Richard Alger

Personal Online Journal

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Next to the standard works...

This is a reference to some great LDS resources.
Next to the standard works five of the greatest documents in our literature are—
1. The “Wentworth Letter.” (SeeHistory of the Church, 4:535–41.) Written by the Prophet Joseph Smith, it contains an account of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, of the organization of the Church in this dispensation, and of the persecutions suffered by the early Latter-day Saints. The thirteen Articles of Faith are part of this letter.
2. Lectures on Faith. These lectures were prepared by and under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith and were taught by him and by others in the School of the Prophets. The Prophet said they embraced “the important doctrine[s] of salvation” (Preface to D&C, 1835 ed.; reprint, Independence, Mo.: Herald House, 1971).
3. The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency and the Twelve. (See James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75], 5:26–34; see also 5:23–25.) This exposition sets forth the status and relationship of the Father and the Son, shows those ways in which Christ is the Father, and through its various recitations lays to rest the false and heretical view that Adam is our Father and our God.
4. The “King Follett Sermon” and the “Sermon in the Grove.” (SeeHistory of the Church, 6:302–17; 6:473–79.) These two sermons, one in thought and content, set forth the doctrine of the plurality of Gods and of becoming joint heirs with Christ. They show that man may become as his Maker and reign in celestial exaltation forever.
5. “The Origin of Man,” by the First Presidency of the Church. (See Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, 4:200–206; see also 4:199.) This inspired writing sets forth the official position of the Church on the origin of man and therefore impinges on the evolutionary fantasies of biologists and their fellow travelers. As might be expected, it arouses great animosity among intellectuals whose testimonies are more ethereal than real."
(Bruce R. McConkie, "The Bible - A Sealed Book," )

Monday, April 06, 2015

We cannot earn our way into Heaven

"We cannot earn our way into Heaven"

"Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience. It is purchased by the blood of the Son of God."

"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." (2 Nephi 25:23
However, I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase, "after all we can do". We must understand that after does not equal because. We are not saved because of all that we can do.

Have any of us done all that we can do? Does God wait until we have expended every effort before he will intervene in our lives with his saving grace? 
(General Conference Apr 2015, Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

I like President Uchtdorf’s comments on grace in combination with Elder Wilford Anderson’s comments about hearing the music versus merely learning the dance steps. The two talks together nicely articulate why those of us who have felt the spirit (and continue to feel the spirit) do obey and rejoice in obeying. It is not because we feel we can purchase salvation by our works, but because the spirit moves us to obey because we trust God and love Him. (Comment at, Meg Stout, Apr 6, 2015)
FB thread discussing what our church has done to give a correct understanding of grace and works.

You Two Aren't All That Different

A great lesson from General Conference this weekend.
Some years ago, a wonderful young man named Curtis was called to serve a mission. He was the kind of missionary every mission president prays for. He was focused and worked hard. At one point, he was assigned a missionary companion who was immature, socially awkward and not particularly enthusiastic about getting the work done.  
One day, while riding their bicycles, Curtis looked back and saw that his companion had inexplicably gotten off his bike and was walking. Silently, Curtis expressed his frustration to God; what a chore it was to be saddled with a companion he had to drag around in order to accomplish anything. Moments later, Curtis had a profound impression, as if God were saying to him, "You know Curtis compared to me, the two of you aren't all that different." 
Curtis learned that he needed to be patient with an imperfect companion, who nonetheless was trying in his own way. (General Conference Apr 2015, Dale G. Renlund)

Jesus was in the Ashes

The talk from Sister Wixom, Sunday morning is powerful. We ought to follow the example of the lady in the story. Question everything. Search, seek. I would hope that we all might have the support she had. Understanding. Non judgment. Support. Willing to accept whatever offering she was willing to give.

Her testimony was burned down. In the ashes Jesus was left. He is at the center of my testimony. The lady built her testimony on him. Primary songs do have such simple and powerful ideas. I love them and cherish them. She then built upon that with searching the new testament. She was then drawn to the Book of Mormon. There is no more powerful testimony of Jesus in the Book of Mormon.

The testimony of the lady grew bit by bit. She focused on what she knew. I imagine she plowed deep the soil of her soul. She prepared her own heart so that the seeds of the word of God would have room to root deeply in her soil. She nurtured and tended and watched carefully for signs that the seeds growing were good. She experienced the fruit after persistent and tender care.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Changed for Good

Last night we had a our first annual Copper Canyon ward talent show.

