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Sunday, September 23, 2018

We Already Know Him


In the April 1985 General Conference, Bruce R. McConkie said, "...I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God's almighty Son..."  This last testimony Elder McConkie bore was powerful and it was immortalized in the hearts of those who heard it because of his untimely death two weeks later.

How sweet it would be for each of us if we could leave this world at the apex of our spiritual journey, declaring as we go that we will not know any better when we get there, that Jesus lives.

In order to truely understand the power and triumph of what he said, I think we have to consider a few things.

We already know Jesus personally.  We know God personally too.  We lived with them for a length of time our mortal minds probably can't even comprehend before we came to Earth.  It is only the veil placed over our minds that prevents us from remembering that life and those relationships.

We all sang together with joy when the plan to come to Earth was unveiled (Job 38:7).  But that is not all.  A loving Heavenly Father, whose plan it is to make each of us like himself, instructed Jesus to call his laborers for the period of 6 days in the creation of this world.  In other words, many if not all of us served as apprentices in the creation of this Earth and bringing into fruition the Great Plan of Happiness.  What exactly we learned from that experience would be hard to say but it stands to reason that we came here with enthusiasm and with a vested interest in succeeding, because we were participants in the Plan.

Russel M Ballard stated in the April 2018 general conference, '"...As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." Notice a twofold action--God sends His Son.  The Son sends His servants--mortal men and women--to accomplish Their work."

This was the case also when "Michael and his angels fought against the dragon..." (Revelation 12:7) Who would those angels be, if not us?  It seems that we had the opportunity to participate in every event leading up to our presence on this world.

During all this eventful time spent in pre-earth events, we would naturally have developed a relationship with those we followed?

Thus, I think the reason, "Every knee will bend and every tongue confesses that Jesus is the Christ" (Romans 14:11) when he returns will be because everyone (even those who don’t believe in Him now) will remember the eons we spent together creating this world and planning our journey to the "second estate."  We will remember Jesus our brother, our friend and our Savior.

So why don’t remember any of that now?  It seems like it would be helpful.

Bruce R. McConkie never could have made that declaration if he remembered all he had been through in the pre-existence.  We must, without the training wheels of God's presence, come to believe what we know by living here alone.   That is the culmination of all the work that we started in the pre-existence.

Knowlege is naturally a byproduct of action.  That action must be of our own free will without influcance from a loving Father in Heaven; otherwise, it would not be our own.  That is why we had to come here and forget all we know so that we can show through our actions, not our lips, that "[we] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command..." (Abraham 3:25).  Our works will justify what we say we know. (James 2:18).

That is why I think phrases like, "Confess Jesus and be saved" will choke in the throats of those who knew the Gospel of Jesus Christ and did little with it while in this "probationary state."  We will have traded our birthright for Esau's mess of Pottage.

Just imagine meeting the Savior, our longtime friend, and realizing that we squandered this one time opportunity that we worked together so hard to bring into fruition; and for what...the mirage of fast cars, fame, or worldly pleasures.

At that moment the scriptures will ring true that say we will want the mountains to cover us and hide us from the eyes of the Lord (Revelations 6: 15-16); not just because we will be ashamed of our evil works, but because of the anguish we will feel realizing that we missed the chance to become like our Father in Heaven.

John Greenleaf Whittier:
For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, "It might have been."

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Angels In The Outfield

If there really are angels watching us and even at times helping us, as recorded in Church history, why don't we see them?   Wouldn't it be more faith promoting if the pioneers had actually seen heavenly beings pushing their carts when they couldn't make it a step further on their own?  What could be the advantage in angels secretly helping us?

When I was a senior in high school a carload of us were headed up the canyon on the highway to a party.  One of our friends, who had very little experience riding motorcycles, decided to borrow a powerful street bike and ride it up to the party.  He recognized us in the car up ahead of him and so he hunkered down behind the small glass windshield and laid the throttle down hard.  He went past us like we weren't even moving.  We all cheered as he zipped past because it was so cool.  After he passed us, being inexperienced as he was, he sat up to wave at us and the wind took him right off the bike.  Somehow his feet caught the handlebars and we watched in horror as he struggled to get back on the seat while streaking down the highway.  By some miracle, he managed to get upright and stop on the side of the road.  He was so shaken up that he refused to get back on and someone else had to come and take the bike home.  The power of that motorcycle proved too much for his limited experience and maturity to handle.

Most of us have either taught our children to ride a bicycle or remember being taught ourselves.  Imagine if instead of putting you on a bicycle with training wheels, your parents put you on a powerful motorcycle.  It's a ridiculous idea and yet a perfect comparison to an angel appearing to those who are not spiritually prepared.

The Lord teaches us line upon line and precept upon precept in order to protect us from running faster than we have strength.

The ultimate goal in this life is for us to bear as much as we can without any support.  Just as Jesus was ultimately left alone as he hung on the cross crying out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

It must be incredibly difficult for a loving Heavenly Father and even our ancestors to watch us struggle through this life and not be able, in most instances, to help because it would be counterproductive and even detrimental to our spiritual growth to intercede with angelic visitations.

Thus, for now, the angels among us do their work quietly and unseen, so as not to disrupt our education.

Orson F Whitney
...premature knowledge--knowing at the wrong time--is fatal both to progress and to happiness.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Bible vs. Eternal Marriage

How is it that we believe in eternal marriage when the Bible clearly states in Matthew 22:30 that, in the resurrection, we are neither married nor given in marriage?

Here is an idea to consider....When my son Tyler was blessed 18 years ago, my two sisters, Leah and Anna, and a family friend named Karen wrote the words of the blessing for me.  All three scratched out the words in real time as I spoke them; but interestingly, Leah's version fills a whole page, Anna's version is written in shorthand, covering about 3/4 of a page and Karen's is written in paragraph format.  Most of the content is the same.  But each version has unique content that does not appear in the others.


How is it possible if they all heard and wrote the same blessing, to have three differing records of it?  Can it be said that anything Anna didn't write wasn't actually said or that Leah made up any details in her lengthier account?  Of course not.  They were all writing as fast as they could and remembering as much as they could...but they are all human.

We all have this idea that the prophets of old were superhuman, never slept, never ate and never made mistakes.  Yet, the fact that the Lord felt it necessary to have the gospel written four times by four different prophets illustrates the natural shortcomings of even those called of God.

With that in mind it is interesting to note that in Luke's account (Luke 20:35), the Lord said, "...they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world..."  Implying that there is more than one kingdom and worthiness is a factor for entrance.  Perhaps the Lord chose not to elaborate in that moment on all the possible answers to that question and only one of His apostles picked up on the subtle reference He made to the fact that there are other kingdoms for which the answer may be different.

