Notes for my writing

This blog is made up of notes on the gospel as found in the only true and living church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes notes that are either excerpts from or ideas for books I either have in draft or may yet write.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Taking God's name in vain to destroy his children.

If you are going to abuse something sacred it is far better to use it for no particular purpose than to use it to directly fight against God and destroy his children.

To use Christ's name as a swear word is revolting. President Kimball, hearing one person do so said "That is my Lord's name you revile". But it is far worse to say that because you follow Christ, you stand by immorality. One is taking his name in vain to accomplish nothing. The other is taking his name in vain to destroy his children.

If it is offensive to use his name as a swear word that means nothing at all, how much worse is it to use his name to profess that his mercy requires that we tolerate, endure, and embrace sexual sin.

A quick comment on the wrong side of history

The domineering opposition tells those that won't curry favor with it they will be on the wrong side of history. Which is ridiculous. A list of those who determined to follow God no matter the consequences could stretch on and on, but a quick few are...

William Tyndale
John Wycliffe
Thomas More

Such a list would include the founding fathers, who may have varied in religious belief, but were agreed that there was a higher source of authority than government and society - a power worth defying the might of Britain to follow.

That list would include Paul, Peter, James, and John

And most notably of all, our Lord and master, Jesus Christ, who bluntly condemned the evil teachers and practices in his society, and was crucified by those he offended.

It is those who curry favor with the world who are doomed to be forgotten as the cowards and lackeys of their day. It is those who are valiant in the testimony of Christ who will be remembered as the only true victors this earth had to offer

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Could we please interpret "honor, uphold, and sustain the law" in the same terms as the person who wrote that.

Our notion that we believe in honoring, upholding, and sustaining the law has become quite different than what it originally meant. It was penned by Joseph Smith. But Joseph Smith frequently disobeyed and outright rebelled against laws that were merely activist abuses of power. This was not hypocrisy. This was a correct understanding of what he, himself, meant when he wrote that sentence.

Don't we all know that Joseph Smith was not lawfully released from liberty jail. He escaped from liberty jail! Can we wake up and actually remember that? Joseph Smith escaped from jail! When we read the statement:

"We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

we need to read it recognizing that the author of that statement didn't feel it was inconsistent with escaping from jail, or avoiding arrest, if the fault could be laid at the hands of activist law enforcement or unjust judges. Sure, Joseph Smith didn't use the word "activist judge". He rightly called them "unjust judges" instead. But it means the same thing.

Even the jailer and the sheriff in one instance had the plain common sense to realize that Joseph Smith was being mistreated by unjust, activist, judges. Joseph Smith said:

"The sheriff and jailer did not blame us for our attempt; it was a fine breach, and cost the county a round sum; but public opinion says that we ought to have been permitted to have made our escape; that then the disgrace would have been on us, but now it must come on the state; that there cannot be any charge sustained against us; and that the conduct of the mob, the murders committed at Haun's Mills, and the exterminating order of the governor, and the one-sided, rascally proceedings of the legislature, have damned the state of Missouri to all eternity."

Notice that Joseph Smith is pleased here that his escape attempt will cost the county a significant amount of money to repair. This was an attempt, not his actual escape from liberty jail.

But we don't have the plain common sense these days. We live a life of bureaucracy, and we are cogs. We think that being a cog excuses us from behaving like cogs. But if a man who arrested, and a man who jailed Joseph Smith both had some common sense, couldn't we, who are his benefactors have use a little of the same thing?

Can't we wake up to the reality that there is a significant difference between our interpretation of the article of faith and the original meaning of it? A plain example is:

A federal court says Utah must start issuing same sex marriage licenses. This is an unlawful law. If it is true that England could not take away men's unalienable rights to govern themselves, if that was outside of what government had the right to do, then it is also true the government has no right to redefine what the family is.

Now it seems extremely clear that under Joseph Smith's reading of his own words, he would not have felt that if a federal judge unjustly decreed that we should start marrying gay people, that meant we should start doing it. Joseph Smith's own reading of his own words clearly did not mean that the right response in that circumstance would be for everyone to bow the knee and start issuing homosexual marriage licenses.

But we READ his statement that way, even if his own life clearly demonstrates that IS NOT what he meant by it.

Joseph Smith believed in rule by law that was rule by law. He distinguished between unjust judges, now called activist judges, and real rule of law.

Even the doctrine and covenants uses words like "the pretended requirements of the law" for laws that were merely abuses of power. It distinguishes between abuses of power, unjust judges, and the real rule of law.

Can't we have the sense to stand up and say, "you are an unjust judge, and that is no real law".

We must ignore laws made outside of governments rights

Once we step away from the foundation of our government we can not longer properly defend it.

Our government is formed around the notion of God given inalienable rights.

But we have pathetically decided invoking the name of God in government is bad policy. We are embarrassed of him in front of other people. We have become governmental humanists without realizing that a free country would never have been created by governmental humanists. It required the notion that there is a God, and that government's rights are limited by what God allows.

Governmental humanists believe that what the government has the might to do, it also has the right to do.

They believe that if a king or congress writes down a law or decree than that law or decree IS law.

And, tragically, these days we believe the same thing.

But the revolutionary war begins and ends on the premise that such a statement is FALSE.

The creation of a free government required appealing to a source of power higher than government. It required to an appeal to God, and an assertion that he himself limits the rights of government. Government cannot just do whatever it wants. It hasn't the right. That is the premise on which our country rebelled against England.

And we have forgotten it ever existed.

Let us be men, and remember that the power of government depends on the assent of the governed. That means that when an activist judge, or even 5 out of 9 of them, makes a decree, that decree doesn't become law. It may be written down as law. But if it wasn't within the rights of the government in the first place, then we need to appeal to a higher source and recognize that law made outside the right of governmental power is not real law, and we have an obligation to ignore it, lest we add our own endorsement to the idea that government actually has power that it outside the rights God grants to it.

God given rights limit the power of government. If we believe in the revolutionary war, then we should at least be able to remember that much.

The government has no power to redefine the meaning of marriage and family

The state has no right to redefine the family. The state is built on the family, not the family on the state. The government is not God, and cannot alter eternal verities. Men can proclaim one thing or another as they will but they do not have any right to change eternal truths such as marriage.

Men did not create marriage and family. Marriage and family were instituted by God.

Men think that because the state has long ago taken power to offer licenses to marry, that it actually has power over marriage. Marriage and family is what civilization is built on, and the state does not have power over it any more than it has power to change man kinds God given inalienable rights. They were not created by the state, and the state has no right to pretend it can exercise power over them.

Friday, June 26, 2015

May our nation repent for the sake of our children

As I ponder the matter of what our current moral direction will mean for my children as they face adulthood I have no question that I would rather our nation suffer as horribly as the Nephites did for wickedess, and repent, than for my children to grow up and live in a country whose government comes to enforce the teaching of wickedness in the lives of its people. In countries that have made gay marriage legal, free speech on the topic quickly starts to tumble

Monday, June 22, 2015

Where did we get the false notion that the church stays out of government and politics?

As I read or hear some of the heavily political talks in general conference in the past I think of the many times in my life someone has told me that the church doesn't get involved in government.

And I wonder where we got that idea. It certainly isn't true. It wasn't true in Joseph Smith's day. He ran for President of the United States. It wasn't true in Brigham Young's day. It wasn't true in the Book of Mormon - when Amalakiah wants changes in the law that will established a king, the church cares about that in the Book of Mormon.