Beth and Kristine sang this song.

It reminds me of this scripture from our church history. Joseph Smith was instructing a school of the prophets.
 132 And when any shall come in after him, let the teacher arise, and, with uplifted hands to heaven, yea, even directly, salute his brother or brethren with these words: 
 133 Art thou a brother or brethren? I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen. (D&C 88:132-133
That we all may remain willing to accept the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and be changed for good.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Into the Woods

It has been over 4 years since my conversations with Randy.

Since then, I have had many long discussions with my dear friend Sam Meacham​. He went from being Mormon, to agnostic to atheist. I could tell he was doing it because he was following his conscience. What he thought was right and good and true.

I came to understand that faith can be complex. My faith started simply. I then grew and left childish things. I discarded some beliefs that I had taken for face value just because someone older and seemingly wiser knew them.

What is objectively true is very important. More important is what we believe to be true because, at critical times, it influences us more than the objective truth. How can we be sure that what we believe to be true is the objective truth? I am convinced that none of us have ever matched up completely. The earth used to be objectively flat. Comets used to be portends of destruction. We all see through dark, dark glasses. Trying to perceive what is real. I trust that someday we will see brightly.

I believe that the darkness we find ourselves in this life is by design. That we are supposed to try and figure out what is true and good and right. And then do our best to live by it. We are to dare greatly. To step out of the cocoons we grew up in. Out into the world into the woods. I trust that we will continue to have many adventures here. I look forward to them.

No One is Alone

Whether it be political, religious or family differences, we need to grow empathy for each other. We can retain our convictions our dearly held beliefs and still be kind to each other. I know that I have benefited from allowing myself to walk a while in another's shoes. Seeking first to understand them before I try to be understood.

I love the song "No One is Alone" from Into the Woods. To me, is says that we need to figure out what our side is. Instead of trying to see who's right and who is wrong, we need to have compassion. Recognize that our point of view may not be the only one with something valuable to give.

We need to figure out how to act like sisters and brothers with each other.

Someone is on your side
Jack, LRRH:
OUR side
Baker, Cinderella:
Our side--
Someone else is not
While we're seeing our side
Jack, LRRH:
Our side..
Baker, Cinderella:
Our side--
Maybe we forgot: they are not alone.
No one is alone.
Hard to see the light now.
Just don't let it go
Things will come out right now.
We can make it so.
Someone is on your side
No one is alone.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Come, Flounder With Us

Since then my experience as a church member, or as a father and a husband, has been much the same. Never an unmixed success. Never a performance that I could feel I hadn’t unnecessarily tainted with sins of commission and omission. I am a shabby Mormon. These failures are better than successes elsewhere. I have found more joy making a hash of things in the gospel path than would be possible on any other path pursued however flawlessly. I mean that. 
“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
C.S. Lewis, in Screwtape, showed us that the fear of death was harder to endure than death.
“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for.” 
One of the themes of this blog is that failure is always an option. I would almost say that it is the only option. Come, flounder with us. ("Being a Mormon is Hard", Junior Ganymede, Nov, 4, 2013 )
My experience is the same as Junior Ganymede. I don't think highly of my experience on my mission. I attribute nearly all of my success since to my wonderful wife who has inspired, and and times, prodded me in the way I knew was healthiest for me to go.

The last paragraph above contains a point that should not be missed. I think this life is designed for us to fail. I think that is the primary test for each of us. In the infinite variety of strengths and weaknesses were are all gifted with, the greatest is the opportunity to act in relation to our failure.

Will we, like my deepest tendency is, attempt to hide until we have fully overcome our most shameful attributes? Or instead, will we forge ahead and decide that we cannot be what we want to be, what the Lord has said we can be, without his hand.

Like Peter faltered so do we all. It is only through the hand of the Lord and the loving word of chastisement that we both receive his grace and recognize our failings and can therefore begin our work to overcome them, hand in hand with the Lord.

We must be willing to dare greatly and be the (wo)man in the arena. Not waiting until we are bullet-proof. Letting others see us, and hopefully join with us in a heavenly quest of evolving, growing, becoming like God.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

When Knowledge Conquered Fear

The story of Edmond Halley and Isaac Newton and how scientific knowledge becomes the master over fear. Comets went from omens of destruction in every known culture to objects of wonder.

"When Knowledge Conquered Fear" Episode 3, 23 Mar. 2014, imdb