It makes perfect sense that when being questioned by an enemy, whose purpose was not to obtain an answer, the Savior chose to give a general answer that is actually true of the Telestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom and 2 of the 3 degrees of the Celestial Kingdom; but still leaving the door open that there is a more in-depth answer.  A reference that perhaps he wanted the Pharisees to miss as He always gave milk before meat (1 Corinthians 3:2, Hebrews 5:12, D&C 19:22).

It is also telling that the Pharisee who asked the question obviously knew that there was marriage in the next life or he wouldn't have asked which man would have her.

The Bible is true and it is the word of God.  The prophets that recorded it were mortal.  Some doctrines were taught as "milk" because of the audience.

President Boyd K. Packer:
Individual doctrines of the gospel are not fully explained in one place in the scriptures, nor presented in order or sequence.  They must be assembled from pieces here and there. They are sometimes found in large segments, but mostly they are in small bits scattered through the chapters and verses. 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Blessing Of Excommunication

When a car has a flat tire, you must first lift the weight of the car off the tire before you can replace it.

Many people don't understand the purpose that excommunication serves.  The name itself carries the connotation of expelling someone from a society.  That is simply not the case in our church.  It is actually a valuable part of the process of repentance used only in cases of the most serious sin.

Excommunication serves the same purpose as taking the weight off a tire; relieving the sinner temporarily of the weight of the covenants they have made to help them to make the difficult but necessary changes in their life.  Temporary is the keyword.  It only works if the person is repentant.  Just like leaving a flat tire on a car will permanently immobilize it; but temporarily relieving the weight on the tire allows it to be changed.

Repentance in the Church of Jesus Christ is not just a confession of wrongdoing.  It is a change in behavior.  That is true with minor sins as much as it is true of serious sin.  But in the case of serious sin, it may take time to break from the addition of bad habits that have developed.  In such a case, excommunication may be used as a tool to assist the sinner temporarily while those habits are broken.

We are a covenant people.  Those covenants carry with them great responsibility; otherwise, it wouldn't be a covenant.  Sins committed by a person under covenant are greatly magnified because he/she is held to a higher standard.  That is why two people who commit the same sin may be treated differently if one of them has been endowed and the other hasn't.  Similarly, getting a flat tire while sitting in the driveway is very different than blowing a tire while in a loaded truck going 70 miles an hour on the highway.

Excommunication is not something to strive for any more than a person would strive for a flat tire on the freeway.  But if a car does have a flat tire, you have to pull over and get out.  Similarly, a decision to excommunicate a person is an act of love to relieve the pressure on the sinner and help get that person get back on the road.

In cases where the person is defiant and has no intention to repent, excommunication can become the final chapter in their spiritual journey; but only because they walked away from the car rather than fix the tire.  But no matter the sin, no matter the length of time, the door stands open to receive that person back into full membership, if they repent.

Luke 15:18
I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee and am no more worthy to be called thy son...But when he was a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Monkey Business

For over 50 years chimpanzees have been taught with great success to communicate through sign language.  Yet from the first one in 1965 until today, a chimpanzee has never asked a question.  They have the tools to communicate but lack the curiosity to question the world around them.

Similarly, millions of God's children have been taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but many of us lack the curiosity to go beyond just knowing that it is true.  It's like having a Ferrari nicely stored in a garage somewhere.

I was in the gym one day last week for over an hour.  There was a young man that wandered in just after I got there.  He casually lifted a few wights and then sat down with his phone for almost half an hour.  Then he lifted a couple more wights and sat down with his phone again.  He was still sitting there when I left.  I wonder if he thinks that just being in the gym will make him stronger?

"Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile" -Billy Sunday

We have the unique and unparalleled ability to question the world around us.  No other life on Earth can do that, because we are children of God.  But even a loving, all-powerful God cannot impose self-improvement on a person.  He can only give us the tools and see what we do with them.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:26
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.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Words That Cannot Be Spoken

The day of the Sandy Hook school shooting I listened in horror as the news about the shooting rolled out every hour on the hour; each report more horrific than the last.

As I made my way home that evening with a heavy heart I happened to be listening to a religious music station.  At the conclusion of a particularly beautiful song an announcer with a deep, smooth radio voice came on and said that he would like to say a prayer for the victims and families of Sandy Hook.  As he did, the power of his prayer affected me in a way that I just can't do justice in print.  As I sat listening at a red light, I felt a tear making its way down my cheek.

In 3 Nephi 17:17 it says that Jesus prayed and the words that he spoke, "no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive..."

I'll admit that this scripture has both frustrated and puzzled me for years.  Why couldn't they just write the words he said so I could experience Jesus praying?  What does that even mean that the words cannot be written?   But I think I finally understand, because of Sandy Hook.  I could play for you a recording of the prayer that was given that day, but it would not likely have the impact that it did on me that day; because it wasn't just words.  It was the horrific events of the day leading to an emotional build-up which made a place in my heart for those words at that particular time.  The power of that moment could only be experienced in that moment.

It's kind of like when you hear a song from high school and you feel a sudden rush of emotion that you haven't felt for years.  Playing that song for a friend would not do it justice because its not just a song.  The reason it's more than a song is that song played, for example, the first time you kissed someone and that flood of excitement is forever fused with the music, the car you drove home and the time of night you were driving.  A three-dimensional moment was created that is the sum of all the parts.  So today, when you hear that song, see the car or drive late at night the experience comes back to you, but no one else can truly appreciate what your feeling just by hearing one part of the experience; like the song.  It would be like trying to get a friend to understand the smell of a flower by showing them a picture of one.

So, as frustrating as it is, there are words that no tongue can speak, neither can be written because they were so much more than just words.  The Nephites had lost numerous cities and countless people to natural disasters and then they were present for the first appearance of Jesus Christ on the American continent; which meeting culminated in the healing of the sick and the Savior praying with them to Heavenly Father.  Thus, just having the words Jesus spoke in that prayer simply would not do justice to what was happening in that moment.  In fact, because of the sacred nature of that moment, it would be a sacrilege to have recorded his words for people to read out of context.

Perhaps in the next life, we can first experience all the background that gave life to the words that were spoken that day. 