Certainly, it isn't true in D&C 134, which is a revelation from God about government. We hold the truths in that section as revelation. It is revelation and it directly addresses government. It is our doctrine, and it concerns government and politics by its nature.

It certainly wan't true in the days of Moses. The revealed law of Moses is both a civil and religious law. That is why it is called the "law" of Moses.

Truth doesn't change. A current, common practice doesn't change the practices of prophets past.

So I wonder where members got this idea that the church doesn't involve itself in politics. I suppose it is because our current practice is to avoid endorsing specific political candidates in church meetings. But that doesn't mean we can't teach truths about government in them, because there is large body of general conference material by prophets and apostles that directly addresses wrong and right government practices.

Failure or obedience

I was just recalling a time when I was sitting in Sunday School and had the distinct impression that I should go home. I had no reason to go home. I believe our kids had been sick as well as myself some in previous weeks and had I missed church for two or more weeks not long before that as the sickness tracked from one child to another. I put the impression aside because I didn't want to leave church without a reason to do so. If I left, how could I explain what I was doing?

Later I discovered that I had missed an opportunity. Someone had stopped by our house, then left, during church, and I could have done significant good had I been home when they arrived.

I remember that experience as an interesting failure. It was intimidation and self doubt that I chose to heed instead of obedience.

But as long as we live so we have the Holy Ghost we can act in confidence and know we will be right with God.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The glory of God, the light of Christ.

When we speak of the glory of God the phrase can be confusing because it is ambiguous. "Glory" can mean "honor". Many also read it in the scriptures as just meaning something is surrounded by physical light.

When we speak of the glory of God, these are not what we are speaking of. We do not mean honor. We do not mean a mere display of physical brightness.

The glory of God is the same thing as the light of Christ. It proceeds forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space. It gives life to all things, it is the law by which all things are governed. It is the means through which God controls all things, and the means through which all things past, present, and future are continually before him. (D&C 88).

When we read in Moses 1 that the glory of the Lord was upon Moses, therefore Moses could endure his presence, we are seeing God's power being exercised to preserve Moses. But there is more as well. When we are in the presence of God, that glory is upon us and truth is manifest to us through it in a measure the way that all truth is manifest before God. 

In fact, from the scriptures it appears that when the Lord's glory is upon someone, they can behold things through it in a way similar to the way God himself can. Consider these verses:

Moses 1:2 And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.
 5 Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.

To behold all of God's works would be to see them as God does himself, and to do that requires beholding, or enjoying, the full glory of God. We are then told that such an individual cannot remain in the flesh on the earth. 

Continuing the account we read:

Moses 1:8 And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered.
 9 And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.

When a man is transfigured to stand in God's presence, the Lord's glory must be upon him and the man can perceive things with that glory in a manner as only God can. Moses here has just beheld the world and the ends thereof and all the children of men. This is not how mortal man sees the world. It was this ability at which Moses greatly marveled and wondered. He had never experienced anything like it. Through God's glory he was enabled to look and perceive each of the people of the earth just as God himself did. 

Moses was struck by the huge contrast here between the resurrected body of the Father, and the mortal body of Moses. His body could not even endure God's glory without being transfigured. Moses experiences a portion of how God can see every person on earth individually and learns that he cannot experience that himself in his mortal frame and "remain in the flesh on the earth". Thus his mortal body is limited in ways he hadn't recognized compared to God's resurrected body, and it is this that he is referring to when he says "Now I know that man is nothing". 

Having partaken, to a small degree, of the power and glory of God himself, by perceiving the world through the light of Christ, Moses is then approached by Satan. And Moses's response is indicative of what he just learned. He asks Satan where his glory is. He says he will only worship the god of glory. When Moses says this, his point is that he will only worsihp that God who has all power and sees and knows all things past, present, and future.

We see a similar account when Enoch stands in the Lord's presence. The lord tells him to "look" and Enoch can see and describe the future.

And the glory be mine is not a statement of Lucifer wanting credit or honor for a task, it is a statement of wanting to take the Father's power. His glory is the light of Christ, which is the means by which he is in and through all things, and the means by which he knows all things and controls all things. Lucifer didn't want to just take credit and honor. Lucifer wanted to take the Father's power. He wanted to take the Father's place.

We see the same principle in the three "temptations" of Christ. The Joseph Smith translation significantly clarifies the account. It is not Satan that shows Christ the world. It is actually much like the account of Moses, who saw all the particles of the earth at once. Just as Moses stands in the presence of the Lord seeing and perceiving through the light of Christ, and is then confronted by Lucifer, so also during the "temptations" of Christ we read of Christ beholding the whole world as only God can perceive it, and then being confronted by Lucifer.

And so also, in the first vision, we have God appearing to young Joseph, as well as an open confrontation with Lucifer.

The story of Elijah who percieves the Lord not in the wind or the earthquake or the fire, but in the still small voice. While this is an extremely cursory account, it appears that it is probably another story like that of Moses 1 and the first vision in which the bitterness of hell openly manifests itself, and also the presence of God does as well.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Carving away liberty for security and convenience

We have been carving away so long at our liberties to exchange for more security here and more convenience there that we can no longer even tell what they originally looked like, or even slow the pace of our own cutting.
Where once a massive oak tree stood, now a skeleton remains. Where others lounged beneath its leafy shade, now we huddle together where the bare branches best combine against the sun.
And most pretend they do not hear it creak and groan and strain with each new gust of wind.

Care of the poor needs to be in the hands of individuals, not government

Socialist government purports to be about big government taking care of the people. But that puts a lot of power in the hands of the government. And one thing that defines our constitution is the recurring theme of taming and controlling the power of government, rather than enhancing it. And what do we see big government doing now? It is no longer even pretending that it isn't planning to provide free wealth in exchange for votes. It is almost brazen about the fact that voting for liberals means that poorer people will be provided for yet even more generously by the government. I staunchly believe in the individual need to care for the poor. I believe care for the poor isn't a temporal principle, it is a fundamental saving principle. The scripture that states that we cannot be made equal in heavenly things if we are not equal in earthly things means that we cannot be made joint heirs with Christ if we are not equal in earthly things. But I believe this equalization is a sacred matter both for the rich and the poor, and that it loses its sanctifying effect on both the rich and the poor when it is done by the government by force. It is no different than if the government was to start forcing citizens to pay their tithing. Sure, tithing would be paid. No problems there. But the blessings of paying tithing would largely be lost. The purpose of tithing isn't to give the Lord money. He could provide it without our help. The purpose of tithing is to prepare the hearts and minds of the people for consecration. If tithing is not given as a free offering, the spiritual benefits and blessings of tithing are gone and it serves no purpose. When the government takes over the care of the poor by force, then we have lost both sides of the battle. The poor are cared for, but there is nothing sanctifying about it. The rich care for the poor by paying taxes, but the affect on the heart and soul is gone. When the government enforces it, the rich lose even more interest in the poor than they might have had and a perverse reversal takes place where the rich hold more tightly to their money, and the poor grab after it all the more greedily and often all the more slovenly, which is exactly what we are seeing today. This reversal takes place because there is no sanctification happening in the exchange - there can be no sanctification if it is not given as a free offering. The Lord who notes the sparrow's fall could care for the poor as easily as he could care for his church. He could fill their pockets with diamonds and gold. But he does not, because he gives us rich and poor to serve a fundamental purpose. The purpose is not financial. The purpose is to sanctify willing individuals through sacrifice and personal gratitude that can be brought about in no other way. "A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never had the power to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation." (Joseph Smith) Yes, absolutely, the rich are the answer to poverty. The answer is not for the rich to give much, but to still have much. It is for the rich to give so that there are no poor among us. It is for the poor to be exalted in that the rich are made low. And choosing that is critical to building Zion, because in Zion there are "no poor among them". But it is critical to Zion not as a Zion by-law, but because of its power to sanctify and build Zion in the individuals who submit to it. We must recognize that the right to care for the poor must be restored to the individuals, so that the rich can learn not only to give, but to care. It is in that caring that Lord can change hearts. When we enforce it, we lose the blessings as surely as if the government was taking our tithing and giving it to the church in our behalf. No faith is developed. No charity is developed. No connection to God and one's fellow man is developed. Instead evil men incite greed to rise to power on the backs of the poor who will put them in office no matter their politics all in exchange for another man's bread. The statement that being equal in earthly things is necessary to be equal in heavenly things is a statement about a condition of the souls that must be reached by the rich giving to the poor so that both are edified by the exchange. When the rich give generously, not like the Phariesees in the temple, who gave much but still had much, but rather when they truly give generously enough that the poor are exalted in that the rich are made low, and there are no longer any poor among them, then the sanctifying effects on both rich and poor are brough to pass, they have become equal in earthly things, and if they will keep the other commandments they can be made equal in heavenly things, they can be joint heirs with Christ..

