Personal Online Journal

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Loving Others and Living with Differences

It is so important not so talk past each other, especially when it is a controversial or sensitive subject. I like what Dallin Oaks said recently about it.

On the subject of public discourse, we should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention. Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence. In doing so, we ask that others not be offended by our sincere religious beliefs and the free exercise of our religion. We encourage all of us to practice the Savior’s Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12). ("Loving Others and Living with Differences", Dallin H. Oaks, Oct 2014)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Infinite Power of Hope

... to all who suffer—to all who feel discouraged, worried, or lonely—I say with love and deep concern for you, never give in. 
Never surrender. 
Never allow despair to overcome your spirit. 
Embrace and rely upon the Hope of Israel, for the love of the Son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow, and gladdens every heart. ("The Infinite Power of Hope", Dieter F. Uctdorf, Oct 2008)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

An Uncomfortably Honest Commencement Speech

Post by AIME.

An uncomfortably honest commencement speech yet surprisingly insightful. Given at the University of Western Australia by Tim Minchin

Nine Life Lessons
1 - You don't have to have a dream. Instead be micro-ambitious
2 - Don't seek happiness. Aim to make someone else happy
3 - You are lucky exist. (I would say blessed). You didn't make the brain or body you have. Anything you accomplish has its origins somewhere outside of you.
4 - Exercise. Take care of your body. It will help you be less depressed.
5 - Be hard on your opinions. They should be constantly and thoroughly examined. Don't have a failure to acknowledge nuance. The arts and science are not at odds with each other.
6 - Be a teacher. Even if you are not a teacher, be a teacher. Spray what you've learned.
7 - Define yourself by what you love, not what you dislike or oppose.
8 - Respect people with less power than you.
9 - Don't rush. Don't panic.
10 - Fill this existence, learn as much as you can about as much as you can. Suck the marrow out of life.

Kindness Brings Miracles

It was my son's turn to prepare the lesson for our home teaching visit. I looked up stories from General Conference and found this video.

It brought to mind my own experiences with kindness. I know in my life that love; the kind that causes hearts to want to peek out from their fox holes...  Love changed me. Not only the love of my parents. It was the love of my father and mother in law. The love of my wife, that caused me to wake up to what I might lose without them. Love that they wanted me with them, in this life and the next.

Love caused my heart to come out of its barricade. To be vulnerable. To allow the Lord to change it. Elder Bednar told us that the Spirit can bring the truth unto but not into our hearts. The Lord respects our moral agency so much, that he will never violate the will of a soul. We must choose to follow Him.

Yesterday my son serving a mission expressed this lesson like this, "I've really learned a lot up here, probably one of the biggest would be that all we need to do for those who stray is not to pressure them but to just love them."

Love wins.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Temple Garments

I am glad that the church produced this video about our sacred temple clothing. It is an authoritative and respectful resource for curious people.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Truth Will Cut Its Own Way

William Wilberforce applied Christian ethics to abolish the slave trade in Great Britain. Abraham Lincoln drew on the truths of the Bible to heal a divided nation. Mahatma Gandhi spread the religious principles of nonviolence to lead India to independence. And the list goes on. These individuals resisted the grain of their times, and heralded something new.
Being a voice of religious conscience may not lead to popularity, but society is better served when all are allowed to pursue their highest good. We can disagree about important things with good will. It is unwise to stamp rivals as enemies. Indeed, they can prove to be helpful collaborators where social goals align. It feels uncomfortable to listen to critics call our cherished beliefs into question, and yet we show strength by engaging in sincere conversations with those who oppose our views. After all, we trust that “truth will cut its own way” and love will eventually win out in the contest of ideals. 
("The Voice of Religious Conscience", Mormon Newsroom Commentary, 25 Nov 2014)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why and How do Mormons Give Blessing for the Sick?

I have a friend who is not Mormon that I am going to give a blessing of health to. I thought I would write down some thoughts in a way that would convey what I believe and why.

Dallin H. Oaks gave a talk in April 2010 called "Healing the Sick". It encompasses what I believe about blessings for the sick. He said:
There are five parts to the use of priesthood authority to bless the sick: (1) the anointing, (2) the sealing of the anointing, (3) faith, (4) the words of the blessing, and (5) the will of the Lord.
Here is my short summary of them
1- The Old and New Testament spoke of anointing with olive oil. It is a symbol of purity and power.
2- Dallin H. Oaks said, "To seal something means to affirm it, to make it binding for its intended purpose." Usually another man seals the anointing after the first anoints.
3- Both the faith of those blessing and those being blessed are required. The faith of those being blessed is more important.
4- The words of the blessing are ideally in perfect harmony with the Lord's will. But it is not necessary in order for the Lord to bless.
5- The Lord knows best what will help us to live the happiest lives. Sometimes our will is not the Lord's. Trust in the Lord can bring us peace even when things happen that we do not want to happen.

