Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prayer of the Walking Child

My brother sang this song in church last week to celebrate Pioneer day. You can hear a portion of the tune here. (click on Prayer of the walking child).

Can you hear me
Will you listen to me for a while
Please, can you make the day warm
The sun will dry the dewy grass
And all will be well

And Father
Make my steps a little larger
I’ll try not to fall behind
Also bless my shoes
To help them last another mile or so

I’m so hungry
I’ve had nothing to eat for a while
Please, can you fill our grain barrel
Mother can make a flour cake
And all will be well

But Father
When the food is gone, forgive me
I’ll try hard not to complain
Also, bless my mother
Dry her tears and help her smile again

I’m so weary
Can I stop and rest here for a while
Please keep the cold from blowing
Bring on the night, so I can dream
And all will be well

But Father
If I sleep too long, forgive me
Wake me up, don’t leave me behind
But, if sleep still keeps me
Father in your arms please carry me home

And all will be well
All will be well
All is well

Mormon Pioneers

Art work from

I couldn't make a religious blog about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints without mentioning the pioneers whose faith was the foundation of generations of Mormons to come. On July 24th, the State of Utah celebrates Pioneer day. For those of us who are multi-generation Mormon, this is a very important holiday. This celebration gives us all an opportunity to stop and remember the sacrifices our ancestors made, and a also gives us a chance to honor them.

I would like to tell you about some of my pioneer ancestors. On my mother's side alone, 22 ancestors came across the plains. That may seem far removed from me, but the same values those ancestors cherished have been passed down from one generation to the next. We often use the term "dyed in the wool" to describe our church ancestry, and with good reason.

One of my grandmothers (I think a great, great) had her way paid to ride on a wagon all the way to Utah. But as she prepared to leave, she learned of an older woman who was sick who planned to walk with a handcart. She felt compassion for the woman, so gave to the woman her seat on the wagon, and pulled a handcart to Utah instead. She was young, and knew she had a better chance of making it than the sickly woman.

Another story is of a grandmother who brought her three children alone across the plains with a handcart. Her oldest was about 7, and the next child was about 3 years old. She also had a baby. As they walked along, the 7 year old would take care of the 3 year old. Occasionally, the three year old would get sleepy, and would go off the trail and take a nap. The 7 year old would stay with him to keep watch. Their mother would continue on with the rest of the company and make camp in the evening. Then she would hike back, sometimes many, many miles, to find her other two children. Then they would walk the many miles in to camp and sleep for the night.

When my great, great grandfather arrived in the valley, he did not have a wife, so the leaders of the church recommended he marry a Danish woman who had also crossed the plains, but did not have a husband. He didn't speak any Danish, and she didn't speak any English, but they agreed to marry each other. Years later they were asked how they were able to get along despite the language barrier. They said they used alot of grunting and pointing. :)

One thing I have learned from my pioneer ancestry is that you don't have to have lived back in their time to be a pioneer. We, today, can lead out in pioneering in whatever state of life we might find ourselves. What pioneering takes is courage and faith in the Savior.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Book of Mormon Sampler July 27, 2008

I decided I would like to start a new feature on this blog called "Book of Mormon Sampler". Here I will occasionally post favorite Book of Mormon scriptures for you to peruse. The advantage to this is that I have read the Book of Mormon many times, so I know some of the particularly choice passages (atleast they are choice to me). It's sort of like getting a book review I guess, but I thought this might give you an idea for what kinds of things the Book of Mormon has to offer. I'm not sure why I chose this first scripture other than that it has been on my mind. And so today, I give you the first scripture sampler:

"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot."
" Moroni 10:32,33

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Finding Faith in Christ

I'm going to be on vacation for a week, but I thought I would post the link for this online video for you to watch while I'm gone. The title is "Finding Faith in Christ", and shows many exerpts from the Savior's life. If you enjoy the video, you can request a free copy of your own. Click HERE to watch the video. Note: it takes a few seconds for the video to start, so you might have to wait just a moment. I hope you enjoy the video.

Click HERE to request a free copy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why Prophets?

This post is to help partially answer the same question that was answered in my last one about the Book of Mormon. I wanted to explain more in detail why we need Prophets. I think in recent years in our modern civilization, the term "Prophet" has received a bad connotation, but in ancient days, Prophets were revered.