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Not Commanded in All Things talk by Ezra Taft Benson April 1965

Not Commanded in All Things
Elder Ezra Taft Benson
Of the Council of the Twelve Apostles
Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1965, pp. 121-125

In 1831 the Lord said this to his Church:

"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

"Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

"For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

"But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned" (D&C 58:26-29).

The purposes of the Lord—the great objectives—continue the same: the salvation and exaltation of his children.

Objectives and Guide Lines

Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods. The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit. Less spiritually advanced people, such as those in the days of Moses, had to be commanded in many things. Today those spiritually alert look at the objectives, check the guidelines laid down by the Lord and his prophets, and then prayerfully act—without having to be commanded "in all things." This attitude prepares men for godhood.

The overall objective to be accomplished in missionary work, temple work, providing for the needy, and bringing up our children in righteousness has always been the same; only our methods to accomplish these objectives have varied. Any faithful member in this dispensation, no matter when he lived, could have found righteous methods to have carried out these objectives without having to wait for the latest, specific church-wide program.

His Children To Act on Their Own Initiative and Responsibility

Sometimes the Lord hopefully waits on his children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater prize, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences or else he will have to spell it out in greater detail. Usually, I fear, the more he has to spell it out, the smaller is our reward.

Often, because of circumstances, the Lord, through revelation to his prophets or through inspired programs designed by faithful members which later become adopted on a church-wide basis, will give to all the membership a righteous means to help accomplish the objective; for instance, any member of the Church a century ago who studied church doctrine would have known that he had the prime responsibility to see that his children had spiritualized family recreation and were taught in the home lessons in character building and gospel principles. But some did not do it.

The Home Evening

Then, in 1915 President Joseph F. Smith introduced, church-wide, the "weekly home evening program" with promised blessings to all who faithfully adopted it. Many refused and lost the promised blessings. (At the October conference, 1947, I referred to that promise in a talk on the Family Home Evening.) Today we have the home evening manual and other helps. Yet some still refuse to bring up their children in righteousness.

But there are some today who complain that the home evening manual should have been issued years ago. If this is true then the Lord will hold his servants accountable, but no one can say that from the inception of the Church up to the present day the Lord through his Spirit to the individual members and through his spokesmen, the prophets, has not given us the objectives and plenty of guidelines and counsel. The fact that some of us have not done much about it even when it is spelled out in detail is not the Lord's fault.

For years we have been counseled to have on hand a year's supply of food. Yet there are some today who will not start storing until the Church comes out with a detailed monthly home storage program. Now suppose that never happens. We still cannot say we have not been told.

Should the Lord decide at this time to cleanse the Church—and the need for that cleansing seems to be increasing—a famine in this land of one year's duration could wipe out a large percentage of slothful members, including some ward and stake officers. Yet we cannot say we have not been warned.

Another warning: You and I sustain one man on this earth as God's mouthpiece—President David O. McKay—one of the greatest seers who has ever walked this earth. We do not need a prophet—we have one—what we desperately need is a listening ear.

Warnings of Threats to Freedom

Should it be of concern to us when the mouthpiece of the Lord keeps constantly and consistently raising his voice of warning about the loss of our freedom as he has over the years? There are two unrighteous ways to deal with his prophetic words of warning: you can fight them or you can ignore them. Either course will bring you disaster in the long run.

Hear his words: "No greater immediate responsibility rests upon members of the Church, upon all citizens of this Republic and of neighboring Republics than to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States." (Cited in Jerreld L. Newquist, Prophets, Principles and National Survival [SLC: Publishers Press, 1964], p. 157.) As important as are all other principles of the gospel, it was the freedom issue which determined whether you received a body. To have been on the wrong side of the freedom issue during the war in heaven meant eternal damnation. How then can Latter-day Saints expect to be on the wrong side in this life and escape the eternal consequences? The war in heaven is raging on earth today. The issues are the same: "Shall men be compelled to do what others claim is for their best welfare" or will they heed the counsel of the prophet and preserve their freedom?

Satan argued that men given their freedom would not choose correctly, therefore he would compel them to do right and save us all. Today Satan argues that men given their freedom do not choose wisely; therefore a so-called brilliant, benevolent few must establish the welfare government and force us into a greater socialistic society. We are assured of being led into the promised land as long as we let them put a golden ring in our nose. In the end we lose our freedom and the promised land also. No matter what you call it—communism, socialism, or the welfare state—our freedom is sacrificed. We believe the gospel is the greatest thing in the world; why then do we not force people to join the Church if they are not smart enough to see it on their own? Because this is Satan's way, not the Lord's plan. The Lord uses persuasion and love.

Hear again the words of God's mouthpiece: "Today two mighty forces are battling for the supremacy of the world. The destiny of mankind is in the balance. It is a question of God and liberty, or atheism and slavery . . .

"Those forces are known and have been designated by Satan on the one hand, and Christ on the other.

"In Joshua's time they were called 'gods of the Amorites,' for one, and 'the Lord' on the other . . . In these days, they are called 'domination by the state,' on one hand, 'personal liberty,' on the other; communism on one, free agency on the other" (Ibid., pp. 215-216).

Now, the Lord knew that before the gospel could flourish there must first be an atmosphere of freedom. This is why he first established the Constitution of this land through gentiles whom he raised up (D&C 101:80) before he restored the gospel. In how many communist countries today are we doing missionary work, building chapels, etc.? And yet practically every one of those countries have been pushed into communism and kept under communism with the great assistance of evil forces which have and are operating within our own country and neighboring lands.

Yes, were it not for the tragic policies of governments—including our own—tens of millions of people murdered and hundreds of millions enslaved since World War II would be alive and free today to receive the restored gospel.

President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., put it clearly and courageously when he said:

"Reduced to its lowest terms, the great struggle which now rocks the whole earth more and more takes on the character of a struggle of the individual versus the state . . .