My father in law mentioned how he talked about how we use the Melchizedek priesthood to give blessings for the sick. Hebrews 6:20 and Hebrews 7:1-2 talk about the Melchizedek priesthood. We believe that Jesus held this priesthood. That he gave it to his twelve apostles and that Peter, James and John restored this priesthood to Joseph Smith. And that it has been passed down since that time to us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why do I Believe?

A Facebook conversation snippet I thought was worth saving.

Randy Galbraith:
After a careful consideration of the evidence, your conclusion is: "Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. He restored the true church of Jesus Christ. And he was faithful to the Lord throughout his life." But could not the same form of reasoning be applied to Wayne Bent? If not, why not?
Richard Alger:
I had not heard of Wayne Bent. I just looked up a bit of info from him. I believe that God, or the Universe or Good shows up in all places. In all religions, in those with no faith at all in Deity.  
President Hinckley said, “Let me say that we appreciate the truth in all churches and the good which they do. We say to the people, in effect, you bring with you all the good that you have, and then let us see if we can add to it. That is the spirit of this work. That is the essence of our missionary service” (meeting, Nairobi, Kenya, 17 Feb. 1998, "Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley").

"whatever is true is a part of the gospel" ("My Father’s Formula",  Dr. Henry Eyring, Ensign, Oct 1978)  
"When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion." Abraham Lincoln

I have also found that the analogy of the word of God as a seed works well for me. I have found that the seed has swollen within me. It has sprouted and I have nurtured its growth for years. I have tasted of the fruit and I tastes good to me. It gives me life. (Alma 32:26-43
"O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good;" Verse 35 
I have seen in my life that as I have given it to Jesus, that I have no more disposition to do evil but to do good continually. I have felt the beginnings of the fruits of the Spirit. (Moroni 7:45-48)
So, in my long winded answer to your question, "could not the same reasoning be applied to Wayne Bent?" It is possible that Wayne has truth and is leading his followers in Good. I have not looked into it. I believe that there are many, many manifestations of God's goodness and truth. I do not believe that Wayne restored the true church of Jesus Christ. 
I believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only organization authorized to make binding covenants between God and humankind. That baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and other ordinances unlock a particular gift to us. To be faithful to what we are taught. That a weekly renewal of this covenant serves as a continual way to rededicate ourselves to what we believe is good and right. 
If we follow these patterns of God in our lives, the calculus 1 of good means that we eventually, through the grace of God, become even as God is. To live the kind of life He lives. That we can begin to receive the joy this kind of life brings starting today.
Why not? Because I feel such a manifestation of the Spirit as I live the gospel as restored in the LDS church. 
I have not found anywhere else teachings that expands my mind and helps me to reach to God. Doctrines like agency and our unique view of the choices of Adam and Eve. 
Our teachings of becoming like God (or theosis) is unique in its centrality of teaching.
The balanced view of justice and mercy that I have not seen in any other teaching. 
And I am sure I could go on. 
I have seen the goodness in my local leaders and members of my congregation. People that I admire and want to be more like. 
The opportunities that I have had to serve and by so doing, to become better than I would have. 
That is why, does that answer your questions, Randy Galbraith?
Randy Galbraith:
The reason that I asked, is because I believe the key point is commitment. Wayne Bent (modern living religious leader) and Joseph Smith (historical) present similar models and similar claims. Above is the quote: "I am not a committed Latter-day Saint in spite of my careful study of LDS history, but because of it." 
It is because of commitment that one does not easily discard beliefs at the first sign of trouble. Understanding this can help us understand folks in various faiths. 
In contrast neither you nor I have made commitments to Bent's group, thus it is relatively easy for us to dismiss his claims as not from God. The flip of this is such can generate a deeper/sympathetic view of former members of a faith. Former JWs (and likely former LDS members) don't give up their faith easily. 
The other area of thought I've been pursing lately is the differences between historical fact, claims made by a faith and personal belief and social interactions such creates
Richard Alger:
I don't doubt that my investment and commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored in the LDS church makes it easy for me to remain associated with the church. And committed to it.  
This is human nature. I do not deny my bias.  
I have found it helpful to associate, especially online, with people that have a different point of view than I do. In politics, religion, in nationality. 
I find that their earnest dialog with me helps me to better understand my own views. I have discarded some of my beliefs that I have had as a child. and even as an earlier adult. I am under no allusion that I have the most complete and accurate understanding of how things really are and how they used to be and how they will yet be. 
It seems to be an attribute of this life that we cannot know, with surety the correct path to take. I believe this is by design. Just as with the traveling salesman problem, the best solution sometimes is to make our best approximation and then correct our path with repeated iteration. 


Monday, November 17, 2014

Wilderness Disguised as Civilization

"The work that faces your generation is no less arduous [than the pioneers]. The deserts you must bring to blossom are no less arid, but your mission may demand even more of you, for unlike the early pioneers of this state you are confronted by a wilderness which is subtle and fluid and elusive. Indeed the wilderness which you must conquer is disguised as a civilization so that there is the double necessity to unmask the deceit, to distinguish between what is authentic and what is counterfeit, and to labor to support the one and oppose the other."

