Saturday, July 13, 2019

Near Death Endowment

While most research scientists, and medical doctors; including a vast majority of Nobel Laureates are people of faith, a few vocal and visible scientists like to argue that science somehow fails to measure the existence of God or life after death. However, I think these science communicators are overlooking a fascinating branch of legitimate science into near-death experiences (NDEs) that has been going on for over 40 years. 

Dr. Bruce Greyson is an international expert into near-death experience research at the University of Virginia, Division of Perceptual Studies. Dr. Greyson has personally collected over 1000 NDE accounts from all over the world.  Dr. Greyson and other researchers have collected a mountain of profound scientific evidence in support of human consciousness beyond death. 

IANDS is an educational nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) focuses resources into providing information and promoting research into NDE-related subjects.  

A great example of an NDE is Steve Gardipee:

While NDE's are all a little bit different, there is a common thread that runs through them all.  Most experiencers of positive NDE's consider them to be a divine gift or endowment of 1. divine perspective, 2. divine identity, and 3. divine purpose.  Also, many NDE's support the reality of eternal family relationships involving deceased family members as spirit guides. 

Like Paul's conversion, nearly all these NDE's are transformative.  The experiencer never comes away from the experience the same. Like Joseph Smith following his First Vision, experiencers report having their hearts filled with love for days afterward and oftentimes for the rest of their remaining lives. 

So, if these NDE's are so profound, and wonderful, then why does God only gift this endowment to a select few? Often, the experiences report being athiests, agnostics, a casual believer or even rebellious. Does God bestow a similar endowment on His believing children? 

The key to this is that the blessing of divine perspective, identity, and purpose can be given by alternate means than by almost killing you. In the Book of Mormon, Lehi and Nephi's vision of the Tree of Life served as such an endowment. Likewise, King Bejamin's speech transmitted this same divine knowledge to those gathered at the temple. The Pearl of Great Price-Moses records his vision of God that empowered his ability to later resist Satan's temptations. 

In our day, Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ serve to transmit this same divine message of perspective, identify, and purpose.  Temples also reveal and secure the eternal reality of family relationships. 

Think about it.  When God chooses to reveal Himself to mankind, the message of divine perspective, identity, and purpose is the message God chooses to communicate again and again.  And this is precisely the same message the LDS temple transmits to God's people and why the latter-day temple is true and why the Bible in Isaiah 2, Mica 2, Ezechiel 37, Malachi 3,  Revelations 7, etc. foretold the restoration of the temple would preceded Jesus Christ's second coming.  This latter-day temple would ultimately be Christ's divine mechanism and institution (house built without hands) to bring about world peace and a paradise on Earth. 

It is sad that evil is never far away from good.  It is apparent that the Theosophical Society of America is very interested in influencing the narrative surrounding these NDE's. These TSA members seem to favor interpretation of these NDE's that promote false doctrines of 1. unconditional blessing (God loves all but blessings are conditioned on accepting Christ and repentance) 2. reincarnation 3. medium/spiritism 4. astrology 5. energy healing 6. meditation instead of prayer and 7. minimizes importance of the physical body. 

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Roses and Thorns


I feel your frustrations.  I'm not sure how to motivate people to follow the Spirit to make big changes in their lives either.  If you figure it out, let the rest of us know. I know that we must love people into stuff, but also use reason (head and heart).  Love and reason is is the Spirit of God. Motivating by fear, coersion, embarrassment or any other way is not of God. 

Investigators learn pretty quickly that joining the true church will change their life.  In addition to all the "thou shalt nots", Gods kingdom involves a number of "thou shalts".  People don't like "thou shalts".  People are scared of the "thou shalts." False religion pacifies people into thinking God doesn't have very many expectations of them.  So, its easy for people to talk themselves out of keeping commitment and progessing. 

It is true that all you have to do to be saved and go to heaven is accept Christ as your Savior.  But, as you know, heaven is made up of different kingdoms, mansions, rewards, responsibilities, callings. 

The kingdoms of glory may not actually involve a physical separations. (Higher can visit or do all the responsibilities of the lower) More likely we all work together but like the ER (doctor, nurse, tech), or any work place their are different levels of responsibility. The doctor can do all the tasks of the lower positions, but the lower (nurses, techs) are not trained to do the responsibilities of the doctor.  