1 Corinthians 2:14
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Lowest Common Denominator

In Hungarian tradition, there is a fascinating story about a Capitan named Sylvester Danos whose only son was found assassinated in a town Capitan Danos' army was occupying.  The king was so enraged that one of his soldiers and the son of one of his greatest commanders was murdered that he ordered the City of Canossa was to be plundered by the Hungarian army for three hours.  The gates of the city were locked so no one could leave before the appointed time of reckoning.  Each resident undoubtedly imagined the brutality they were about to endure; stripped of all possessions and their daughters dishonored. 

When the troops had assembled in the town square, their commander Capitan Danos, still morning for the loss of his son, stood before them and said, "Hungarian men!  The king has resolved to punish the town of Canossa because in its streets one of his soldiers was treacherously assassinated.  He has therefore decreed that the town shall be given over to plunder by the Hungarian troops for the space of three hours.  Accordingly, I give you permission to go forth and seize whatever your eyes covet and your heart desires, from the priest's golden cross to the virgins' kiss.  This you may do in the name of the king and none shall say you nay.  But in my own name,  I tell you that it is not the part of an honest man to avail himself of such a permission.  Now, do what you think fit."

The sound of the clock tower echoed through town marking the beginning of the siege, but not another sound was heard.  No doors slamming open, no women screaming.  Not a single soldier broke from his ranks.  For three hours every man in that army stood at attention until the final bell rang out marking the conclusion of three hours.  The streets instantly filled with the residents of the town cheering the soldiers and dragging them by force into the homes that they were feared to have entered only hours before.

In today's society, we have similar permissions of the government and society to indulge ourselves.  Not in a raid of each other's homes per se, but to partake of things we should not.  Recreational marijuana is legal to enjoy, pornography is aggressively protected under the rights of free speech, and I won't be surprised when prostitution becomes legal here as it is in other parts of the world.

It seems every vice known to man is either protected or promoted by our society.  We can reduce our lives to the lowest common denominator with the full permissions of the government and society and there is none to say us nay. 

In the Book of Mormon, the lawyers accusing Alma and Amulek said they were reviling against their laws.  Then and now people think somehow that if the government allows it, that makes it right.

But it is not the part of an honest Christian to avail himself of such permissions.  We should stand our ranks in the Lord's army until the final bell calls us home.  President Nelson taught, "Why would any man waste his days and settle for Esau's mess of pottage when he has been entrusted with the possibility of receiving all of the blessings of Abraham?"

There is a price for indulging in the world's carnal pleasures, even if it is legal.  Our freedom.  Our families.  Our salvation.

Alexander Pope:
Vice is a monster of so frightful Mien,
As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;
Yet seen to oft, familiar with her face, 
we first endure, then pity, then embrace.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A Matter Of Perspective

When my son Alex was ordained to the office of a priest, the bishop allowed my older son Tyler and I to bless the sacrament with him the first time.  It was a moment of indescribable pride to have two sons who were worthy priesthood holders standing on either side of me performing that sacred ordinance.

To my surprise Alex was kicking himself on the way home because he made a mistake his first time through the prayer and had to start again; so he thought he had done a bad job.  The same thing happened when Tyler did it for the first time.  Interestingly, at that same moment that he was frustrated with himself, I was flying high with the pride of a father.  I was excited about the fact that they were both worthy participants in the gospel and great kids; he was focused only on the technicality of an individual moment.

It made me wonder how often, as children of God, we make mistakes in life and we are down here kicking ourselves and feeling hopeless while simultaneously a loving Heavenly Father is looking down with great pride at his child who is fighting the good fight, struggling against a tidal wave of daily challenges.

God loves us more than we love ourselves I think.  He understands the mountains we must climb to overcome this world and ourselves to become celestial beings.  It is Satan who uses discouragement as a vehicle to push us away from him.  I don’t think we understood how hard it would be in this life, but he did.

Some of us mess up more than others, but it is not perfection that makes him proud, it’s a child who won’t give up.

Vince Lombardi, Jr.
When you see someone on top of a mountain, you know he didn’t fall there.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Works Without Faith

"Faith without works," is an oft-quoted phrase at church...but is there such a thing as "works without faith?"  In other words, going through the motions of keeping the commandments without really believing it.

When children are tasked with household chores, they often do as little as they think they can get away with. That is because children are not cleaning in order to live in a clean house, they are cleaning just to complete an assigned task.

Similarly, many of us as adults are keeping the commandments just to fulfill an assignment, rather than to become celestial beings.  This is perhaps a symptom of the backward thinking that we get points for keeping commandments.  In fact, the benefit of keeping a commandment is who you become as a result, not some superficial blessing you receive as a reward for doing it.

I don't think we are blessed separately just for coming to church while we play games on our phones through sacrament meeting.  The blessing is in the meeting, if we find it.  Do we expect a separate blessing for adherence to the Word of Wisdom, other than good health?  The list could go on, but perhaps there are more half-hearted “works without faith” going on in our lives than we realize.

I think it is possible to know something but not believe it.  That may sound backward but it may not be.  Belief is the action that certifies what we know.  I can tell my kids that their lives will be better if they don’t participate in certain behaviors and then they know it’s true because I told them; but they may not believe it.  So, they go out and make the same mistakes we all did as teenagers and then they believe what they really already knew.  This is what happened to us in the pre-existence.  The all-powerful God of our universe surely told us what is right and what is wrong; so we all knew it because he said so.  But it was not possible for us to believe it until we came here to Earth to experience it for ourselves.

Even if you know something, you have to have a great deal of faith or belief in it before you can carry it out consistently and in front of others.  Peter knew that Jesus was the Christ, yet he denied him three times because his faith in that knowledge was not yet strong enough.

We are not saved as a church.  We are saved as individuals.  It takes enormous personal effort in living the commandments, not just obeying them; so that we can come to believe what we know to be true.

Moroni 7:8
For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Alive But Not Living

Last weekend our young men hiked White Mountain; one of several peaks in California that is over 14,000 feet.  When we arrived at the base camp, we climbed to the top of a large hill to watch the sunset.  Moments after arriving on top, with breathtaking views in every direction and spectacular color in the sky, one of the boys realized that he was getting cell service and within seconds every boy was playing Fortnite on their phones (that's a popular video game for those of you who are "old" and out of the know).  Instead of drinking in the beauty of nature, the digital pied piper of our day hypnotized them away into the soft glow of their smartphone world; rendering the beauty all around them irrelevant.  Not because it didn't exist, but because they weren't experiencing it.


Albert Einstein said, "The only source of knowledge is experience."

We know through modern revelation that "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection."

Thus, if it is through experience that we gain knowledge and knowledge is all that rises with us into the next life, then it follows that Satan does not need to convert you to win; he only needs to distract you from having experiences.