Discourse to BYU Students by Dr. John A. Howard, president of Rockford College, Illinois, as quoted by President N. Eldon Tanner, Oct 1976.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Perfecting the Church

I believe that God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God. As Moroni said, "if there be faults they be the faults of a man." (Mor 8:17) I think that wrong practices and beliefs of humankind generally need to be removed in order to have a church that is acceptable to God.

I have found understanding and comfort in a passage in Jacob 5 that says,
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. (Jac 5:65)
Part of receiving many great and important things, is pruning out the branches that produce bitter fruit. That the church collectively will be perfected even as we are individually. The scales will fall from our eyes and we will not longer see through a glass darkly.

We will see things as they really are. Until that day, we must forge forward, making the best approximation of what we understand God wants us to do. And then move forward trusting our connection with the Spirit to guide us, as well as our intellect to understand and do and be what God has in design for us.


Nov 2015

When I talk of clearing the most bitter branches, I am talking about clearing the traditions that are false. Peter in the New Testament had a vision where the gospel was freed up to be taught to all peoples. Does that mean that the church policy before that was wrong? I think it was as correct as the membership allowed it to be. The traditions of the members of the church.

I do not pretend to know what the future policy changes, the future revelations are for the church. I have faith in the prophets, seers and revelators as they stand and as they will stand.

I trust the work of the Lord in the perfecting of his church.

Another example of the perfecting of the church that I have seen in my lifetime is the emphasis and balance of justice and mercy. It is possible that this may only be my understanding going from a child to an adult. It does seem that the church emphasizes the power of grace in our lives. As an older teenager, I read Believing Christ. I also look to the parable of the piano practice. It seems to me that we have a more perfect understanding or that in practice that understanding is getting to our children better. I hope it is.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Testimony Doctrine by Doctrine

A commenter mentioned how a testimony that is gained doctrine by doctrine is more resilient than
simply believing that “Joseph Smith was a legitimate [and by implication, righteous] prophet; ergo, the things he taught are all necessarily true”

This makes sense to me. I remember being taught that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. That if I gained a testimony of it, then I had a testimony of Joseph Smith and all the prophets that have come after him in the LDS church.

This approach to gaining a testimony worked very well for me. I remember teaching it often to others on my mission and elsewhere.

It seems that having a testimony teaching by teaching would hedge up a testimony in that, each teaching would have effort placed into it to understand it and why it is true and what it means to me as an individual. Instead of a monolith testimony, you can have a network of testimonies. Like the Internet, if a node goes out, the network does not fail. And it is possible for the node to get brighter again as we gain knowledge and inspiration or a change of perspective.

I have done this teaching my teaching method more rigorously since I have had my experience of being shocked by unsavory details of the church history. I feel more grounded and strong in my network of testimonies.

It is not that we don't teach this kind of testimony building. We often say how we gained our testimony of tithing, or the word of wisdom or of temples. Maybe we just need to extend that to all parts of the gospel.

Our leaders have often said that we need to find out about the truth of the restored gospel. It is time that we shore up our networks of testimonies for the time that they will be tested further than we can conceive now.

Testimonies grow (and diminish) gradually.
Let us acknowledge that most often gaining a testimony is not a task of a minute, an hour, or a day. It is not once and done. The process of gathering spiritual light is the quest of a lifetime.
If you seek God’s truth, that which now may appear dim, out of focus, and distant will gradually be revealed and clarified and become close to your heart by the light of God’s grace. Glorious spiritual vistas, unimaginable to the human eye, will be revealed to you. ("Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth", Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Oct 2014)
Do you recall the slow and almost imperceptible increase in light on the horizon? In contrast to turning on a light in a dark room, the light from the rising sun did not immediately burst forth. Rather, gradually and steadily the intensity of the light increased, and the darkness of night was replaced by the radiance of morning. Eventually, the sun did dawn over the skyline. But the visual evidence of the sun’s impending arrival was apparent hours before the sun actually appeared over the horizon. This experience was characterized by subtle and gradual discernment of light. 
From these two ordinary experiences with light, we can learn much about the spirit of revelation. ("The Spirit of Revelation", David A. Bednar, Apr 2011)

A Quiet Word

It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder
'Til it was a battle cry
I'll come back when you call me
No need to say goodbye

Just because everything's changing
Doesn't mean it's never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
As you head off to the war
Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light
You'll come back when it's over
No need to say goodbye
You'll come back when it's over
No need to say goodbye

Now we're back to the beginning
It's just a feeling and no one knows yet
But just because they can't feel it too
Doesn't mean that you have to forget
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
'Til they're before your eyes
You'll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye
You'll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye

This song filled my heart this morning. As I thought about the lyrics, I could tell what she was singing about.

"It started out as a feeling" I can imagine for someone, this is how it began. A feeling that there is more. More than this flesh and blood and life and death.