"This gigantic worldwide struggle, more and more takes on the form of a war to the death. We shall do well and wisely so to face and so to enter it. And we must all take part. Indeed, we all are taking part in that struggle, whether we will or not. Upon its final issue, liberty lives or dies . . . The plain and simple issue now facing us in America is freedom or slavery . . . We have largely lost the conflict so far waged. But there is time to win the final victory, if we sense our danger, and fight." (Ibid., pp. 318, 327-328.)

Now where do we stand in this struggle, and what are we doing about it?

The devil knows that if the elders of Israel should ever wake up, they could step forth and help preserve freedom and extend the gospel. Therefore the devil has concentrated, and to a large extent successfully, in neutralizing much of the priesthood. He has reduced them to sleeping giants. His arguments are clever.

Here are a few samples:

First: "We really haven't received much instruction about freedom," the devil says. This is a lie, for we have been warned time and again. No prophet of the Lord has ever issued more solemn warning than President David O. McKay. Last conference I spoke of a book embodying much of the prophets' warnings on freedom from Joseph Smith to David O. McKay which I commend to you. It is entitled Prophets, Principles, and National Survival.

Second: "You're too involved in other church work," says the devil. But freedom is a weighty matter of the law; the lesser principles of the gospel you should keep but not leave this one undone. We may have to balance and manage our time better. Your other church work will be limited once you lose your freedom as our Saints have found out in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and many other nations.

Third: "You want to be loved by everyone," says the devil, "and this freedom battle is so controversial you might be accused of engaging in politics." Of course the government has penetrated so much of our lives that one can hardly speak for freedom without being accused of being political. Some might even call the war in heaven a political struggle—certainly it was controversial. Yet the valiant entered it with Michael. Those who support only the popular principles of the gospel have their reward. And those who want to lead the quiet, retiring life but still expect to do their full duty can't have it both ways.

Said Elder John A. Widtsoe:

"The troubles of the world may largely be laid at the doors of those who are neither hot nor cold; who always follow the line of least resistance; whose timid hearts flutter at taking sides for truth. As in the great Council in the heavens, so in the Church of Christ on earth, there can be no neutrality" (Ibid., p. 440).

Fourth: "Wait until it becomes popular to do," says the devil, "or, at least until everybody in the Church agrees on what should be done." But this fight for freedom might never become popular in our day. And if you wait until everybody agrees in this Church, you will be waiting through the second coming of the Lord. Would you have hesitated to follow the inspired counsel of the Prophet Joseph Smith simply because some weak men disagreed with him? God's living mouthpiece has spoken to us—are we for him or against him? In spite of the Prophet's opposition to increased federal aid and compulsory unionism, some church members still champion these freedom destroying programs. Where do you stand?

Fifth: "It might hurt your business or your family," says the devil, "and besides why not let the gentiles save the country? They aren't as busy as you are." Well, there were many businessmen who went along with Hitler because it supposedly helped their business. They lost everything. Many of us are here today because our forefathers loved truth enough that they fought at Valley Forge or crossed the plains in spite of the price it cost them or their families. We had better take our small pain now than our greater loss later. There were souls who wished afterwards that they had stood and fought with Washington and the founding fathers, but they waited too long—they passed up eternal glory. There has never been a greater time than now to stand up against entrenched evil. And while the gentiles established the Constitution, we have a divine mandate to preserve it. But unfortunately today in this freedom struggle, many gentiles are showing greater wisdom in their generation than the children of light (Luke 16:8).

Sixth: "Don't worry," says the devil, "the Lord will protect you, and besides the world is so corrupt and heading toward destruction at such a pace that you can't stop it, so why try." Well, to begin with, the Lord will not protect us unless we do our part. This devilish tactic of persuading people not to get concerned because the Lord will protect them no matter what they do is exposed by the Book of Mormon. Referring to the devil, it says, "And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, and they will say: All is well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell" (2 Ne. 28:21).

I like that word "carefully." In other words, don't shake them, you might awake them. But the Book of Mormon warns us that when we should see these murderous conspiracies in our midst that we should awake to our awful situation. Now why should we awake if the Lord is going to take care of us anyway? Now let us suppose that it is too late to save freedom. It is still accounted unto us for righteousness' sake to stand up and fight. Some Book of Mormon prophets knew of the final desolate end of their nations, but they still fought on, and they saved some souls including their own by so doing. For, after all, the purpose of life is to prove ourselves, and the final victory will be for freedom.

But many of the prophecies referring to America's preservation are conditional. That is, if we do our duty we can be preserved, and if not then we shall be destroyed. This means that a good deal of the responsibility lies with the priesthood of this Church as to what happens to America and as to how much tragedy can be avoided if we do act now.

And now as to the last neutralizer that the devil uses most effectively—it is simply this: "Don't do anything in the fight for freedom until the Church sets up its own specific program to save the Constitution." This brings us right back to the scripture I opened with today—to those slothful servants who will not do anything until they are "compelled in all things." Maybe the Lord will never set up a specific church program for the purpose of saving the Constitution. Perhaps if he set one up at this time it might split the Church asunder, and perhaps he does not want that to happen yet for not all the wheat and tares are fully ripe (D&C 86:7).

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared it will be the elders of Israel who will step forward to help save the Constitution, not the Church. And have we elders been warned? Yes, we have. And have we elders been given the guide lines? Yes indeed, we have. And besides, if the Church should ever inaugurate a program, who do you think would be in the forefront to get it moving? It would not be those who were sitting on the sidelines prior to that time or those who were appeasing the enemy. It would be those choice spirits who, not waiting to be "commanded in all things" (D&C 58:26), used their own free will, the counsel of the prophets, and the Spirit of the Lord as guidelines and who entered the battle "in a good cause" and brought to pass much righteousness in freedom's cause.

Years ago Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Council of the Twelve encouraged the members of the Church to join right-to-work leagues and President Heber J. Grant concurred. For our day President David O. McKay has called communism the greatest threat to the Church, and it is certainly the greatest mortal threat this country has ever faced. What are you doing to fight it?

"The War in Heaven" Is Raging on Earth Today

Brethren, if we had done our homework and were faithful, we could step forward at this time and help save this country. The fact that most of us are unprepared to do it is an indictment we will have to bear. The longer we wait, the heavier the chains, the deeper the blood, the more the persecution, and the less we can carry out our God-given mandate and worldwide mission. The war in heaven is raging on earth today. Are you being neutralized in the battle?

"Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

"For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves" (D&C 58:27-28).

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The leviathan's jaws

Toronto is using taxpayer dollars to host a mass orgy for the disabled. One of the people in charge has filmed himself painting a sign for the event using his bare male anatomy.

I am sorry that was so disgusting to even write. But we need to fight back. We have been following in the tracks of Canada and Great Britain recently, just lagging behind a by about 10 years.