I love that saying that we are not humans having a spiritual experience, we are spirits having a human experience.  The purpose of this life is to master ourselves while in these temporary bodies so that we can be endowed with greater power in the next life with our permanent bodies.

But, just like those boys who sat atop a panoramic mountain starring into their smartphones; it is possible for us to go through life so distracted by the world, that we miss out on the purpose for which we have come.

2 Nephi 28:21
And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security...and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

Calvin Coolidge
All growth depends upon activity.  There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.

Abraham 3:25
And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Intellect Is Not Authority

I met a Lutheran minister on a radio show discussing the topic of religion during Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.  He and I became friends and I asked him one day in his office where his priesthood authority comes from.  He gestured towards a plaque on the wall, indicating that he had been to seminary. 

My question to him was about priesthood authority, his answer to me was about intellectual training.  To him, and most other religions, they are one and the same.  

Priesthood authority (the ability to act in the name of God) is actual, not intellectual.  If you learn everything there is to know about a car, that doesn't mean you own one.  The actual authority of God can only be received by the laying on of hands by someone who holds that priesthood authority themselves; not by having an above average GPA at a prestigious seminary.

Authority means permission or the ability to act in the name of.  If that is true, from whom does a person who graduates seminary get his permission?  A book he studied?  Another person who also read that book?  

Intellect is not authority.

This confusion between authority and intellect is one reason why we have more than 40,000 very different Christian religions, all based on the Bible.  No amount of intellectual training gives a person the ability to say, "Thus sayeth the Lord." 

It is not just in the ministry, in today's pop culture world we accept as gospel the words of any famous movie or sports star; as if their talents on the court or the silver screen somehow convey authority to speak any subject they want.

In stark contrast, God's prophets have often been very young, uneducated or ineloquent.  Joseph Smith, JeremiahSamuel, and David were all young.  Moses and Enoch were "slow of speech."

The Lord specifically chooses such to do his work so that we know it is the work of the Lord and not the work of man.

This isn't to say that a prophet can't be intelligent.  Our current prophet is a renowned and respected surgeon.  But that is not where his authority to speak in the name of the Lord comes from.

It is authority that makes this the true Church of Jesus Christ.

Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Don't Bank On It

Last summer we received a reverse 911 call informing us of a mandatory evacuation order because a fire was headed towards Paradise.  As I was anxiously hooking up the 5th wheel to pull out of town, I noticed the next door neighbor watering her grass.  I asked her if she was going to evacuate?  It was a rhetorical question really because the evacuation order was mandatory.  To my surprise, she said, "No, I work at the Bank of the West and its all brick.  If it gets bad, I am just going to go over there and wait it out."

That seemed to make sense.  I'll never forget the creepy feeling as I pulled away while she watered her grass.  In the end it didn't matter because the fire never made it to our town; thanks to CAL FIRE.

Many months later I was awakened early in the morning by a phone call that my daughter's school had been canceled for the day because the Bank of the West building next door had burned down.  No other structures burned but they closed my daughter's school next door because it lost power.

As I stood looking at the hollowed remains and charred brick walls, I remembered my neighbor saying that this is where she was going to go for safety, if the fire made it to Paradise.  Her plan didn't sound so good anymore.  It turns out that the building was built mostly of wood like any other building but it had a cosmetic brick overlay; giving it a superficial impression of safety.  Ignoring the warning from CAL FIRE officials to evacuate would not have ended well for her, if the fire had come to town.


How often do we hear the warnings of the prophets and decide whether or not we will take the warnings seriously; like not watching R rated movies, dating too young as teenagers, having our emergency supply of food, or paying tithing?

Ezra Taft Bensen, in the October 1980 General Conference said, "The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah."

I wonder if those of us who choose to ignore those warnings from the prophets will one day lament, as did the Nephites, "O that we had repented before this great and terrible day..."  They had been warned many times, just as we have been.

The Lord’s promises of protection are only valid if we heed the warning.

Malachi 4:1
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble...

Jeremiah 17:5
...cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm...

Sunday, June 3, 2018

No Haters In Heaven

We are a product of the experiences we have in life.  Just like a study of your DNA will reveal what nationalities you hail from; your current opinions and beliefs are in some ways a product of the experiences you have had up to today.  Those experiences don't dictate what we do, but they have a great influence on how we think and act in our daily lives.

Right before I was to speak one Sunday the bishop stood up to announce that he had just received word that a young man in the congregation had been killed riding his bike the night before.  An audible gasp and then a hush went over the congregation as the news shocked each of us.

I was almost as shocked to hear him say that the parents of this young man wanted to say something.  His loving parents came to the pulpit; softly and with tears in their eyes they bore the most powerful testimony I had ever heard about eternal families and how we will see our families again in the next life.  There was not a dry eye in the room.

As I stood to speak, I realized that the topic I was prepared to speak on was suddenly and completely inappropriate.  I stood silent in front of the teary-eyed crowd, struggling for how to begin or even what to say in that heart-wrenching moment; when a profound thought struck me...there are no scars in heaven.

Here on earth events have an emotional impact on each of us that bolsters or scars us emotionally and thus influences our daily existence for great lengths of time, if not our whole lives.  Some extreme examples would be how seniors who grew up in the Great Depression won't throw away used band-aids for fear of being wasteful, the heroes that serve in the armed forces often come home with PTSD, or someone we love passes away far too early.

These are major events, but even the smaller ones become part of our existence; manifesting themselves in our views of the world and how we react to future events.  It is a natural part of being human.

In the next life, there will be no such thing as PTED (Post Traumatic Earth Disorder).  It is not that we won't remember the pain we had here; we just simply won't have any use for it anymore.  How can you be sad about death when everyone you ever knew is alive and well.  How can you be sad about suffering when all physical ailments have been abated forever?

The suffering of this life is simply a means to an end; a way of teaching us the difference between happiness and sadness, good and evil or right and wrong.

Eder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss...Every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.”

Unfortunately, I think there are a few things from this life that can transcend the joy of that post-mortal existence; one of them is hatred.  Those who will not forgive others can carry that hatred into the next life unless and until they decide to give it up.  Just like the way you cannot smile and frown at the same time, you can't hate and love at the same time.

There is no day coming where we will watch gleefully while revenge is meted out to those who offended us.  The Lord has said, "Vengeance is mine..."  Yet, have you noticed that there are people, even now, who are so consumed by hatred that they can't see how blessed they are?

