Personal Online Journal

Sunday, December 31, 2017

"It would not have been asked of you"

Elder Holland had a dream/vision where he was rebuked for treating his son badly. What a touching message to me. ("Within the Clasp of Your Arms", Jeffrey R. Holland, Apr 1983)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Are the prophets of God fallible?

In summary I believe this "Question: How are Church members protected against error by leaders?" I particularly like this quote:

"Even with the best of intentions, [Church government] does not always work the way it should. Human nature may express itself on occasion, but not to the permanent injury of the work." (Elder Boyd K. Packer, “I Say unto You, Be One”, BYU Devotional, 12 Feb 1991)

See also, "Are prophets infallible? Statements by Church leaders"

In stating that prophets are fallible, it is important that I also see myself as fallible. I "see through a glass darkly" (1 Cor 13:12) I see the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency as watchmen on a tower who have the commission to protect me. Who have the right and ability to see things that I cannot see and can warn me of things to come that I am not aware of.

I see our church as in the period described by Zenos in his allegory of the olive vineyard.
Graft in the branches; begin at the last that they may be first, and that the first may be last, and dig about the trees, both old and young, the first and the last; and the last and the first, that all may be nourished once again for the last time.  
Wherefore, dig about them, and prune them, and dung them once more, for the last time, for the end draweth nigh. And if it be so that these last grafts shall grow, and bring forth the natural fruit, then shall ye prepare the way for them, that they may grow. 
And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard. (Jacob 5:64-66)
The 15 prophets, seers and revelators are following this direction. They are clearing away the branches that produce the most bitter fruit. That includes the results of the culture that we live in and our ancestors. I believe that "If we faithfully proclaim the gospel, we then receive the promise that we will be cleansed from the blood and sins of this generation." (Peter B. Rawlins, "Endowed with Power," Religious Educator 13, no. 1 (2012): 125–139.) I think that the "blood and sins of this generation" includes the bias, misconceptions and incorrect traditions that we have inherited.

I love how President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said it.
We simply don’t know all things—we can’t see everything. What may seem contradictory now may be perfectly understandable as we search for and receive more trustworthy information. Because we see through a glass darkly, we have to trust the Lord, who sees all things clearly. ("What Is Truth?", Dieter F. Uchtdorf, CES Devotional Jan 2013)
If we stay on the old ship Zion, we will be guided safely to receive more light, "brighter and brighter until the perfect day" (D&C 50:24-25). All of the scales will fall off our eyes. We will distinguish all the truth from the error.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

True Principles Applied Bring Success & Happiness

I first listened to this devotional talk at Ricks College in 1991. It is a perennial favorite of mine.

"True Principles Applied Bring Success & Happiness", 5 Mar 1991, Ed J. Pinegar, Former President of the MTC
Download the MP3, BYUI Link to MP3

He talks here about how gratitude is the key to desire.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Take Courage



"Take Courage" Starlight
Bethel Music & Kristene DiMarco

Slow down, take time
Breath in He said
He'd reveal what's to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He'll reveal all to come

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He's never failing
He's never failing

Sing praise my soul
Find strength in joy
Let His Words lead you on
Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He'll finish all He's begun

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He's never failing
He's never failing

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He's never failing
He's never failing

And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory
And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory!

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
And hold onto your hope
Watch your triumph unfold
He's never failing
He's never failing

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
And hold onto your hope
Watch your triumph unfold
He's never failing
He's never failing!


He's in the waiting...

Monday, December 04, 2017

To keep in mind as I study the Book of Mormon

Russell M. Nelson said,
My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions. 
(“The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?" Russell M. Nelson, GC Oct 2017)
From the Introduction of The Book of Mormon

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” 
(Footnote #9 from '“Chapter 4: The Book of Mormon: Keystone of Our Religion,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2011), 57–68', History of the Church, 4:461; from instructions given by Joseph Smith on Nov. 28, 1841, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff.)
From "The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion", Ezra Taft Benson, Oct 1986

If they saw our day and chose those things which would be of greatest worth to us, is not that how we should study the Book of Mormon? We should constantly ask ourselves, “Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?”
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It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book.
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There is a power in the Book of Mormon which will begin to flow into your lives the minute that you begin a serious study of the book. You will find the power to avoid deception. You find the power to stay on the straight and narrow path.
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"Social, ethical, cultural, or educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fulness of the gospel which the Book of Mormon contains." ("The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God". Ezra Taft Benson. General Conference Apr 1974. Also in the First Presidency message of the Jan 1988 Ensign. )

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From "Blessings Resulting from Reading the Book of Mormon", L. Tom Perry Oct 2005
“Why did these writers choose these particular stories or events to include in the record? What value are they for us today?”

Gordon B Hinckley, in 2005, challenged the world to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year.
Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God ("A Testimony Vibrant and True", Gordon B. Hinckley, Liahona and Ensign, Aug. 2005, 6).
What are the three promises from Gordon B Hinckley?
- an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord
- a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments
- a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God

From Thomas S. Monson, "The Power of the Book of Mormon", Apr 2017
This morning I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives. The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated.
President Monson spoke for 3 minutes and 27 seconds. In print it is 6 paragraphs. He used one paragraph to announce new temples. He then used 5 paragraphs to tell us of the importance to read the Book of Mormon each day. In his short talk he mentioned that twice in addition to asking us to pray and read the scriptures daily. He did not speak to us in Oct 2017.