"Which then grew into a hope" Then it became a hope. That maybe it is true. That God exists and lives and is wonderfully loving and powerful.

"Which then turned into a quiet thought" This one way the Spirit speaks to me. It is a thought placed in my mind. A seed if not rejected, swells.

"Which then turned into a quiet word" What is that word? It is Christ! He is the One. He is the Word.

He loves us more than we are capable to love in return. He is willing to forgive us. He will bless us, sanctify us, if we are willing, to live with him again in a glorious kingdom.

We will become like him. Be one with him as he is one with the Father.

"I'll come back when you call me
No need to say goodbye"
He has conquered death. We will rise because of him never to be separated from our glorious, perfect bodies. We will see our loved ones again. We have the opportunity to live with them forever.

"Now we're back to the beginning
It's just a feeling and no one knows yet"
It is now the day after you first recognized the spirit testifying of the name of Jesus. You wonder if it was all real. You hope it was. You immediately get a confirmation that is was real. But your friends have forgotten.

"Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
'Til they're before your eyes"
Keep the faith. Grow it. Feed it. Let its roots go down to the living waters. Until you stand before Him in the flesh.

He will receive you. He will embrace you. He will continue to bless you to the extent that you are willing.

Let Go and Let God

The most important thing is for us to love God and love our neighbor.

We must plant and nurture faith in Christ, practice repentance and forgiveness, make and keep covenants with God, and learn joy in sustaining it.

The rest of it will work its way out. Just like Pres Hinckley would say.

Sometimes we can get hung up on a teaching that is hard to understand, or we can doubt that God's mercy applies to ourselves. We can let go and let God.

Let go of doctrines that don't make sense or are hurtful to us. We can let go of doubt and despair. If we let his love reach us, and change us with our consent and effort, every thing else will work out.

Let His Love Reach You

There is hope,
for every soul that's lost.
There is a way back home,
no matter where you've roamed.
His love will heal you, will lead you there.

There's a place for every heart in pain,
A place where there's not hurt,
And there's no shame,
Let His love reach you and teach you every hour.

"Let His Love Reach You/From God's Arms to My Arms to You", Michael McLean, One Heart in the Right Place, 1990, Grooveshark, Last FM)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Easily Bondable

Is is interesting that most compounds contain carbon. That is because its valences allow it to easily bond with a variety of elements.

Being able to bond with other things around you is valuable. Computers became exponentially more valuable once they were connected in networks. Synergy comes about because the interactions of people add up to a much greater value than the sum of their indivudual results. 

Maybe this is God's way of telling us that our greatest value comes from our bonds with those around us. This is an evidence to me of the teachings of family bonds, temple sealings, and other covenants with God that bind ourselves to Him. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Do you think I care for you so little?

I have been thinking of a recent episode of Doctor Who. This is where the Doctor shows how much he cares for Clara. She had betrayed him and he returns the favor by going to a very dangerous place to help her.

Clara: You're going to help me?
Doctor: Well why wouldn't I help you?
C: Because if what I just did. I just..
D: You betrayed me... You betrayed my trust. You betrayed our friendship. You betrayed everything that I ever stood for. You let me down! ...
C: Then why are you helping me? ...
D: Why?    Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?
("Dark Water", Doctor Who (2005) S8e11)

I thought of my relationship with God. He loves me. The darkest, most secret parts. He knows me and as long as I continue to have faith in Him. Faith enough to follow His example. To continue to renew my covenants with him and incrementally strive towards Him. He in His infinite power reaches for me and lifts me to where He is. His light shines on me to warm and encourage me so that I, in his light, become like Him.

The Terrible Questions

Hugh Nibley:
Last week I received two letters that introduce us very well to the "terrible questions." One was from a gentleman in Colorado, a long, long, extremely indignant letter with ninety-eight questions… 
In questions on epistomology our correspondent asks fifty-four questions. For example, "If God is a junior god in the universe, and there are more senior gods, why shouldn't I put my faith in a senior god? 
Next are questions on ontology, the nature of being. For example, "How is Mormonism different metaphysically from ancient pagan concepts?" (We could write a long book on that question!) "What about autonomy of the human will, and free agency?"  
Then come eighteen questions on ethics, or "ethica," as he calls it… 
In the hereafter, what difference will these questions make? The real question, of course, is, Is this all there is? This is what everybody wants to know, the only question that bothers us. If you can answer that definitely, then our troubles are over; there is nothing left to worry about.
To expand on that question, he tells the story of Clement and his questions:
-"I wondered…if I didn't exist before I was born."
-"When was this world made, or what was there before it was made, or did it always exist?"
-"Whether there would be a life for me after death or whether I wouldn't be anything at all afterward."

These remind me of when my son asked who created God? He was never satisfied. For weeks and even months off and on again these kind of questions would come up. To be honest I have never been satisfied by the answers I have gotten except for the question I got as an answer. "What difference does it make if I know exactly what the origin of God is?"