Many years ago I visited a less active member of the church who told me that she would never come back to church because of what Bishop White had done.  I had just moved to Paradise and the name didn't sound familiar, so I asked who he was.  She told me that he was her bishop in San Fransico. I asked when she had moved to Paradise and she told me about 30 years earlier.  Its been about 15 years since she told me that and she has still not come back to church.  So for some 45 years she has been depriving herself of the gospel of Jesus Christ because she was offended by a bishop in San Fransico; who probably didn't even know he offended her.

I wonder if there will be people in the next life residing in kingdoms below their potential, telling this same story about how they were offended back on Earth?  It seems possible when you consider "...that same spirit which doth possesses your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world."

The pains of this life will be alleviated in the next, but you have to decide to forgive.

One thing I am sure of is that there will be no haters in heaven.  If you have any unkind feelings towards any member of heaven you will be asked to withdraw so that the Lord can be present.

Forgive.  Move on.

Matthew 5:46-48
46. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? 47. And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? 48. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

#MeToo

The following is my personal opinion and does not reflect any official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I was flying home from a work conference last year in April and a business college of mine spent most of the short flight talking about how right it is that he encourages his boys to masturbate.  Talk about awkward.  It was more of a justification speech than a conversation.  I don't know if I was more shocked at his views or that he was talking about it with a woman sitting between us.

This forceful imposition of his views is typical of how so many in the world need us to agree with them because they think somehow that if enough people believe it; it becomes ok.  As if by normalizing something, the natural consequences are abated.

We are saturated in society's filth.  We can't even watch a Carl's Jr. hamburger commercial without having to endure a half-naked female model in some lude pose.

Playboy recently announced that they were removing naked women from their magazine because nudity had become so prevalent and so accessible on the internet that you can't sell it anymore.

Even if you put the religious aspect of self-control and inappropriate images aside for a moment and just consider this issue from a secular perspective; sex and pornography are addictive no different than many other chemical addictions.  That is a fact.  The problem with any addiction is that the more of it you use, the less effect it has on you; creating a progressive need for more.  In other words, masturbation and pornography are "gateway drugs" to sex addiction.

If you doubt that is true, I submit to you the sudden unveiling of the reprobates in our society that have given rise to the #MeToo movement.  Where do you think all these men came from?  Everyone is so anxious to prosecute these vipers of society, but those same people who feign surprise over the actions of these men have no interest in asking how these titans of society came to be that way. That is because they already know the answer and choose to ignore it.  These men grew up in the "sexual revolution;" which is nothing more than a cover for normalizing and rationalizing the lack of self-control.

I wonder if now, faced with all the abuse that is going on, if the #MeToo folks are going to call for society to instill the values of self-control and modesty to be taught to our children to prevent this from happening in future generations.  Don't hold your breath.

In fact, they are doubling down.  This year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit addition honored the #MeToo movement by replacing the normal swimsuit models with naked models, on which they wrote #MeToo phrases.  The magazine said the women they are objectifying in this year's issue were allowed to pick the words to display on their bodies in the nude photos; as a means of empowering them.  Sports Illustrated editor MJ Day told Vanity Fair that she hopes the images will help change attitudes about how women are seen.

Are these people really this dense?  This was like providing an open bar to alcoholics as a sign of solidarity for the Alcoholics Anonymous program.  Not to mention this is a female editor objectifying other females in the name of empowering women.  It doesn't take a genius to see that rather than stemming the tide of sexual reprobates, those like Sports Illustrated, who say they are supporting the #MeToo movement, are enabling the distribution of the drug that motivates them.

Will there ever be a reckoning with the source of the problem rather than the product of it?  Unlikely.  Because those pointing out the crimes of others are snorting the same dope.

Ted Bundy, the mass rapist and murderer of young college girls, said in an interview with Dr. James Dobson the night before his execution, that he started with pornography and, as is the case with all addictions, pornography eventually wasn't enough for him and one thing led to the next until he ended up murdering young women. Bundy said in the interview, "out there are many, many more people who are addicted to pornography and you are doing nothing about that."  That interview was back in the 70's!  I wonder if the upcoming movie about Ted will illuminate the dangers of pornography?  Not likely.

I'm not saying that Harvey Weinstein would have become a murderer, but this sex addiction that is provided free of charge by our society is the same type of progressive addiction driving men to more and more reprehensible behavior.  How can this epidemic ever end when society points an accusing finger at the addicted men with one hand, while they simultaneously encourage the very environment that enables those men with the other?

Let's call this what it is; mass addiction to sex.  The fact that it has become so common that people talk about it on airplanes, does not change the nature of what it is.

The cure is simple and available.  Let's teach our young men the value of self-control and our young women the value self-respect and the problem will irradicate itself in the next generation.

Helaman 6:38
...BEGINNING at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the RIGHTEOUS until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils... 

Alma 5:57 / 2 Corinthians 6:17
...Come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things...

1 Corinthians 6:19
...Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God...

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Independently Happy

It's hard not to be envious of people who are independently wealthy.  No matter what else happens, they are still wealthy.

Our odds of winning the Lotto or being born into the family that started Walmart are pretty slim, but have you ever considered the possibility of being independently happy?

Why do the external circumstances of our lives get to dictate whether or not we are happy?  Why do we allow other individuals who are perpetually unhappy (I know you know one) to force their unhappiness on us?

Most of us allow our attitude to blow whichever direction the winds of daily circumstance take it; rather than determining for ourselves that we will be happy independent of what happens around us.

Similarly, have you ever noticed how the things we pray the hardest for are often things we already had and lost?   Ask the parent of a sick child if she has ever prayed harder than to have her child's health back.  Would you ever pray that hard for a boat?  A lot of the time when we want something back so badly, we didn't truly appreciate it when we did have it (speaking from experience here).

Why does it take a crisis for us to recognize what great things we already had?  Imagine if someone you love died and you prayed so fervently that the Lord brought them back to life.  Your joy would be off the chart.  Yet, since that person is still here; you are not experiencing that immense joy.

That begs the question, would your joy in the previous example happen because a miracle happened or would your joy come from having your loved one back?  If its the latter, shouldn't you be that happy now?

The means for independent happiness is all around us.  We just miss it while we choose to focus on the gossip of someone we don't even like or what we have decided is an unfair hand in life.

Give this a try...pick the person that you love the most and pretend that he/she died tragically.  Then spend this week acting as you would if that person was miraculously returned to you.  No matter what else happens, you will be happier than any amount of money could provide.  The usual interruptions in your life will seem petty and will have little ability to stem the tide of your joy.

We have it in us to be independently happy, we just need to focus on the right things.  2 Nephi 2:25 says that, "...men are that they might have joy."  If an all-powerful Father in Heaven put us here for the purpose of being happy, it seems likely that we can be.