What am I doing to keep my testimony vibrant?

Elder Monson asked, "What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today?" His answer is:
I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety. If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true—and I solemnly testify that it is—then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

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My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives. I so testify with all my heart in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
What are the four promises Thomas S. Monson gave if we would read the Book of Mormon daily?
be in a position
- to hear the voice of the Spirit
- to resist temptation
- to overcome doubt and fear
- to receive heaven's help in our lives

"We should not look upon reading and studying the scriptures as an inconvenience and something to be endured. In the word of God is power and nourishment and life." (“Give Heed unto the Word of the Lord”, Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign Jun 2000)

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When I go to the table to eat, I don’t take physical nourishment without asking the Lord to bless that food to nourish and strengthen my body. Similarly, I think when we study the scriptures, we should bow our head and pray—often it would be silently because of the surroundings—but we would pray that the Lord would bless us that we’d be able to understand what we’re reading and that the act of reading the scriptures would summon the Spirit of the Lord to guide us on things other than simply the meaning of what we’re reading. In this way the scriptures can be a Urim and Thummim to help us receive revelation. But it begins with prayer; it doesn’t begin with reading, like a newspaper or a magazine. ("A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks", Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Satellite Broadcast • August 7, 2012, See also https://youtu.be/lpzzU62mKhg)
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There are few things that a teacher can do that would have a more powerful, long-range effect upon their students’ lives than teaching them the importance of studying the scriptures, giving them that experience, letting them taste the fruit of daily scripture study. In my judgment, that would go beyond any subject that might be taught from the scriptures, except the fundamentals in the first few articles of faith. Beyond that, I think the most important thing we could do as teachers of seminary and institute students would be to connect them with the scriptures and the results of daily scripture study. ("A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks", Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Satellite Broadcast • August 7, 2012
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When I think of the Book of Mormon, I think of the word power. The truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console, and cheer our souls. (“The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?”, President Russell M. Nelson, General Conference, Oct 2017)   
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My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions.
... 
Whenever I hear anyone, including myself, say, “I know the Book of Mormon is true,” I want to exclaim, “That’s nice, but it is not enough!” We need to feel, deep in “the inmost part” of our hearts, that the Book of Mormon is unequivocally the word of God. We must feel it so deeply that we would never want to live even one day without it. I might paraphrase President Brigham Young in saying, “I wish I had the voice of seven thunders to wake up the people” to the truth and power of the Book of Mormon.
(“The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?”, President Russell M. Nelson, General Conference, Oct 2017)   
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Friday, December 01, 2017

Top 100 C.S. Lewis quotes

I love these.

Top 100 C.S. Lewis quotes, 27 Jun 2012, Deseret Book.

Jesus Christ, Healer of the World

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In Mormon thought, humans are neither capable of unaided advancement to godliness nor accurately described as depraved. They are agents made free by Christ’s Atonement, enticed by darkness while yearning for the light.
“In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” is a false teaching.
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We believe that most people both inside and outside the Church “are trying to do right,” as Brigham Young said. “I am in the midst of Saints, or at least of those who profess to be Saints; and if they are not Saints, I think they are trying to become so with all their might.” Yet, we are weighed down. Few of us may feel on the precipice of  damnation, but we all feel wounded and weary. Is there a language that can speak more meaningfully—yet truthfully—to our predicament? 
Translators have difficult choices to make. The term most frequently rendered in the King James Bible as save is the Greek word sodzo. And he who saves is the soter, based on that same word. But when Luke used the identical term sodzo, it was to describe Jesus’ act of curing the blind man of his affliction (Luke 18). Mark used sodzo when Jesus made the girl whole from the plague (Mark 5). And Matthew  employed the term sodzo when the hemorrhaging woman, touching the Lord’s hem, was restored to health (Matthew 9). In all these and numerous other cases, the word often translated as save is more aptly rendered heal. Jesus healed the blind, healed the girl of the plague, and healed the woman with the issue of blood. In other words, rather than render the Messiah’s title of soter as Savior, we could with equal linguistic justification call him Jesus Christ, Son of God, Healer of the World. ("How We've Been Misunderstanding God's Title of 'Savior'", 6 Nov 2017, Fiona Givens and Terryl Givens, excerpted from "The Christ Who Heals" )
Jesus Christ our place of healing.

One virtue of such a substitution is that healing signals the beginning of a glorious journey now unfolding, while saving implies its end. And we are all very much in eternity’s morning. In Joseph’s favorite biblical translation, the word for Savior is das Heiland. Heil is from the verb heilen and means “to heal.” Land denotes a geographical location. Das Heiland could, therefore, be translated correctly as “place of healing.” In other words, our place of healing is Christ. Julian of Norwich emphasized this even more emphatically when she wrote: “The blessed woundes of oure Saviour be opyn and enjoye to hele us.”