The more pertinent question are:
- "Is there really a God?"
- "Is He really all powerful, all knowing and perfect in every way?"
- "He really loves me knowing perfectly who I am in my deepest, darkest place?"
- "Is my life acceptable to Him?"

These really are the three things that are necessary for salvation.
Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God, unto life and salvation: 
First, the idea that he actually exists.
Second, a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.
Third, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will. (Lectures on Faith 3:2-5)

Monday, November 10, 2014

An Admission of Surrender to the Herd

 "Once the carnal in man is no longer checked by the restraints of family life and by real religion, there comes an avalanche of appetites which gathers momentum that is truly frightening. As one jars loose and begins to roll down hill, still another breaks loose....
Decadence is very demanding and dogmatic, and it is no friend of liberty. Decadence which grew in the soil of tolerance and permissiveness soon seeks to drive out all of these.
What is wrong is wrong, and trends do not make something right which is at variance with the laws of God.
Far from freeing those involved, sin is an admission of surrender to the herd. It is a capitulation to the carnal in man and a rejection of joy and beauty in this life and in the world to come."
("Listen to the Prophets", Spencer W. Kimball, Apr 1978)

This reminds me of weeds, that seek to drive out all other plants and do not bear good fruit.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Mistakes of Men

There is an old saying, “Catholics say the pope is infallible but don’t really believe it; Mormons say the prophet is fallible but don’t really believe it.”

Pres Uchtdorf said in Oct 2013
And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine. 
I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes. 
In the title page of the Book of Mormon we read, “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.” 
This is the way it has always been and will be until the perfect day when Christ Himself reigns personally upon the earth. ("Come, Join with Us", Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Oct 2013)
If the membership at large were more realistic in their expectations of their leaders, less would have their faith shaken when leaders inevitably disappoint us.

We must have our tap roots deep down to the gospel of Jesus Christ, proven through our hearts and minds. We must work together according to the dictates of our consciences until we become one as Jesus has become one with our Father.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

He Waits for Their Upreaching Hands

it is the sad truth that if prophets and people are unreachable, the Lord generally does nothing for them. Having given them free agency, their Heavenly Father calls, persuades, and directs aright his children, but waits for their upreaching hands, their solemn prayers, their sincere, dedicated approach to him. If they are heedless, they are left floundering in midnight’s darkness when they could have the noonday sun. ("Revelation: The Word of the Lord to His Prophets", Spencer W. Kimball, Apr 1977, start time 5:45)

The Error of the Ancients

President Kimball said,
I bear witness to the world today that more than a century and a half ago the iron ceiling was shattered; the heavens were once again opened, and since that time revelations have been continuous. … 
Since that momentous day in 1820, additional scripture has continued to come, including the numerous and vital revelations flowing in a never-ending stream from God to his prophets on the earth. … 
… We testify to the world that revelation continues and that the vaults and files of the Church contain these revelations which come month to month and day to day. We testify also that there is, since 1830 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, and will continue to be, so long as time shall last, a prophet, recognized of God and his people, who will continue to interpret the mind and will of the Lord. 
Now, a word of warning: Let us not make the error of the ancients. Numerous modern sectarians believe in the Abrahams, the Moseses, and the Pauls, but resist believing in today’s prophets. The ancients also could accept the prophets of an earlier day, but denounced and cursed the ones who were their contemporaries. 
In our day, as in times past, many people expect that if there be revelation it will come with awe-inspiring, earth-shaking display. For many it is hard to accept as revelation those numerous ones in Moses’ time, in Joseph’s time, and in our own year—those revelations which come to prophets as deep, unassailable impressions settling down on the prophet’s mind and heart as dew from heaven or as the dawn dissipates the darkness of night. 
Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication. I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, a light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal. For nearly a century and a half there has been no interruption. ("Revelation: The Word of the Lord to His Prophets", Spencer W. Kimball, Apr 1977)
It seems that the error of the ancients was to believe the previous prophets over the living ones we have today. We must be cautious and prudent. We know that our living prophets are men. But they are 15 men that have been prepared for decades in a path they have not chosen. They were called of God. When the united voice of the brethren speak, it is up to us to seek the Lords confirmation of such statements. I can hardly consider the likelihood that I am correct and they have erred.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

30 Years of service in the Quorum of the Twelve

"I've tried to reduce my highlights of 30 years in the Quorum of the Twelve into 10 specific topics."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Disagree without being Disagreeable

"I recently spoke about how, as followers of Christ, we should live peacefully with others who do not share our values or accept the teachings upon which they are based. Following the Savior’s example, we can show loving-kindness and still be firm in the truth by forgoing actions that facilitate or seem to condone what we know to be wrong." (Dallin H. Oaks, Oct 22, 2014) See full talk at "Loving Others and Living with Differences"

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Other Ways of Knowing

We believe that doubt can have a powerful and tremendously useful and productive function in one's faith journey, but its something that we aspire to move through and beyond; not to wallow in endlessly. And then the idea "a crucible refines us", the scriptural imagery of a refiner's fire. There is something to be said for the way in which a crucible tries you but ultimately can strengthen you. (Terryl Givens, "Reflections on the Quest For Faith by Terryl and Fiona Givens", Fair Mormon Interview, YouTube 7:21)
It is a great interview of both Terryl and his wife Fiona about their book, The Crucible of Doubt. Questions are what started the Reformation and the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love the way he describes other ways of knowing besides rationality.
We are great admirers of science. I am personally. Our culture is today and we should be. Science has pioneered incredible new frontiers. It's been the spearhead of technological innovation and enhanced standard of living. The problem is when we come to think that science or rationality are the only, or the necessarily superior avenues to ultimate truth and knowledge. A little bit of reflection indicates that in our actual, lived experience, that's never the case.