Government that funds giant sex parties with taxpayers money has no interest in protecting freedom of religion. It finds religion repulsive. They will get rid of our religious freedoms with self righteous zeal if we do not turn and make such a shout that they cannot ignore it. We need the blast of our horns to bring down the walls of Jericho, and to do that, we need the faith and works of Aaron and Moses. We cannot accomplish miracles without the faith and righteousness needed to accomplish them. We must, as a people, transform into the kind of souls that God can work miracles through. Because that is, as things now stand, the only way out of the closing jaws of a Leviathan.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A very short note about childbirth

I liked Diane's quip about childbirth, and wanted to note it down. She described getting a new child this way: "I didn't know I needed you, until just now."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Truth has no expiration date

I'm astonished at the members of the church who are anxious to classify themselves as staunch and faithful but won't stand by any quotation from a prophet that isn't currently alive.
Can we really say we follow the living prophet if we know in our hearts that we have a mental expiration date just ticking away on whatever he teaches us?
Don't we recall that when Christ came to the Nephites he reproved them for not having remembered and recorded the fulfillment of Samuel the Lamanite's prophecies? That is pretty different than if Christ was unhappy that someone might still want to quote Samuel. In fact, during his life, Christ was quoting all sorts of dead prophets.
These people are like "Oh yes, I follow the prophet true blue dyed in the wool"
But try and quote a prophesy or teaching to these people from any year that starts with a 19, much less an 18, and they blanch and won't stand by it and want something more modern.
As if the two stood in conflict. Does every prophet have to repeat everything from older prophets that is going to remain valid? 
I can't imagine they believe in the old testament in a meaningful way. I mean, if 40 years ago is past a prophet's "best-if-used-by-date" I can't imagine how stale and useless the words of Abraham, Enoch, Noah or, heaven forbid, Adam must be.
That is ridiculous. Truth is truth.
Stop saying you stand while sitting down at the first opportunity.
Just stand.

Are being we witnesses of Christ, or just PR

Our job is not public relations. Our job is to stand as witnesses of Christ in all things, and in all places.

If we instead think our job is public relations, then we look around for something to write about or teach or post that will serve God without offending the devil.

If we think our job is public relations, we write and teach things that sound like we are more concerned with boosting morale than with teaching the great and saving truths of the gospel. When we do teach gospel truths, we tend to do it in a way that could largely be taught in any Christian church.

But that is not who Christ is. He is not afraid to stand for truth even if doing so will incite wicked men to anger. Spencer W Kimball, speaking of his own personal teaching referred to the scripture saying:

D&C 6:9 Say nothing but repentance unto this generation;

And indeed, Spencer W Kimball was bold in teaching repentance.

In the case of our master, Christ was slain because of his teachings. The same has been done to many of his servants both before and after him.

If these great men were willing to lay down their lives for truth, certainly we could be doing far more to stand up for it.

Even in our own meetings we tend to shy away from the profound statements, and our Sunday School discussions often seem to revolve around principles of ethics rather than principles of scripture. We could be doing much better. And we need to be, for our lamps must be full to prepare for the day when the bridegroom comes.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

We should not defend lying in PR, Marketing, Advertising, or Salesmanship

No, it is not OK to lie, and it is not OK to be lied to. If we decide to lie, but call it

Public Relations,
Advertising, or

that doesn't change anything. To pretend it does is just covering our lies with a lie to ourselves.

But our society is used to thinking that, if done under one of these names, lying isn't lying. It is OK. We think it is OK to be lied to in the name of one of these causes, and it is OK to lie in one of these causes. We don't feel offended if advertisers lie to us. We don't feel like we have been treated dishonestly. We feel it has justification simply because it was an advertisement, or public relations.

In fact, we defend their lies. If I say a corporate public relations statement is a lie, someone else might say "Well, come on, you can't expect them to just fess up to the truth."

But we should expect the truth. We shouldn't lie, and we shouldn't defend lying.

The commandments do not say "thou shalt not lie except for commercial gain or public appeal". We are commanded "thou shalt not lie". Quite a few of the lists of who will suffer in hell include the liars. It really is one of the commandments.

The Book of Mormon warns that in the last days there will be many who will say lie a little, dig a pit for your neighbor, there is no harm in this. But it warns that these are ideas inspired by the adversary, designed to lead men to destruction.

We should not be OK lying. We should not be OK with being lied to.

Our faith in modern leaders will not exceed our faith in past ones

Our faith in our church leaders today cannot long or meaningfully exceed our faith in the leaders of the church in the previous century or the one before that or our faith in the scriptures, even the Old Testament. We have too many enemies anxious to point out the contradiction if we say we believe President Monson is a prophet, but that we don't agree with Ezra Taft Benson, or with Spencer W Kimball, or with Joseph Fielding Smith, or with David O McKay, or with Brigham Young, or with Joseph Smith, or with Moses, or Isaiah. We are all of one faith with them under the God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If we judge them rashly, we will be judged rashly, and God's spirit will not give us the same measure of testimony which he might have poured out upon us had we been true to the brethren.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ezra Taft Benson - government manufacturing its own authority out of thin air

This is from a speech in a political setting. But it is still an excellent point.

But if we permit government to manufacture its own authority out of thin air, and to create self-proclaimed powers not delegated to it by the people, then the creature exceeds the creator and becomes master. 

We must keep teaching that God is a God of miracles

We must be careful never to be teaching the false doctrines these verses refer to.

2 Nephi 28:5 And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;
 6 Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.

Note that "there is no God today" here doesn't mean they literally believed there is no God, rather it is a statement he "hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men".

Some among us sometimes teach their own version of these false doctrines. Given that the alternative is to admit that they, and most of the rest of us, are still of little faith, they instead say "this day he is not a God of miracles". And that is a rationalization we must not teach.

Don't get me wrong, I don't yet have faith like a grain of mustard seed myself. If I was in the boat when Peter walked on the water, I wouldn't be being congratulated. The Lord wouldn't be telling Peter, "Why don't you have faith like Robertson over there". My faith is nowhere like Peter's yet, who still deserved rebuke for his lack of faith.

And knowing that is terribly important. It is important that we realize that God's willingness to grant miracles hasn't changed since he walked among his disciples. We haven't yet developed the faith. It is not because God has changed his ways. We need that knowledge to get past our own rationalizations. We need someone to teach us to improve our faith. We need to be dissatisfied with the level of our own faith, and to seek improvement.

We believe in the ministering of angels, and even that a man or woman may enjoy learning in the presence of the Father and the Son. We believe that if we had faith as a grain of mustard seed, we would say to a sycamine tree to be rooted up and planted in the sea and it would obey. We believe that if our faith was sufficient, even the very trees would obey us. We believe that rivers would turn out of their course, that the violence of fire would be quenched, that the mouth of lions would be stopped, that we would speak, and prevent the fall of atomic bombs, and the very mountains would obey us.

And it is important we not stop teaching that. There is a world of difference between teaching that our faith is sufficient, but this day God is not a God of (many) miracles, and the effect of teaching, just as Christ kept teaching his own disciples, that it is our extreme lack of faith that prevents us.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Because iniquity abounds the love of many shall wax cold

The scriptures teach:

Joseph Smith Matthew 1:10 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold;

Whenever a person does evil, he puts himself, to that degree, under the power and influence of the adversary. If he does some small wrong, as is common, the adversary gains only a small amount of power and influence. If he is living in iniquity, he is continually giving adversary great power and influence over himself, and if he continues in such a course he will, at times, act no better than a devil. We see that in the horrific depths of misbehavior wicked men fall into.

We see illustrations of this in the Book of Mormon. We see people whose wickedness has brought them to the point that they are little more than pawns of the adversary. We see the people of Ammonihah gather the believers and burn their women and children alive, after casting the believing men out of the city. We see them gnashing teeth, and showing all the bitterness of hell toward Alma and Amulek in prison.

These are not rational acts. These are men who have given their lives over the adversary. They are not particularly different than the sort of men who crucified Christ.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying that the adversary can FORCE any man to do anything. The adversary cannot force a man to do something. But as he gains greater influence over a man, the power of his temptations increase, his whispers sound so much more compelling.

