Alma’s Sermon on Faith, King Benjamin’s Sermon, Allegory of the Olive Tree
God’s fingerprints are all over the Book of Mormon.
It was revelation and not brilliance that was the source.
Joseph Smith coined wonderful living phrases in a single draft.
If a Satanic imspired, how does the Book of Mormon inspire millions to follow Christ and His example and improve their lives and give selfless service. 
I would have to deny the confirming witness of the Holy Ghost
When I focused on what the Book of Mormon taught about Christ and not geography, I gained a testimony of its truthfulness.
The Book of Mormon serves as both sword and shield.

Elder Koch
The Lord expects us in the church to be one despite our differences.
Concentrate on our common spiritual goals like my connection with a disabled World Cup soccer fan in Brazil.
Hearts knit together in unity. Be careful in our comments, labels.
No one is a badly finished product.
Simon Ryder was offended about misspelling his name and criticized Joseph Smith and left the church.
My father strongly suggested building renovation should be done by contractor and was rebuked but stayed humble and helped with construction.  He passed away before it was completion, our family continued to be united and help with renovation.

Elder Ellis
Thank you to the helping hands who assisted with Hurricane relief.  The Lord trusts us with priesthood and keys, restored church, temple, sealing power, parents of children.
Hard is good, makes us stronger
Handcart pioneers came to know God in their extremity.
Book of Mormon spends several chapters on getting brass plates but only a few verses on recruiting Ishmael’s family.
Christ learned by the things he suffered.
Hard is part of the gospel plan like the people of Alma
God tries our patience and faith like Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail
Choose the harder right than the easier wrong.
Cannot help butterfly escape cocoon or chick out of its egg.
Millionaires I work with want to provide easy life for their children. JCPenny told his children that they were on their own after high school.
Flee, fight, or do nothing: do not decide or act out of fear.

Elder Parrella
Will you still be my mother in heaven? My mother told me no.
The missionaries taught us that the restored gospel our family could be together forever.
Conversion required some habit and tradition changes.
The First Vision restored 3 truths: 1. God calls prophets, 2. Love of God who tries and blesses, 3. Mission of Jesus Christ overcoming sin and death.
The Prophet called us at BYU to actively seek marriage. So, I arranged a 2-month internship in Brazil and met and was engaged during that short period.

Elder Ardern
Critics of the Church and Book of Mormon like Zeezrom can eat away at our spiritual roots like a caterpillar.
Members fortify themselves by heading prophetic direction in increasing Sabbath day observance, doing family history work and family prayer.
Turn away from the pointing fingers from the great and spacious building
James taught that the trial of our faith worketh patience.
Fisherman read Book of Mormon while away on his fishing boat and was converted by the Holy Ghost.
Don’t let questions extinguish our faith.
Elder Holland taught to hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until addition knowledge comes

Elder Alonso
Love is a combination of actions and feelings.
Set aside mobile devices and show love by serving others with our hands and feet.
Son Cooper was stuck by a car, received a priesthood blessing, but passed away.
I prayed to Jesus Christ to take away my grief. He did.
We met with the young driver of the car.
We choose to forgive and love this young man.

Elder Andersen
We come to General Conference to be taught from on high.
Unassigned talks and themes are coordinated seemlessly by the Spirit.
Certain phrases are given by revelation and personalized direction is given. 
"You don't know everything, but you know enough" helped me serve a mission and another get married.
Often His voice directs us to change something in our lives.
Elder Hales passed away 3 hours ago and was unable to give the talk he had prepared.
Elder Hales: "Our faith prepares us to be in the presence of God"
Conference is a treasure chest of heavenly direction.
Dr. Nelson heeded the Prophet's call to "lengthen our stride" to learn Chinese and serve the Chinese.  Dr. Nelson immediately hired a tutor which led him to be invited to perform a surgery on a prominent Chinese artist/singer.
President Monson: As I leave this conference. I invoke a blessing upon you: may the messages and spirit of this conference find expression in all you do, in your homes, in your work, in your meetings and in all your comings and goings. I love you, I pray for you, may God bless you.  May His promised peace be with you now and always.

2017 October General Conference Sunday Morning

Sister Bigham

How do we find joy in the face of adversity and natural disasters?

Focus on the Savior Jesus Christ

Christ felt our pains, loss, persecutions, hunger and abuses. 

We must trust Gods answers.

God is our source of healing and peace.

God is more concerned with our progress over our comfort.

We have divine potential and royal promise

Building testimony will be better in adversity than an internet post. 

Reach out to serve.

Elder Hallstrom

Man who fell off a cliff on Mt. Shasta experienced miracles of healing

Another 2 couples who died in plane crash didn't.

Has the day of miracles ceased?

Sometimes there is intervention sometimes not. (Dan 3:17-18)

Are we looking for the wrong kind of miracles?

Spiritual miracles are available to all.

Elder Bednar

Do not neglect spiritual priorities

Don't forget where we are going and why we are running

Sabbath, Temple, Homes can help us remember.

Change in our nature, little by little.

Covenants and ordinances are the means that God has provided

We dress and act differently in the temple.

Sabbath and Temple are both sacred spaces. 

We must bring spirit back to our homes

Don't be overcome by the mundane matters and become partakers of the divine nature.

Bishop Waddell

How do we respond when life provides unexpected paths?

Bro. Shumway blinded on D-day: job, married, bishop, patriarch, mission.

Hope and peace are always available through Christ in any circumstance.

We can only control how we respond to challenges.

God eased the burden of the people of Alma.  They turned to the Lord.

Brazen Serpent; those who looked lived

God will support us in our trials and troubles

Scriptures, prayer, blessings, professional counseling, and medication.

Elder Zwick

Look beyond what we can see

Look beyond assumptions and stereotypes

Offer a reason to hope

Lord looketh upon the heart

Elijah: They that are with us are more

We surround ourselves with those who see as we do

We should be kind but do not need to embrace false ideas

Jesus Christ at the center of our lives will open our eyes

Delete negative thoughts about others

President Eyring

Read the Book of Mormon daily

Sense of optimism and greater love of other

Fear not little flock, do good, perform the work that I commanded you and ye shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven

Teton Dam: where can we go to help?

Miracle of quiet courage

Pioneers exhibited miracle of faith to build God's Zion.

Yellow Angels: Mormon helping hands in Florida

Missionary Service

Greater courage and concern for others

The world will be in commotion in the Last Days.  

The Latter-day Saints will be worthy to receive the Lord when He comes.

Doubt not, fear not; pray always and be believing.

Be persistent and consistent in following prophetic counsel.

The best days are ahead for God's Kingdom.