Richard Alger

Personal Online Journal

Friday, September 26, 2014

When the Lord desires to speak to the whole Church

The Saints believe in divine revelation to-day. At the head of this Church stands a man who is Prophet, Seer and Revelator, sustained in that position by the vote of the whole body of its members. When the Lord wishes to speak to His Church, as a body, He does so through that individual, His servant. President Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom and experience, and we respect and venerate him; but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God; and when "Thus saith the Lord", comes from him, the Saints investigate it; they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill. When he brings forth light they want to comprehend it. Light, truth, intelligence, wisdom, progress, growth all the time --that is "Mormonism"-- to grow in grace and the knowledge of the truth. When the Lord desires to speak to the whole Church He does so through its head, not through half a dozen different channels; because in such an event there would be confusion. The Latter-day Saints are not blindly led by leaders or blindly directed by priests; but every man can receive the divine testimony in his own heart and be a priest in his own house.
(Charles Penrose; The Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star Vol. 54 - Click on "No. 12 March 21, 1892", then Utah News; PDF;)
I agree with Elder Penrose's approach. We are to investigate the words of our Prophet and the other prophets. We are to seek understanding by study and by faith. If we ask with a sincere heart and intend to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, He will show us the truth.

We can distinguish truth and error. The prophets of God are a solid source of truth.

Beware the Wrong Turn

Many of us take the blessings of the gospel for granted. It is as if we are passengers on the train of the Church, which has been moving forward gradually and methodically. Sometimes we have looked out the window and thought, “That looks kind of fun out there. This train is so restrictive.” So we have jumped off and gone and played in the woods for a while. Sooner or later we find it isn't as much fun as Lucifer makes it appear or we get critically injured, so we work our way back to the tracks and see the train ahead. With a determined sprint we catch up to it, breathlessly wipe the perspiration from our forehead, and thank the Lord for repentance. 
While on the train we can see the world and some of our own members outside laughing and having a great time. They taunt us and coax us to get off. Some throw logs and rocks on the tracks to try and derail it. Other members run alongside the tracks, and while they may never go play in the woods, they just can’t seem to get on the train. Others try to run ahead and too often take the wrong turn. 
I would propose that the luxury of getting on and off the train as we please is fading. The speed of the train is increasing. The woods are getting much too dangerous, and the fog and darkness are moving in. ("Spiritual Revival".Glenn L. Pace. Oct 1992)

We sometimes think we know better than the prophets, seers and revelators where the train of the church should go. Perhaps we are insightful to what the Lord would have. Sometimes not.

I trust the 15 that are leading the church. I think that the organization the Lord puts into place balances strong personalities. That the President of the Church leads by persuasion. That he seeks the input of the other prophets.

The church organization is not perfect because those that administer it are not. But it is the Lord's church nevertheless and we will continue to prune the most bitter branches off according to direction of the selected servants of God until it becomes wholly acceptable to Him. (Jacob 5:64-65)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Study, Faith, and the Book of Mormon

 A quote to remember
There is a verse from the Doctrine and Covenants on a plaque in the Lee Library. It’s in the stairwell going up from the circulation desk to the fourth floor. As a student here in the sixties, I saw it several times every day; it made a deep impression on me. It admonishes us to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). Spirit and intellect, study and faith, science and religion, testimony and academics—often we see these as opposites, but ultimately they are not. If our eye is single to God and his glory, if in our learning we are always willing to hearken unto the counsels of the Lord, if we are equally rigorous about what we think and how we reason, we shall see how all truth may be circumscribed in one great whole and, that all things shall work together for our good. ("Study, Faith, and the Book of Mormon". John W. Welch. BYU Devotional May 10, 1988.)

Seeking Steadfastly

There are so many pitfalls in life. I know that if I am to remain on solid ground; if I am to have sustainable growth, I must be rooted in the doctrine of Christ.

I have friends who have become atheists. Friends that have left the church because it has lost its authority. There are those that are trapped in the despair of addiction. Those that are troubled by the history or doctrines of the church.

We can be distracted from what God wants us to do. How do we know that we are living the way God has planned for us to live? I am convinced that we must live in harmony with the truth we know.

"Therefore dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for His hand to be revealed." D&C 123:17

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Come along, come along" is the call that will win

My wife reminded me last night that "Most men can be led, but few can be driv'n". (Hymn 244)  I should remember how wise she is especially when it comes to relationships.

It also reminded me of this story of Tyler Jarvis. 
When I went to graduate school many years ago, I was lucky enough to be admitted to a school with some famous faculty members. I had done pretty well in my undergraduate classes, and I thought I was pretty smart; so when it came time to choose classes and teachers, I chose some of the most famous teachers I could. 
One of them was especially impressive. He was a Fields medalist—the nearest thing in mathematics to a Nobel Prize winner. Other students spoke of him with awe, both because of his brilliance and because of his reputation for criticizing students. When I heard how he had berated a student for being both lazy and stupid, I determined that I would never give him cause to criticize me like that. I decided never to ask him for advice or help until I had exhausted every other means for solving a problem. The result was that he never criticized me, but I also never learned much from him. I spent three years in his classes and only spoke with him for a total of about forty-five minutes. 
Another of his students had no fear at all—he would go to this professor almost every day to ask questions. And he was criticized regularly, but he never seemed to care. I thought he was completely crazy, but he went back almost every day, got his questions answered, and learned a lot. 
It took me several years after graduation to realize that I had wasted the opportunity of a lifetime—this other student wasn’t so crazy after all. He got many hours of personal tutoring from one of the world’s greatest mathematical minds, and I got—well, I got through graduate school safely, without being criticized.
If I am to learn, I must be willing to ask questions and not give into the fear that I will be criticized. Maybe one of the most important things I can ask is, "How am I doing?" of my wife.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Not Getting What You Deserve

TOFW presenter Robert Millet shares his thoughts on grace, mercy, and their combined enabling power.

Hajj and Humility

As I think about taking Sam to the MTC, I was thinking about a documentary I watched recently about the pilgrimage Muslims make to Mecca. Muslims call it Hajj. It not only means the physical journey you take but your spiritual journey as well. You are not supposed to get angry while on Hajj. Hajj is about humility and meekness.

It seems like a good goal for the next week as we prepare for Sam to begin his mission.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Organic Growth

"Visible, influential Mormons aren't outliers or exceptions. They are fruit of the organic growth of their religion." (Stephen Mansfield. "The Mormonizing of America". Sep 6, 2012)
Organic growth is the only kind we need to have. We need to grow our faith like a seed. We need to grow it in our marriages and families; in our friends and our home teaching and visiting teaching families; in our love, respect and familiarity of our ancestors.

The calculus of our everyday lives comes as the dews fall from heaven.