Frankly, all of us have probably experienced strong temptations at some time, particularly when we are in the habit of misbehaving in some area of our life. We have all probably at one point or another felt strongly tempted to do something we knew was wrong. Satan cannot force our hand. But sometimes a temptation may be particularly compelling.

And the point is the more we yield to him, in rebellion to the commandments of God, the more he has power to influence. It isn't power to force. But he can distort the way we see the world. He can inspire wicked men to be angered against a good cause, and to rise up in support of a wicked one. He can make it appear, to those who follow him, that good is evil, and that evil is good.

He cannot force anyone. But he can exercise great influence on those who yield themselves to him.

Christ said it this way:

John 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

Note that the word verily means "truly" and to repeat it was a way to emphasize it. Christ does that when he is teaching a particularly fundamental truth. The meaning of the truth in this case is precisely what I wrote previously: when we sin, we give the adversary power and influence over us. The more serious the sin, the more serious the power and influence. This is a fundamental fact about our mortal probation.

And realizing that, we can understand the full meaning of the scripture I opened with. It is when iniquity abounds that the love of many waxes cold. Why does their love wax cold? Because their love is stifled and misdirected by the adversary. How can he do that to them? Because they give him power and influence over themselves when they gave way to his temptations instead of yielding to the light of Christ and God's commandments. And among the ways he tends to exercise that power is to destroy their natural affections.

We see this illustrated in another scripture:

2 Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Why are they without natural affection? Because their sins put them in the adversary's power, and he exercises that power to misdirect their feelings and affections. It is the same idea as in the scripture "because iniquity shall about the love of many shall wax cold", i.e. it is teaching that the "natural affection" of many shall wax cold because iniquity abounds.

Prosperity and promises

I have been thinking about the two sided promise: "inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence"
We cannot remain both wicked and prosperous. Our prosperity is lavish beyond any other time or country in the world's history. To lose it will be quite shocking to us.
I don't know the timing. But I do know that as God is a God of truth and cannot lie his promises will be fulfilled, either to our prosperity, or to our destruction.

Harold B Lee - the only safety is to live so we have the Holy Ghost

Harold B Lee's famous quote on safety and the prophet.
Now, when does a person speak as a prophet? Do you recall that oft-repeated revelation in which the Lord said:
Behold. . . this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood [and he is talking of General Authorities], whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth
. . . they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.
And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. (D&C 68:2-4.)
This is when that Authority is speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost. I think as someone has rightly said, it is not to be thought that every word spoken by our leaders is inspired. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in his personal diary: "This morning I . . . visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that 'a prophet is always a prophet;' but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such." (Teachings, p. 278.) It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they read and write. Now you keep that in mind. I don't care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard church works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator-please note that one exception-you may immediately say, "Well, that is his own idea." And if he says something that contradicts what is found in the standard church works (I think that is why we call them "standard"-it is the standard measure of all that men teach), you may know by that same token that it is false, regardless of the position of the man who says it. We can know, or have the assurance that they are speaking under inspiration if we so live that we can have a witness that what they are speaking is the word of the Lord. There is only one safety, and that is that we shall live to have the witness to know.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Very short note - the eyes of little children

The eyes of your little children are the closest thing to a Urim and Thummim you are ever apt to look into.

Joseph Smith - you must go from one small degree to another, from grace to grace, as all Gods before you

Very insightful description. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 346:
Here, then, is eternal life--to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.

Joseph Smith quotes - "he will make me be god to you in his stead"

And I have been looking for these Joseph Smith statements for some time. I just couldn't remember the wording enough to find this one (it is in TPJS page 363)
I would teach it more fully--the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. God is not willing to let me gratify you; but I must teach the Elders, and they should teach you. God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the children of Israel, and He will make me be god to you in His stead, and the Elders to be mouth for me; and if you don't like it, you must lump it. I have been giving Elder Adams instruction in some principles to speak to you, and if he makes a mistake, I will get up and correct him. (April 8, 1844.) DHC 6:318-320.
which should probably be paired with this statement on page 374
These Scriptures are a mixture of very strange doctrines to the Christian world, who are blindly led by the blind. I will refer to another Scripture. "Now," says God, when He visited Moses in the bush, (Moses was a stammering sort of a boy like me) God said, "Thou shalt be a God unto the children of Israel." God said, "Thou shalt be a God unto Aaron, and he shall be thy spokesman." I believe those Gods that God reveals as Gods to be sons of God, and all can cry, "Abba, Father!" Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods, even from before the foundation of the world, and are the only Gods I have a reverence for.

Ezra Taft Benson - The constitution requires as a foundation that the people hold certain ideals

Ezra Taft Benson quoting David O McKay
"Efforts are being made to deprive man of his free agency, to steal from the individual his liberty . . . There has been an alarming increase in the abandoning of the ideals that constitute the foundation of the Constitution of the United States"
That is interesting. We don't live with that idea now, but apparently the constitution doesn't rest on its own. It must rest on a foundation of ideals held by the people it governs to properly function. Without that, it cannot work.
(from Protecting Freedom—An Immediate Responsibility
Elder Ezra Taft Benson
Of the Council of the Twelve
Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1966, pp. 120-125)

Ezra Taft Benson - Discerning when a speaker is moved by the Holy Ghost.

Very interesting Ezra Taft Benson excerpt from "Be Not Deceived", Conference Report, October 1963, p. 15-19
How then can we know if a man is speaking by the spirit? The Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants give us the key (see 1 Cor. 2:10-11; 2 Ne. 33:1; D&C 50:17-23; D&C 100:5-8). President Clark summarized them well when he said:
"We can tell when the speakers are moved upon by the Holy Ghost only when we, ourselves, are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. In a way, this completely shifts the responsibility from them to us to determine when they so speak . . . the Church will know by the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the body of the members, whether the brethren in voicing their views are moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and in due time that knowledge will be made manifest." (Church News, July 31, 1954.)
Will this Spirit be needed to check actions in other situations? Yes, and it could be used as a guide and a protector for the faithful in a situation described by Elder Lee at the last general priesthood session of the Church when he said:
"In the history of the Church there have been times or instances where Counselors in the First Presidency and others in high station have sought to overturn the decision or to persuade the President contrary to his inspired judgment, and always, if you will read carefully the history of the Church, such oppositions brought not only disastrous results to those who resisted the decision of the President, but almost always such temporary persuasions were called back for reconsideration, or a reversal of hasty action not in accordance with the feelings, the inspired feelings, of the President of the Church. And that, I submit, is one of the fundamental things that we must never lose sight of in the building up of the kingdom of God" (Conference Report, April, 1963, p. 81).

Brigham Young - the adversary uses the most winning tone

Brigham Young (being quoted by Ezra Taft Benson):
"The adversary," said Brigham Young, "presents his principles and arguments in the most approved style, and in the most winning tone, attended with the most graceful attitudes; and he is very careful to ingratiate himself into the favour of the powerful and influential of mankind, uniting himself with popular parties, floating into offices of trust and emolument by pandering to popular feeling, though it should seriously wrong and oppress the innocent. Such characters put on the manners of an angel, appearing as nigh like angels of light (2 Cor. 11:14) as they possibly can, to deceive the innocent and the unwary. The good which they do, they do it to bring to pass an evil purpose upon the good and honest followers of Jesus Christ." (JD 11:238-239.)