John Greenleaf Whittier
For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, "it might have been."

Saturday, May 12, 2018

All Roads Lead To Root Beer

A very respectful non-member attended my gospel principles class not too long ago.  He was a great benefit to the class because he asked sincere questions about things that we don't talk about enough. For example, he told the class that it offends him how we say that we are the true Church of Jesus Christ.  In his opinion, he said, all roads lead to Heaven.  

In response, I asked him, "If I offered you a root beer float and you declined, because you don't like root beer, have you been wronged?"  

Every person should either believe that their church is the true church, or they should be attending somewhere else.  So why are people offended by our belief?  

The answer can be found in an analysis of what "all roads lead to heaven" really means.  That phrase is just code for moral relativism or that there is no universal truth.  Everyone can do as they please because everyone is right.  In other words, "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us...and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God."  (2 Nephi 28:8-9)

But when someone shows up declaring universal truth, it obligates us to change our behavior.  That's why it offends some people; not because they disagree but because they don't want to change.

Jesus Christ lives.  There is truth.  If a person doesn't want His gospel because they prefer a tradition they are more comfortable with or is more convenient for their lifestyle; they should not be offended any more than a person who prefers Pepsi over root beer.

Revelation 3:20
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A Hard Lesson In Forgiveness

When I was in jr. high, I was a nerd first class.  I was often chased home from school or beat up on the way there.  Not every day, but enough that I developed a certain preference for chainlink fences because having your face pressed against chainlink doesn't leave splinters the way a wood fence does.  Sometimes survival is all about timing the inevitable.

My arch nemesis, Jeremy Jones, was a football star and all that.  I played volleyball which irritated him even more than my nerdy appearance.  In my art class with Jeremy, the teacher would set us to our tasks and leave.  As soon as the teacher was gone Jeremy would find some means of torture for me.  One day I was wearing a tie, because it was game day, and Jeremy dragged me to the front of the class by my tie and choked me with it until my eyes watered up.  After his petrified audience filed out at the conclusion of the period, his girlfriend Jennifer (a cheerleader) came up and ask if I was ok.  I couldn't understand why she didn't say something during class.

I spent many hours hoping that a cement truck would meet Jeremy on the crosswalk.

Many years later my fiance Emily and I were flying from California to my hometown in Utah with a friend of hers.  While on approach into Salt Lake City, Emily's friend had an asthma attack.  Somehow she had accidentally packed her rescue inhaler under the plane.  The stewardesses did what they could for her while the pilot made an emergency descent into the airport.  As soon as we hit the ground the crew hustled us off the plane to the waiting paramedics.

Everyone stood there motionless while the paramedics worked on her.  A crowd of curious passengers formed around us.  I also stood there motionless; not only out of concern, but also because I instantly recognized the paramedic working diligently to help our friend...Jeremy Jones.  The man I had been harboring hatred for since my youth.  I watched in amazement because he truly seemed compassionate and concerned about her welfare (and appeared to be quite skilled at his craft).  All the hatred I had buried but not forgotten suddenly felt out of place.  He seemed to have changed.

Our friend was fine and back to her old self.  But I walked out of the Salt Lake Airport with a completely different attitude.

I don't know what kind of man Jeremy turned out to be, but I know that he taught me a valuable lesson about forgiveness that day on the tarmac.

Joseph Smith once said, "I have been afraid to ask God to kill my enemies lest some of them, perchance, repent."

What we see in the lives of others around us is a snapshot.  The Lord has given us 70 or so years on this planet precisely because we develop over time and learn from the mistakes we make.  What a shame it is that some of us judge others based solely on a single snapshot.

Doctrine and Covenants 64:10
I the lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.

Monday, April 30, 2018

You Are Not The Body You Drive

I was intrigued the other day by a bumper sticker that read, “You are not the car you drive.”  In other words, owning or occupying a fancy car doesn’t change who you are.

I think there is a parallel here with our spirits and our bodies, which at this stage of life are only co-existing; just like a car and it's driver.  Each of us is born into a body with certain talents and/or deficits.  Even though we have no control over where we are born or what talents we are blessed with, those who are talented in sports or have beautiful appearances are treated differently and sometimes even begin to think themselves that they are better than others.

In fact, we are not the bodies we occupy.  Our temporal bodies have talents and deficits that do not necessarily reflect the spirits that occupy them.  Rather, our bodies are a reflection of the circumstances the Lord has seen fit to allow during this life for the purpose of our learning.  When we die, ONLY our knowledge will rise with our spirit.  There will be no famous sports stars or gorgeous movie actresses parading past the pearly gates on account of their fame or talents on Earth.

There is great truth in the saying, "We are not humans having a spiritual experience, we are spirits having a human experience."

It is a shame when someone falls victim to what I call the Paris Hilton syndrome.  They are born with so much wealth or talent that it ruins them as individuals and destroys their ability to glean any useful experiences from this life.  I’m not saying wealth is evil.  I'm not saying owning a nice car is a sin.  But you have to ask yourself, are you driving the car or is the car driving you?  The answer matters.

Conversely, many also fall victim to the opposite pitfall; feeling that they are actually the shortcomings of their mortal bodies or that the opinion of others will actually matter in the grand scheme of things.

Both fame and folly are tools used at times by the adversary to prevent us from having the experiences we have come here to have. 

We are all children of a loving God; spirits living temporarily in mortal bodies.  We had no say in where we were born or what type of body we would occupy these few years on Earth; nor does it matter.  We are not victims of the bodies we are born into.  It is our purpose to overcome whatever challenges we are blessed with, whether that be fame or misfortune, and thereby gain the experiences the Lord sent us here to have.

I think we will be shocked when we die and see mighty spirits rise from weak bodies and vice-versa.

Doctrine and Covenants 130:18
Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Well Done My Good And Faithful Servant

I think there is much more to using the gift of the atonement than simply accepting the forgiveness Jesus gives so freely.

If we all came here as sinless beings and the only sins we have to repent of are the ones that we commit while in this life; then it stands to reason that if we return home with nothing more than having been forgiven, we haven't really accomplished anything.

It is only in personal change that we realize the full purpose and potential of forgiveness.

Many make the mistake of thinking that perfection and the absence of sin are the same things.  They are not.

Perfection is when you have the opportunity and ability to commit sin; but you don't.  Just as the Savior had to give his life of his own free will, we must also give up our sins of our own free will.

King Lamoni's father prayed, "...I will give away all my sins to know thee..."  He is not talking about being "saved," he is talking about deciding not to commit those sins anymore as the price for knowing God.