We don't rely upon logic or rationalism or science for those decisions of greatest importance and moments in our own lives. We don't shape our moral responses on the basis of reason. We don't say for example that rape or child abuse is wrong because of some calculus of cost benefits. We intuitively, instinctively respond on the basis of moral intuition to those realities, as well we should. So our point is: Why in religion should we not also credit other ways of knowing. 

Art is another means that we give some examples of. Art can be much more powerful and effective in revealing and conveying truth, than any cold analysis of facts. Perhaps the greatest scientist of all time, Einstein, once said, "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." ( ) All we are trying to do is help in this work of rehabilitating the gift of intuition and spiritual discernment along side of science and rationalism.
(Terryl Givens, 19:52)
I had never thought of the Savior as an example of asking questions. Fiona explains,
The Savior is the model here. When we look at the garden of Gethsemane treatment by Luke, Christ looks at what's in front of him and he realizes the horror that it entails and he doesn't want to go there. So he asks God to please make a way for his escape. But God can't do that. He can't take the cup. There are billions of people, whose salvations rely on this particular event by this particular man who cannot be replaced.

What Christ does then is that, famous, "not my will, but thine, be done". We tend to breeze over that. What Christ is actually saying there is, "I understand that you may not be able to take this away but please give me a way to be able to endure it". He gives God room to answer his question in another way. And God is able to do that. God then sends an angel who comforts and supports the Savior through his agony.

I think that is the risk that we have to take. We have to open ourselves out to the myriad ways God may actually respond to our question. He may not be able to take that cancer away. That may be something He is not able to do so in our questing there is this trust element that God will somehow answer our question in another way. Help us be able to go through this.

That shows great risk. But I think it also shows that God is trying to talk to us in numerous voices. He is trying to help us see His hand print in various parts of our lives. So by not requiring God to answer us in the way we expect him to answer, we are more likely to receive answers to our questions in beautiful, miraculous and God-touched ways. (Fiona Givens, 34:20)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Spiritual Confidence before God

I loved the talk in General Conference on Sat afternoon by Elder Jorg Klebingat, "Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence" (His name is pronounced Yurk Kleningaat)
Whenever the adversary cannot persuade imperfect yet striving Saints such as you to abandon your belief in a personal and loving God, he employs a vicious campaign to put as much distance as possible between you and God. The adversary knows that faith in Christ—the kind of faith that produces a steady stream of tender mercies and even mighty miracles—goes hand in hand with a personal confidence that you are striving to choose the right. For that reason he will seek access to your heart to tell you lies—lies that Heavenly Father is disappointed in you, that the Atonement is beyond your reach, that there is no point in even trying, that everyone else is better than you, that you are unworthy, and a thousand variations of that same evil theme. 
As long as you allow these voices to chisel away at your soul, you can’t approach the throne of God with real confidence. Whatever you do, whatever you pray for, whatever hopes for a miracle you may have, there will always be just enough self-doubt chipping away at your faith—not only your faith in God but also your confidence in yourself. Living the gospel in this manner is no fun, nor is it very healthy. Above all, it is completely unnecessary! The decision to change is yours—and yours alone.
Here are the "six practical suggestions that, if heeded, will dissipate these evil voices and restore to you the kind of peaceful assurance and spiritual confidence that is yours to have if you only want it."
1. Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being.
2. Take responsibility for your own physical well-being.
3. Embrace voluntary, wholehearted obedience as part of your life.
4. Become really, really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly.
5. Become really, really good at forgiving.
6. Accept trials, setbacks, and “surprises” as part of your mortal experience.
I also liked this part,
acknowledge and face your weaknesses, but don’t be immobilized by them, because some of them will be your companions until you depart this earth life. No matter what your current status, the very moment you voluntarily choose honest, joyful, daily repentance by striving to simply do and be your very best, the Savior’s Atonement envelops and follows you, as it were, wherever you go. Living in this manner, you can truly “always retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12) every hour of every day, every second of every minute, and thus be fully clean and acceptable before God all the time.
Elder Uchtdorf pronounced Jorg Klebingat as Yurk Kle-bing-aught.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Anger Is an Indication of Weakness