Rote quotations may lead to revelation, but they cannot replace it

Brigham Young, being quoted by Ezra Taft Benson. Before giving the quote, I think this quote is tied to a theme in my own writing. The idea is not to put a "reckless" trust in our leaders (someone is already thinking "HERESY!"). The idea is to grow into the principle of inspiration and revelation ourselves, because that is where our leaders are really trying to lead us. There is an enormous difference between echoing a quotation, and coming to the point of understanding where we could have made the same statement ourselves, independently. And it is to the latter place that our leaders want us to arrive. Rote quotations will never replace revelation. They may help lead the way there, as they should, but they must not, as they have for so many of our members, become the destination.
"You may know whether you are led right or wrong, as well as you know the way home; for every principle God has revealed carries its own convictions of its truth to the human mind . . .
"What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire of themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path that the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually." (JD 9:149-150).
Taken from "Be Not Deceived"
Elder Ezra Taft Benson
Of the Council of the Twelve Apostles
Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1963, p. 15-19

The church is not the large corporation

The church is not the large corporation. I sometimes hear people confusing the two. They start thinking the church is a bureaucracy and then want things like eternal truth to somehow be bureaucratic. They want the church to have a corporate ladder. They want all truth to be filed somewhere in the bureau of quotations. They care a lot about who they rub elbows with, forgetting that God who seeth in secret rewards openly.
Instead the corporation exists to support the church. The church is a prophet and twelve apostles under the direction of Jesus Christ. If the corporation vanishes tomorrow, the church still exists in its perfect fullness.

Very short note - we are too sensitve to endure or offer correction

D&C 101: 5 For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.
Everyone needs correction from time to time. If we are too sensitive to endure it or offer it, then we are fools indeed, unwilling to save others or be saved ourselves because someone might feel bad, repent, and escape the damnation of hell.

Ezra Taft Benson notes clear scriptural teachings on property rights

Ezra Taft Benson 
"The Doctrine and Covenants is important because it contains the revelations which helped lay the foundation of this great latter-day work. It speaks of many things. Section 134, verse 2, states that government should hold inviolate the rights and control of property (D&C 134:2). This makes important reading in a day when government controls are increasing and people are losing the right to control their own property."

Observation on Ezra Taft Benson quotes

Ezra Taft Benson quotes have the interesting properties of (1) having seemed looney to many doubters in his day and even more so to cynics 10 years ago and (2) being astonishing prophetic now that we look back on them.

Family scripture experiment

Holy Cow we tried something for family scriptures that certainly changed it a lot. Usually we have one person who is the reader/teacher and there is a constant battle with distractions.
Tonight, everyone who was old enough to read (even Joseph) had to follow along. Kate helped Joseph follow along. This made some big differences:
1) When there was noise everyone still knew what we had read, so interruptions were not nearly the problem they usually are.
2) The fact that they had to follow along dramatically reduced the interruptions.
3) I think many of them heard a lot more of it, and paid more attention to the actual text.
The downside, is that I prefer a much more fluid family scripture study. This tended to be more like reading together, and I would rather far more discussion. If we spend more time reading verses than talking about their meaning than we are teaching them to read, not teaching them to ponder and study seriously.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Pornography and willingness

Joseph Smith talks about the authority of the priesthood being unable to help those who have the spirit of the devil and are willing to keep it. What does this mean? While I think his meaning is fuller, I think it has relevance to a common situation today.

It means, in part, that the ability of the priesthood to "cure" pornography addiction is pretty darn limited. And that is because invoking the word "addiction" fails to capture the reality that each time one indulges in pornography is a conscious choice. You may as well give someone a blessing to stop them from sleeping around.

Specifically, the issue of being "willing to keep it" means that when push comes to shove, they aren't really willing to simply stop doing it. And indeed, until they are, what can God do for them? There is no divine way to revoke agency.

Casting out devils in the new testament and today

One of the things that jumps out at anyone reading the four gospels as being real accounts of actual events is the prevalence with which devils and casting out devils appears in the text.

At first one might be led to wonder why we don't see the same things today that existed back then.

And the answer is obvious. We do. We don't live on a different planet than Christ and his disciples did. Nor do we think that when the Son of God addressed a devil that he was just a bumpkin who didn't understand what was really going on.

Things haven't changed, but a scientific world doesn't know what to call them.

These days, we prefer to use words like "mental disorder". In Christ's day, a woman who refused to eat because she believed she too fat, and who saw herself in the mirror as being fat, yet was literally starving herself to death would have been correctly described as being afflicted with a devil.

These days we don't like that sort of term. We often prefer science to religion when both come forward with an explanation. And we don't like to refer to the devil if we can help it. But come on. We live in the same world Christ lived in, and we don't think he was just too backward, too much of a country bumpkin, to correctly understand what was going on around him. People are afflicted with devils these days the same as they were in Christ's day.

And just as in Christ's day, with sufficient faith it is possible to cast them out by the authority of the priesthood.

But we have let go of our faith on this matter, and put it into the hands of psychology, a godless substitute for religion. We have a hard time even believing it can be done.

As Christ cast out devils in his day, so they can be cast out today. But not without sufficient faith, as even Christ's own faithful disciples learned:

Matthew 17:14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

There are, any number of accounts of Christ, as well as his disciples, casting out devils. Even in Mosiah 3 an angel announces to King Benjamin that Christ would go forth doing this.

There are also many places where Christ, or his disciples, heal a physical ailment. The text talks about these differently. Examples are the woman who touches the hem of Christ's garment, or the lame man at Bethesda, or the man lowered through the roof, or the man born blind, or the servant of the gentile, or the gentile woman's daughter, and, from the text, we gather there were many, many others. In these cases, it is made clear that the problem is a physical ailment. And sure, there are mental disorders that are really physical ailments. But no, I don't believe that our world is different now than it was in Christ's days, and I think if we could give that statement its full credence we would increase our faith to heal those who are afflicted with devils, instead of pretending that somehow, now, the world is magically different than it was in Christ's day. Our faith and priesthood is sad indeed if it is a a poorer remedy than what psychiatry has to offer.

Friday, June 5, 2015

President Kimball - when evil is decried and forbidden and punished the world still has a chance.

"Because of this widespread tolerance toward promiscuity, this world is in grave danger. When evil is decried and forbidden and punished, the world still has a chance. But when toleration for sin increases, the outlook is bleak and Sodom and Gomorrah days are certain to return." - Spencer W Kimball (Faith Precedes the Miracle, page 152, 1972)

In that statement President Kimball gave the two alternatives:
(1) tolerate promiscuity and reap Sodom and Gomorrah,
(2) decry, forbid, and punish such evils, and the world will still have a chance.

The two sides of that coin are still just as true, though by now we have followed the path to destruction nigh to the gates. Can we not, even in our own membership, stop proclaiming the need to tolerate and even change our laws to better protect promiscuity, perversion, and vice?

Can words so prophetic be less than inspiration from God? And if so, will we not now heed them as such?

When I think of how many of our members seem determined to take a course contrary to this counsel to appease the world, I think "O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths".

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The two graces.

There are two opposing views of grace and they stand in direct opposition. They are not complimentary, they are competitive. One cannot prosper without destroying the other.