--The Prophet receives revelation for the church as a whole. Another term for this is "Seer". We believe that individuals can receive revelation for their own lives, but you can imagine the chaos if any church member received revelation to guide the church. Each person receives revelation, or inspiration for their sphere of responsibility and authority. Just as the prophet Moses led the children of Israel, the prophet today receives revelation about what direction the church as a whole should go. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7)

--The Prophet receives scripture for the church. Once again, you can imagine the chaos if every member were allowed to add scripture. In modern day scripture we are told, "Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion." (Doctrine and Covenants 132:8)

--Prophets testify of Jesus Christ.
"18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.
19 ¶ Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" Acts 3:18-21

---Prophets act as "watchmen on the tower" to raise a warning voice about danger that is coming. Many times our prophets have warned us of things that would be dangerous for us. For example, Joseph Smith recieved the revelation known as the "Word of Wisdom". It counseled us not to drink alcohol, tea, or coffee, and to not use tobacco. This was given many years before it was known the dangerous effects of these substances. While tea and coffee are generally not thought to be as harmful to the body as alcohol and tobacco, still physicians will agree that we are better off without them.

The Bible dictionary had this to say about prophets: "The work of a Hebrew prophet was to act as God's messenger and make known God's will. The message was usually prefaced with the words "Thus saith Jehovah." He taught men about God's character, showing the full meaning of his dealings with Israel in the past. It was therefore part of the prophetic office to preserve and edit the records of the nation's history; and such historical books as Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Sam., 1 and 2 Kings were known by the Jews as the former Prophets. It was also the prophet's duty to denounce sin and foretell its punishment, and to redress, so far as he could, both public and private wrongs. He was to be, above all, a preacher of righteousness. When the people had fallen away from a true faith in Jehovah, the prophets had to try to restore that faith and remove false views about the character of God and the nature of the Divine requirement. In certain cases prophets predicted future events, e.g., there are the very important prophecies announcing the coming of Messiah's kingdom; but as a rule prophet was a forthteller rather than a foreteller. In a general sense a prophet is anyone who has a testimony of Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost, as in Num. 11: 25-29; Rev. 19: 10." (Bible Dictionary..."prophet")

Monday, July 14, 2008

Teachings of the Book of Mormon

I was asked what the Book of Mormon gives to us that is important in the plan of salvation that can't be found in the Bible. Here is a list of some of what the Book of Mormon has to offer, although it is by no means a complete list.

--Teaches the importance of repentance in the plan of salvation

--In general, makes clear teachings in the Bible about which many religions disagree.

--Stands as a second witness with the testimonies in the Bible that Jesus is the Christ, and that He resurrected from the dead. "This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." 2 Corinthians 13:1

--Describes the purpose and meaning of the atonement in greater detail. Dallin H. Oaks taught, "For example, the word atonement appears only once in the entire New Testament but twenty-eight times in the text of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is clearly the most profound treatment of this supremely important subject found anywhere " Dallin H. Oaks, "'Another Testament of Jesus Christ'," Ensign, Mar 1994, 60

--Describes the resurrection, judgement, and our life after death in greater detail.

--Makes clear that infant baptism is not necessary. Because of the atonement of Christ, little children are saved if they die before the age of accountability

--Teaches the proper method of baptism

--Teaches of the blessing and cursing that was put upon this land (the American continent) which are that as long as the inhabitants serve God, they will be blessed and will prosper in the land. But if they do not serve God, they will lose these blessings.

--Gives greater understanding to the words of Isaiah

--Gives us examples of the cycle of pride to help us to learn to avoid this cycle.

--Teaches of our life before this Earth life

--It was written for our day, to convince us to come unto Christ and to obey His commandments.

--Teaches more about the sacrament.

--Why death is necessary

--The workings of the evil one, and how to combat temptation.

--Teaches about the order of the priesthood

--How to distinguish between good and evil

--The true nature of God

--How to retain a remission of your sins

--It restores main "plain and precious" things that were lost from the Bible during its compilation

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Protect Marriage

Here is a website in support of traditional marriage. I hope you will check it out and support this ammendment when it goes on the ballot. Click here for the website.

Combatting Spiritual Drift—

Russell M. Nelson, “Combatting Spiritual Drift—Our Global Pandemic,” Ensign, Nov 1993, 102–8

This address was given at the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago, Illinois, 2 September 1993.

Dear colleagues and friends, it is a privilege for me to represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at this historic parliament. I pay tribute to those who have organized it and to all who have participated.

Prior to my call to full-time service as a Church leader, I worked as a medical doctor specializing in the teaching, research, and practice of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. I performed about seven thousand operations. During nearly four decades as a student of medical sciences, I learned to distinguish between the physical and spiritual components of the human soul. A patient could be physically weak but spiritually strong, and vice versa. For example, on many occasions I watched the critically ill mobilize great spiritual strength in order to undergo a high-risk operation to correct a physical problem within the heart. In contrast, I saw individuals without physical abnormality who were seriously ill because of spiritual loss of heart.