Anger is not an expression of strength. It is an indication of one’s inability to control his thoughts, words, his emotions. Of course it is easy to get angry. When the weakness of anger takes over, the strength of reason leaves. Cultivate within yourselves the mighty power of self-discipline.  (Gordon B. Hickley, "Our Solemn Responsibilities", Oct 1991 )
This is the talk that helped Ken Niumatalolo make a goal to keep his temper in check. He is one of the people featured in #MeetTheMormons

Thursday, October 09, 2014

What your husband really wants

I agree with everything he says 

Five Compelling Ideas

Joseph was utterly alone in the Christian world in promulgating each one of those five ideas, with one possible exception.  Those ideas being that
[1] we believe God’s heart beats in sympathy with ours; that
[2] we lived with Him as pre-existent beings; that
[3] life is not a fall, but an ascent; that
[4] God has the capacity and the desire to save the entire human family (shared by some Universalists of the day); and that
[5] heaven is a perpetuation of those relationships we cherish here and now.
Now any one of those five ideas is sufficiently compelling, I think, to attract adherents, but put all five together and you have a unique combination that had no contemporary parallel. And I’m not surprised, that with those five doctrines at the core, that there have been few dissenters, once you embrace that original mosaic. (Terryl Givens, "Exclusive Interview with Terryl and Fiona Givens with the release of Terryl’s new book, ‘Wrestling the Angel’", Oct 8, 2014)
A few years ago at the time of the scandal relating to Mormons baptizing Holocaust victims, I was interviewed by a Jewish radio host in Philadelphia.  And his first question was direct and to the point. He said, “What are you doing baptizing my dead ancestors?”  And, Mormons tend to be very uncomfortable with the doctrine of baptizing the dead.  It seems weird, and it conjures up gruesome or rather strange images in the mind, and we tend to avoid that topic.  But what I said to this radio host on that occasion was, “Well, Mormons believe in a Heavenly Father who wants to save the entire human family.  And at the last day will provide a wedding feast to which He wants His entire human posterity invited.”  And I said, “Mormons see ourselves as putting everyone’s name on the guest list. And not everybody has to attend, but we feel everybody should be invited.”  His answer to me on air was, “What a beautiful idea. How do I get my name on your list?” Now, that explanation isn’t always going to elicit that response.  But that is an example of the fact that our theology is much more powerful and compelling and morally appealing than we have recognized, and I think we need to lead with that more often.(Terryl Givens, "Exclusive Interview with Terryl and Fiona Givens with the release of Terryl’s new book, ‘Wrestling the Angel’", Oct 8, 2014)


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Dominant, Expressive, Analytical and Amiable

Cross posted from here. Originally from Oct 2008.

In July, I attended a personality seminar run by Persogenics. I have done several personality, self helpy things in my life. Sometimes I get a little wary of this kind of thing. There are a few things I found useful from the seminar.

The workshop focused on improving the communication between people with very different styles. There are four patterns people use to communicate: Dominant, Expressive, Analytical and Amiable. Most people have a primary and secondary way of communicating.

One of the best stories was one the facilitator told of a rafting trip they went on as a company. It was a hoot to hear how the people of the different styles interacted with each other.

The bottom line for me were two things to remember per communication style. One was what the person of the style was to remember. The other was what others could keep in mind when communicating with the person. This is what I remember:

A dominant communicator should remember to ask not tell. Others should remember to take them seriously but not personally.

An expressive communicator should let others know when they are talking out loud. Others should restate what they heard them say. If appropriate, touch them to let them know you understand what they said. Paraphrase, playback.

An analytical communicator should let others know when they are thinking, "Let me think for a moment". Others should give them time (5-10 seconds) after asking them a question.

An amiable communicator should remember to speak up now, sooner is better than later. Others should ask to ask, "May I ask you something?"

This came up for my wife and I last night. It has helped us to avoid misunderstandings. It may help me at work too. It will serve me to remember these lessons.

Do You Think He Will Make You Be Together?

This morning, after I woke up my daughters, one came to me crying because they had fought and hurt each other. After trying to listen and then stopping to listen because their story seemed so long (i am sure i was impatient), I told them this.
Do you think you will be together forever if you don't like each other? Do you think Heavenly Father will make you be together if you don't like each other? Wouldn't that be a punishment? Do you want to be friends? Do you want to grow up and think, "I don't like my sister I will just keep away from her"
At this point my six year old daughter started to cry with real depth. I stopped her by saying, I only want you to remember two words, repent and forgive. All you have to do is repent and forgive. Then I asked her what she needs to do. She went on about forgiving, and I asked what the first word was. She didn't remember right away and I (being impatient) said "it is not a trick, it starts with an r"
I then went on to say that we should ask for forgiveness and forgive. I realized that it was a little tricky for a six year old who was very emotional and talking to an impatient dad. Asking for forgiveness is repenting. Forgiving is repenting from not loving each other as God would. So they are really the same thing.
I hate a fault. I avoid it even when it is better to have it out. As I thought about this experience, I thought of an LDS Facebook group I am in. And I thought about the true order of prayer we learn in the temple.
We must be willing to ask for forgiveness and forgive. We must repent and allow others to repent. Let's try to develop relationships of trust. That means we must be trustworthy and be willing to risk trusting others.