We get this idea that if when we die we are not guilty of any major sins we will be whisked off to the celestial world and become celestial beings.  Sister Papa profoundly said, "If you want to make it to heaven, you have to take it with you."  That is why we are made to live in this world saturated with sin; so we can decide not to participate.  It is by not participating that we become celestial, not by arriving in a celestial place.

If we take our Father in Heaven as an example; He isn't God because He is hiding in a corner of Kolob not committing sin.  He is God because he has all power and only does good with it.

I believe that if we meet our Savior having nothing but the forgiveness he gave us; we will be viewed as the "wicked" and "slothful" servant was in the Parable of the Talents who returned to the Lord with nothing more than the one talent he was given.

All of the personal change in the world is worthless without the unparalleled gift of the atonement.  But, if we combine his gift with personal change then, "...when he shall appear we shall be like Him." (Moroni 7:48)

Mathew 25:20-21
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.  21 His Lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee a ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Why Do We Need The Book of Mormon?

Many sincere investigators of the Church have asked, “If the Bible is true, why do we need the Book of Mormon?”  The answer is simple and begins with a discussion about truth and the Bible.

At present, according to The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, there are over 43,000 different Christian religions based on the Bible.  In addition, Wikipedia says there are over 100 different English translations of the Bible.

Neither the religions nor the different Bibles teach the same doctrine.  Some Christian religions teach that we should pray to the Virgin Mary for forgiveness (Catholics) and others teach that you need only confess Jesus and you are saved, no matter what else you do (Baptists).  Some Bibles teach that all will be resurrected (King James Version: Job 19:26) and others teach that all will NOT be resurrected (American Standard Version: Job 19:26).  

Thus, a divine answer to a prayer about whether or not the Bible is true would do almost nothing in directing you towards truth; unless it doesn’t matter who you pray to for forgiveness or whether or not you are resurrected.

The simple and profound reason for The Book of Mormon is that when the Lord restored his true gospel to the Earth, it was necessary for him to also provide a way for his children to recognize it amid the countless sea of other churches and theologians.  Because of the Book of Mormon, anyone who is willing to ask God with a sincere heart in the name of Jesus can cut through all the religious confusion and know that God has restored his true gospel to the Earth.

Moroni 10:4
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.



Monday, July 24, 2017

Taking The Sacrament In Vain

Imagine standing in front a scale in your bathroom; you didn't take the time to exercise or eat right but before stepping on, you say a quick word to the scale asking it to read lower than the week before...

Many of us do the same thing on Sunday with the sacrament if we give no consideration to the mistakes we made through the week until we are presented with the sacrament.

Repentance should be more about change than asking for forgiveness.  If you are forgiven a hundred times over but never change you haven't accomplished anything.  If you change, and then are forgiven you have completed the process provided through the atonement by which we become celestial beings.

I believe that God forgives us every time we ask.  But are we taking that forgiveness in vain if we do so without making any effort towards change?

Alma 34:32
For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Carefully Down To Hell

If God is all powerful, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people?

The answer can be found in the fate of the Dodo Bird.  According to Wikipedia the Dodo lived in almost isolation on an island; eventually becoming flightless because of the ready availability of food and the absence of natural predators.  Without any challenge in obtaining food and no predator to fear, the Dodo became weak and clumsy.   When explorers arrived on the island, they brought with them animals of prey.  The Dodo had long since forgotten how to fly or defend itself and quickly went extinct.

This is exactly what would happen to us spiritually if we lived in a challenge free world.  Protection from all hardships would be a great dis-service and render us spiritually fat and easy prey for the adversary.  It is through progressive challenges in life that we find spiritual strength and by overcoming them we learn to spread our wings.

It is because God loves us that he allows the adversary to temp us and to try us.

2 Nephi 28:21 
And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that 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.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Perfection is not just an absence of sin

If perfection could be accomplished with just an absence of sin, we all could have accomplished it by simply not coming to Earth. 

2 Nephi 2:11 explains, "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.  If not so...righteousness could not be brought to pass..."  

There can be no perfection without active righteousness and that righteousness cannot be accomplished without opposition.

In truth, Satan could defeat the Plan of Salvation anytime by simply walking away; leaving the residents of the Earth with no opposition and thereby no choice between good and evil and no opportunity to live righteously by choice.  Satan came here vowing to destroy the Plan, but ironically his presence here creates the environment of "opposition" that makes the Plan possible.

A relevant example of the absolute necessity of opposition is the City of Enoch.  Why was the whole city removed from the Earth; rather than allowing it to be a shining example for us and a place we could all go to  get away from the world?  Perhaps the City of Enoch had to be removed because their accomplishment of perfection as a society would have adversely affected anyone who moved there because there were no temptations there anymore.  They defeated Satan.

If we lose the "opposition" we simultaneously lose the ability to be perfected.  Yet, even saturated as we are in Satan's influence, that alone must not be enough to accomplish our purpose here because the Lord tells us in Ether 12:6 that he has also given us individual weaknesses to overcome.

This life is an individual battle and who you become is all you get from this life.  Thus, Satan doesn't need to convert you to his side in order to win; he just needs to keep you distracted with worldly ideas long enough that you don't become who you have come here to become.  As Nephi put it, "others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that 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 Nephi 28:21).  A modern example of this could be believing in "faith without works." 

Quenten L. Cook said in the most recent conference that self control is like a muscle.  The more you use it the stronger it gets.  The opposite would also be true.

Self-control is the reason we are here.  Why else would we have bodies that are programmed to want things we are commanded not to participate in?  Why else would we be commanded to share what we have with the poor and needy when the Lord could irradiate their needs without our help?  Because works don't save us they change us.  You become a different person when you participate in this self-sacrificing activities.

It is a very simplistic definition, but we came here for the freedom and opportunity to choose between good and evil and perfection is accomplished when we get to a point where we always choose good.  

Jesus died to erase the mistakes we all make along that path of active individual perfection.  A person who is simply relieved of his/her sins, without the requirement of self-improvement, accomplishes no more than if he hadn't come to Earth at all.  We must strive to perfect ourselves through active discipleship, having our "garments washed white" each week  (Alma 13:11) through the atonement of Jesus Christ, until the day that we stand triumphant, like the occupants of the City of Enoch, and then we can return home as sons and daughters of God to inherit the kingdom of our Father (Mathew 25:34).

Moses 6:68
Behold, Thou are one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons. Amen.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Mediocrity Is Dangerous

All we take with us from this life are our experiences.  Who we are is a reflection of those experiences we have had.