In the one view, grace is a mechanism by which Christ made it so that the atonement serves as a proxy for righteous behavior. That is different than forgiveness on condition of repentance. In this view grace serves as a proxy substituting even for our current flaws and failings. This interpretation was initiated by Martin Luther. It tends to be taught using phrases like "Christ already paid the bill in full" and is the underlying view of the atonement in protestantism. It is through this lens that Paul's words are read in protestant religions.

But viewed correctly, grace is simply the merciful gifts of God. Some of them came by the atonement, others, such as the creation, and the gift of a moral body, came independent of it. While it is true that many of God's gifts are given on condition of obedience, that doesn't mean that it is our works that bring it to us. That is outside our mortal power. I can live so the Holy Ghost will choose to attend me, but that is different that saying that by my own mortal abilities I have forced the Holy Ghost to attend me. The Holy Ghost is a god. He will do as he sees fit. And if he attends me when I am righteous, that is a merciful gift, not something I did by my own mortal power. It is simply a merciful gift, gifted to me on condition of obedience. This grace comes into our life in recognizable ways that are fundamental parts of our doctrine. The light of Christ is a manifestation of the grace of God. If we follow if, then it leads to the grace of baptism for remission of sins, and to the grace of the gift of the Holy Ghost. These examples of grace can transform our works. They cannot transform the fact that our power is meerly that of mortal men. But they can transform our works, which is essential to us, because it is by our works that we will be judged. The resurrection, and sealing to an eternal spouse are other examples of this grace. It is outside our power as mortals to bring ourselves forgiveness, the light of Christ, the Holy Ghost, resurrection from the dead, eternal sealing, or exaltation. That does not mean they are not conditioned on obedience, it means they are outside our ability to grant to ourselves. We are saved by grace, after all we can do.

In short, contrasting the two, in the protestant view of grace Christ's atonement not only provides forgiveness on condition of repentance, but also provides proxy righteousness substituting even for our current failings and flaws.

But in the correct view, grace is something that is more manifest in our lives as we obey more. It is God's merciful gifts. It is God's power exercised in our behalf as a merciful gift. Instead of making future promises about the judgment bar, it transforms our works now. We know when we do service, for example, that we feel a spiritual lift. We have no power to grant that to ourselves, but God does so as a merciful gift. In that enlightened state we can see truth more clearly, and we can submit our will more fully to the will of God. This sort of grace connects us with heaven here in mortality, and thereby changes our works, most particularly by helping us grow into the gift of the Holy Ghost. Rather than standing as proxy righteousness in place of misbehavior, real grace requires us instead to change our behavior to experience more of this grace. This fits with our own experience with the Holy Ghost. We grow into it more as we live better, and as we have the Holy Ghost more with us, then in turn it is easier to live better. There is no substituting for misbehavior with the Holy Ghost. When we do wrong, he leaves. And that is how the grace of God really works.

Commandments and a relationship with God

I wrote this in response to someone who thought that "keeping rules" was a trite replacement for "having a relationship with God".
A real relationship with God comes from keeping his commandments, because that is the only path that leads us to know him through the gift of the Holy Ghost.

In fact, Christ taught that the way he, Christ, measures our love for him is by how we keep his commandments.

"He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is the loveth me".

There you have it, Christ's own statement of how he measures our love for him. It is by how we keep his commandments.

Not surprisingly, Christ attributed the depth to which is Father was with him to the fact that he always obeyed his Father. Christ said:

John 8:29 "And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."

Of course, anyone who thinks obedience to commandments is trite ought to consider Christ's own words on the matter. In addition to the above, maybe consider his words "For how knoweth a man the master than he hath not served". We also get interesting insight from 2 Nephi 31:10 "And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?"

Once again, Christ himself states that our love for him is measured by how we keep his commandments. Those that do are those that he says love him.

And Christ further points out the tie between a real relationship with God and keeping his commandments in John 14:23 "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

So if we really love him, we obey commandments. And if we obey commandments, he feels that we really love him. And if we do that, then He will love us, and his Father will, and will come and make their abode with us. If what we have hoped for is a personal relationship with Christ there is no more we could have hoped for in a personal relationship with Christ than the message in John 14:23 because:

D&C 130:3 John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Brad Wilcox's "His Grace is Sufficient" and the whore of all the earth.

Reading over Brad Wilcox's "His Grace is sufficient" talk I have a hard time conceiving of a more subversive, destruction alteration of our doctrine.
Earlier I was reading about Phinehas in Numbers 25. There is something akin in what I read there and Brad Wilcox's speech. What was it that made Baal-Peor such an interesting God to the Israelites. They have had Moses smite a rock and bring forth water. They have seen Aaron's branch grow and blosom miraculously. They have had one miracle after another.
So why do they turn to Baal-Peor? Because what Baal-Peor really offers them is immorality. That is why the worship of Baal-Peor is hardly distinguished in the text from committing adultery with the Midianitish women of Moab. They seem to be referred to interchangeably.
There is a reason other religions are called the whore of all the earth. They offer religion, but they offer religion without that pesky chastity requirement. Sure, it is included, but there is a difference between a requirement that is a sacred commitment with consequences for the temple, for covenants, for the sacrament, and *wink, wink* "requirements".
Each offers their own way around that one law. Some make it a commandment, but one which is forgiven with astonishing ease. I knew a man in one such religion that had a six month affair, for which he was required to spend 45 minutes in prayer to enjoy complete absolution. Another puts forth an ostentatious show of morality, but make all immorality the fault of the woman, leaving domineering men to do as they please effectively blameless for any moral misdeed whatsoever. These and countless variations satisfy man's innate desire to believe he is right with God, without having to subject his flesh to the commandments, and most particularly without needing to fully commit to being chaste. They find a way that he can just keep the commandment in part, but gain the full blessing.
Yes there are other commandments that are tough for people, such as tithing. But there is a reason the Lord calls other churches "the whore of all the earth" instead of "the robber of all the earth". The moral one is the crux. A moral people can gain the inspiration they need to start paying tithing. But immorality is both very serious and tempting. It puts those who yield to it under the devil's sway and it then proceeds to pull the other virtues apart. The only way out is real repentance.
So back to the original topic, Brad Wilcox's "His grace is sufficient." I know of no other popular piece of LDS doctrinal writing that attaches as much of a "wink, wink" attitude to the commandments of chastity. It transforms our religion into just another whore of all the earth type religion. It has part of the form, but without the requirements. Yes, all the usual LDS requirements are left in. But with a sense that you can get away with an awful lot of misbehavior along the way and that it should all be fairly easy to gain forgiveness because that is what the atonement is all about.
Don't get me wrong. Like all other religions, no one is really winking. Everything is presented straight faced like this is THE doctrine. That is common among the religions.
Spencer W Kimball, addressing a couple that had given way to immorality recounts:
“Yes,” I replied, “the Lord and his church can and will forgive, but not easily. The way of the transgressor is hard. It always has been and it always will be. The Lord said: ‘I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite’” (Luke 12:59). But I went on to tell them that in his goodness he provided for us a way to forgiveness. One may do as he pleases, but he cannot evade responsibility. He may break laws, but he cannot avoid penalties. One gets by with nothing. God is just. Paul said, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
Spencer W Kimball's doctrine is not his own, but the doctrine of the true church. For serious sin, there remain serious consequences. It isn't just like hitting the wrong note on a piano. Immorality isn't something to treat with a slap on the wrist on the basis that everyone is just practicing being good. It has a serious effect. It cannot be treated lightly, or taught like it is a small matter, without destroying the souls of men.