There are some pretty diverse opinions in the group. The thing am most sure of is that I do not have the complete vision that God has. I know that I have some things wrong. And that it will remain that way for a looong time. I believe in the doctrine of Christ.
We should all seek for the ideal stated in the explanation of the true order of prayer. I don't expect to reach this ideal in the group, or really in most communities, but if we work toward it, we can create a little Zion right where we are.

What is the Doctrine of Christ?

After declaring the doctrine of Christ, Jesus says this, "And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them." (3 Nephi 11:40)

This makes me think of these scriptures on what is the priority:
 "Say nothing but repentance unto this generation; keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed." (D&C 6:9)
"And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost." (D&C 19:31)
"And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen." (D&C 16:6)

It seems to me that the core of the "Doctrine of Christ" are
- Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
- Repentance
- Baptism, by immersion for the remission of sin and
- The laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

In 3 Nephi 11
- Believe is found 4 times
- Repent is found 4 times
- Baptism is found 13 times
- Holy Ghost is found 6 times
- The chapter heading says, "Christ’s doctrine is that men should believe and be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost"

Some other points of the Doctrine of Christ.
In 1 Nephi 11:1-17, Jesus confirms the faith of many. If it is possible that there were any that did not yet have faith, he offered it to them.
In 1 Nephi 11:18-27, Jesus calls Nephi to be the presiding authority among the people. He gave him power to baptize the people and to call others to. It confirms the need for the ordinance and that authority is necessary to perform it.
In 1 Nephi 11:28-30, he declares that disputations and contention are not of God.

1 Ne 11:31 says he will state his doctrine.
:32 the Father gave the doctrine to him. He bears record of the Father. The Father bears record of the Son. The Holy Ghost bears record of the Father and the Son. This is his declaration that we are to have faith in.
:32 The first commandment he gives here is to "repent and believe in me". It is interesting to me that repentance comes before faith. Although the first half of the verse is also about faith.
:33-34 if we believe in Jesus and are baptized we are saved [from the consequences of sin]. We will inherit the kingdom of God. If we do not, we are damned.
:35 He states again what his doctrine is, to believe in him, and the Father and if we do, the Father will visit him with fire and the Holy Ghost.
:36 They bear record of each other
:37-38 Repent, be baptized, become as a little child. What is it about being as a little child? Humble, coachable, eager.
:39 Declaring again what the doctrine is. And that it is a sure foundation that hell itself cannot shake us from.

Monday, October 06, 2014

"It was tangible and I could feel it"

Kathryn Skaggs decided to share her conversion story.

"Whenever I was around my mother's family, I felt the Spirit and knew that I was amidst truth.  It was tangible and I could feel it. I loved being in the midst of that feeling. To me I was home."

This is how I feel about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unlike Kathryn, I was raised in a practicing Mormon family. They practiced in letter and in spirit. I was raised by parents that love the Lord and are following the best they know how. The Lord requires no more of anyone.

I love the gospel and feel its power down in my bones. It has been a long time since I have gotten emotional about it, but I am now. To be connected to God by knowing and doing His will is life and light and joy to me.

"Everyone has their own ongoing conversion journey..." I love this message in Kathryn's post. Testimony and conversion are not binary. They are spectrums. We move from darkness to light, ignorance to knowledge. From a rebelling attitude to one of freely giving to the One who gave us life. We grow from a seed to a tree and beyond.

Adjourn or Adieu

When I hear "adjourn" at the end of General Conference, it seems rather formal. When I think of what it means, break off (a meeting, legal case, or game) with the intention of resuming it later", it reminds me of the last word of Jacob, adieu.

Jacob seems to be saying, "farewell until we meet with God". President Eyring is not saying "Fare well, I may never see you again". He is saying goodbye, or "God be with you until we meet again".

The Odd Use of the Word "Even"

Sometimes LDS speakers in General Conference use the word "even" in an unfamiliar way. One phrase is "even Jesus Christ". If you search the usage of it in the scriptures you will find many. As I have thought about it, I think it might mean something similar to the phrase, "the very same". So if someone says "even Jesus Christ", it may mean "the very same Jesus Christ I have told you about."

The MacMillan dictionary captures this definition

Even is used for emphasis mainly before a word, a phrase, or a clause beginning with "as," "if," or "though." When emphasizing verbs, even comes before an ordinary verb: They even served champagne at breakfast. But even comes after an auxiliary verb, a modal verb, or the verb "to be": She doesn't even know his name. ♦ Some computers can even talk to you.

Sometimes even is used after a word for emphasis: São Paulo is a huge city, larger even than New York. ♦ The task might be difficult, impossible even.

  1. used for showing that you are saying something that is surprising
    not even
    even now (=used for saying it is surprising that something still continues)
    even then (=used for saying that something is surprising after what has happened)