We often talk about judgment day as if our lives will flash before our eyes and a tally will be made of the good and the bad things we did, culminating in some kind of point system that will decide if we ascend to heaven or descend into exile.

The parable of the Ten Virgins is closer to the truth.  The virgins who came late were rejected at the door by the Savior who said, “I know you not.”  The oil in this parable represents experience; which is why the virgins that had “oil” at the masters coming could not share with those who didn’t have any.  Spiritual experiences are how we come to know the Savior.

In the Pre-Existence (our life as spirit children before we came to Earth), we had learned as much as we could intellectually, without experiencing life in a mortal body.  Satan’s ill-conceived plan was for, “all [to] be safely conducted through the career of mortality, bereft of freedom to act and agency to choose…"  (Jesus The Christ)  In other words, Satan’s plan would not have afforded us the opportunity to have experiences; the very purpose for which we came to Earth. 

Mediocrity is as dangerous as apostasy. “…because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15) 

Life is the accumulation of the experiences we have.  If you are not having experiences, you are not having life.  This holds true of our spiritual life as well.

On that glorious day when we stand before our Savior for judgment, I believe that no words will be necessary.  We will either be like him, through a lifetime of spiritual experiences, or we won’t.

Moroni 7:48
…that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Undue Influance of Pop Culture


One of the most fascinating and relevant events to study in Church history is the creation of The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that was formed after Joseph Smith was martyred.  It is fascinating to study because at that moment in time, their newly reformed church had every resource of truth that we had.  They had the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, the Articles of Faith, experienced leaders of the Church and even the culture of the Church.  The RLDS church had everything...except authority.

Without authority there was no possibility of receiving revelation for the direction of their church.  Thus their doctrine moved whichever direction the winds of popular culture blew.  If you look up the RLDS church today (now call the Community of Christ), you will find precious little similarity between our church and theirs and almost no difference between their doctrine and that of other modern Christian churches (including the ordination of women to the priesthood); yet they claim to be the rightful and direct line from Joseph Smith.  Which begs the rhetorical question, why would Heavenly Father and Jesus make a personal appearance to start a church that would ultimately be no different than thousands of other churches already in existence?

The study of the RLDS church is relevant today because it profoundly illustrates how revelation is an anchor that prevents pop culture from "tossing [the church] to and fro...with every wind of doctrine." (Eph 4:14)  Joseph Smith was instructed in the First Vision not to join any of the other churches.  If we allow pop culture to erase the differences between the restored church and pop culture churches; wouldn't that also violate the Lord's instruction not to "join" other churches by becoming just like them?


The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [1946], 212–13:
I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.





Sunday, April 13, 2014

Redefining Marriage

The following post is my personal opinion and does not reflect any official statements from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

When I was on my mission in Hungary, I saw many breath taking castles.  I marveled at the sheer number of these massive structures, all built strategically on  hill tops or with high walls and strong doors; making them impenetrable to outside forces.  A direct attack on such a fortress would have been futile; yet, each of them now stands abandoned and crumbling.


The question of how defeat found its way into these unyielding  fortresses, foreshadows eerily the current attack on marriage and the family.

Marriage is also a castle.  The adversary has no greater objective in this life than to destroy the fortress that houses the family unit.  But he has no intention of trying a direct frontal assault on marriage because the "baby boomer" generation clings to a solid understanding of marriage and its importance; spiritually as well as in society.  The way you defeat a castle, is to convince the next generation not to live there.  So, he marginalizes marriage with immorality and redefines it in the eyes of the next generation. Then he waits patiently while generations "X, Y and Z" abandon it into extinction.

In September 2013 Steve Young's wife spoke as an advocate at a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community event.  She said to them, "One of the most beautiful things about this church is that it can evolve.  It may not go as fast as everyone wants, but it is evolving."

The way you can recognize someone that does not understand this issue as it relates to our religion is that they think we are just waiting for an outdated church leadership to come into the now.

Set aside the cataclysmic consequences to society and only consider this issue from a spiritual perspective.  The reality of such a change would mean that we would have to dismantle the temples and discontinue our belief in eternal marriages. 

Our existence here is a similitude or foreshadowing of the lives that will come in the eternities.  A dry run.  A chance to show that we can be endowed with greater power in the next life because we learned to control the power we have on loan in this life.  Specifically to this topic, the power of pro-creation here will become the power of creation in the next life.

The scientific definition of life states that in order to classify something as a living thing it must be able to reproduce.  The Liger (a mix between a Lion and a Tiger) is a perfect example.  It is a beautiful creature but will never be classified as a species because two Ligers cannot mate and make a baby Liger.  Its not a matter of belief, its a law of nature.

Temple marriage is not just a ceremony or a commitment, the sealing power creates a living bond for time and all eternity; worlds without end in the next life.

Simple logic then dictates that a same-sex temple marriage would be an eternal prison sentence; condemning the couple to spend the rest of eternity unable to participate in the greatest and only joy there is in eternity: creation of life.

Those who wait for church doctrine regarding marriage to change, do so in vain.  None the less; traditional marriage will be increasingly seen as a crumbling and outdated castle in the eyes of the forthcoming generations, including some who are members of the Church.  Once marriage is officially redefined at the state houses, our eternal temple marriages will be seen as prejudicial and out dated and temples will become the new focus of this movement in an attempt to force us to perform same-sex eternal marriages.

1 Corinthians 2:14
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Who Is Right?

I took this picture on Sunday (3/23/2014) in Paradise, CA.  If you take out the bottom line announcing the "Pre-school and Daycare" services, you'll find a profound truth not often acknowledged by other churches:  Everyone cannot be right.


This photograph is a landmark because traditional Christians have held that it doesn't matter which church you belong to because, "All paths lead to heaven."

In fact, truth does exist which means wrong also exists.   The question is, how can you tell the difference?

I was visiting a Sabbath school a few months ago with a friend of mine from the Toastmasters Club.  A younger gentleman, probably for my benefit, made the comment that he couldn't understand why everyone didn't see the pure logic of their faith.  I was intrigued by this comment because I had been sitting there literally pondering how illogical what they were talking about sounded to me.

When we discuss or discover a spiritual topic we will feel the truth of it by the power of the Holy Ghost.  It is a mistake to try and identify truth through human logic or reason.

Peter lived in the presence of Jesus himself.  Yet, in Matthew chapter 16 when Peter identified Jesus as the Savior, Jesus responded, "...flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee..."

There is only one way to identify the true gospel of Jesus Christ...

Moroni 10:4-5
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true...and by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.