If we want to enjoy the highest responsibility, we need to learn to take responsibility, to give our lives to God and like Christ,  have the attitude of Christ where he said again and again, "I came not to do my own will, but to do the will of the Father who sent me".  If we wish to not only be saved, but merit exaltation and the highest reward of heaven, we must be willing to not only accept Christ, but receive/accept/adopt the love and faith of Christ for doing His Father's will. (Charity = pure love of Christ for His Father and towards always proactively doing the will of God the Father in all things). 

Christ was the greatest of all, not for imposing His own will on the Earth and mankind, but because He, completely subordinated His will to the that of His Father in all things. Magic (white or black) involves the natural and supernatural imposition of our own will on the universe for good or evil.  But since magic involves our own will, even white magic is wrong. Priesthood involves the natural and supernatural imposition of the will of God on the universe. 

I have some kids who are picky eaters.  All they seem to want to eat is Raman and Mac n' cheese. We are kinda guilty of giving into that and let the kids always have what they want for breakfast or meal time.  This is called "short-order cooking" as opposed to expecting that our children "eat the well balanced meal that mom or dad has made".  We sometimes give into letting our kids "short-order" other aspects of their life. 

We should respect children and all people and validate our children's feelings, wants and needs. But there are consequences to always letting kids and adults "short-order" breakfast as well as other aspects of their temporal and spiritual lives. 

1. People will tend to limit themselves only to what they are comfortable with and not try new things. 

Just as parents understand the nutrition of food, God understands the spiritual  nutrition of all things and ofttimes puts things on our plates (like spiritual spinach) that we are expected to develop a taste for. 

With abundant screens, and choices, we tend to always let our kids pick what they want to watch or listen to instead of parents controlling the remote control and imposing a nature or history show on them or some classical music. 

2.  Short-order cooking our lives can make people less resilant and adaptible . We kinda understand this when we talk about "helicopter parents" raising "snowflake children", "micro-aggressions" and "safe spaces". 

If we approach situations only thinking in terms of what we want, or how to make the experience perfect for us, inevitatably we will be disappointed. Nothing in life goes as planned or comes out perfectly. When life fails to meet with our exact expectations or something doesn't go exactly as planned, we might feel more anxiety, and stress about it and then become overly focused on those negative details. We can then begin to become avoidant of new situations or situations that are out of our control. In some cases, we can short-order cook ourselves out of living life. 

All things in life (relationships, marriage, career, activities, ourselves) can be likened to a rose bush.  The thorns come along with the flowers.  If things don't go exactly as planned, we can get focused on the thorns and even begin to believe that our whole life is nothing but thorns.  Or we can keep our focus on the beautiful flowers.  Then when we look back at an event or marriage or life, we may not completely forget the thorns, but we also see and remember all the beautiful blooms. 

Mosiah 3:19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

Elder Maxwell said: 

“our relationship to living prophets (God) is not one in which their sayings are a smorgasbord from which we may take only that which pleases us. We are to partake of all that is placed before us, including the spinach, and to leave a clean plate!” Elder Maxwell, Things As They Really Are, P.74

I have several friends who built set about to build their dream homes.  After touring their beautiful homes and listening to the hundreds of details about design, features, and decisions I was surprised to hear that they were considering selling their supposed dream homes not long after completion. Why? How is it possible?  It turns out that it is impossible for any man to build the perfect house, because what he wants is continually changing. So, immediately after building what you thought was the perfect home, you realize it isn't because what you want has changed.  My wife (real estate agent) tells me these dream homes can be difficult to sell because what one person might go out of their way to design into a home might just be a design feature that noone else wants and that makes the home nearly unsellable. 

When some people complain about all the various things that are expected of LDS people. I understand were they are coming from. It can seem like a lot. I appreciate the recent attempts to consolidate and simplify. Also, I appreciate reminders that we are never expected to "run faster than we have strength" and to just "lift where we stand". But, God has a marvelous work that He is bringing about in these latter days. Tragically, there is a lot of work and the laborors are few.  God can defineately do all His own work, but blesses us to participate in it with Him. 

Love and Warmest Regards, 
David Brosnahan