Duties have taken me to approximately one hundred nations of the earth, where I have observed the physical and spiritual dualism of life on a broader scale. There I have noted examples of the same physical and spiritual disparity that I previously encountered in my profession. I have observed that if a great physical disaster should strike, such as a devastating earthquake or flood, people are motivated spiritually by an uncommon desire to help one another. After the great earthquake in Armenia in December 1988, for example, I saw spontaneous outpourings of help from all over the world. Donors from many nations contributed aid to hundreds of thousands of homeless victims. Generosity seemed to transcend political or racial differences.

Fortunately, such major disasters are rare. But unfortunately, when normal life resumes, the pendulum seems to swing from spiritual vitality to laxity. It is ironic that as affluence and physical comforts increase, spiritual strength declines. This observation has prompted the title for my message: “Combatting Spiritual Drift—Our Global Pandemic.” Reversing this crisis in the health of the human spirit is an enormous challenge.

Changes Since the Last Parliament of the World’s Religions
In the century that has elapsed since the last meeting of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, there have been notable advances in virtually every field of human endeavor. Think of the progress made in transportation, communication, commerce, agriculture, medicine, science, and electronics.

But spiritual progress has lagged behind. We see evidences of increasing ethnic strife and hatred. Nationalism seems to be taking priority over brotherly love. Violence and civil wars are raging. Divorce and diminishing regard for the sanctity of human life have eroded the strength of the family—the basic unit of society. Immorality, infidelity, and promiscuity—once shunned—are now tolerated and even condoned. We have witnessed the insidious intrusion of pornography, with its attendant denigration of the human soul. And gambling, which preys upon the poor and the compulsive, has crept from the realm of the illegal into the arena of governmental sponsorship.

Religion’s Role in the Past Century
We may well ask, “What has been the role of religion during this past century?” The lofty objectives and high ideals promoted by the religions of the world are truly commendable. Much good has been done. We should all feel a deep sense of gratitude for noble predecessors in every faith group.

At the same time, we should be objective enough to analyze past activity and note any efforts that might have been inadequate, misdirected, or even counterproductive. For instance, worldly trends may have been assimilated into some religious ideology. On occasion, there may have been misguided incursions of religion into the political arena. And in spite of the exemplary behavior of the majority of our religious leaders and members, inappropriate conduct by any individual identified with a specific religious movement tends to tarnish the image of all. Sadly, we have also witnessed instances of interfaith contention, maligning, and intolerance.

Moreover, honest people searching for answers to life’s greatest questions may have turned to religion, asking, “Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?” Some may have come away unsatisfied.

Given these realities, religion must shoulder greater responsibility in healing the spiritual sickness that engulfs our globe.

The Role of Religion in the Future
The dismal dusk of today’s spiritual drift provides a rare opportunity for the radiance of religion to light the way to a new tomorrow. This can happen only as we proclaim eternal truths that have the power to engender spiritual strength. Human nature cannot be changed by reforming public policy; that kind of change comes by exposing the human mind and heart to the transforming teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have learned that when we teach His correct principles, people govern themselves appropriately.

We at this world parliament represent many religious persuasions. Because there is much that is praiseworthy in each of our faiths, it is important for us to maintain the integrity of our religious institutions and to preserve tolerance of each other’s sacred beliefs. These factors are essential to the strength of a pluralistic society. Tolerance and understanding are enhanced as we teach clearly and courteously the tenets of our religions.

In that spirit, and as done so well by previous speakers, I would like to speak of the organization I represent. I would like to speak of the institution and of the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes known as the “Mormon” church. That is not its correct name, as many of you may know; it is only a nickname—derived from our belief in the Book of Mormon, to which I will refer later.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Institutional Background

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has endured much persecution, oppression, and hardship. From these experiences has come our genuine passion for tolerance and a sincere appreciation for feelings held sacred by others. Early members of this church were some of the great pioneers in the development of the United States of America. All eight of my great-grandparents, for example, were early converts to this church from populous nations of Europe. All eight of them immigrated to the U.S.A. and became part of the nineteenth century’s historic trailblazing trek westward.

Now the Church has a worldwide membership in excess of eight million people. Although its world headquarters are located in Salt Lake City, Utah, its congregations flourish throughout the world in approximately one hundred fifty nations on six continents and upon many islands of the sea.

Ours is a lay ministry. For example, I previously served as general president of the Sunday School of the Church for eight years, while continuing my professional work as a cardiovascular surgeon. Our religious activities throughout the world are led by male and female volunteers. We believe that everyone can be happy because everyone can serve. Congregations in Germany are led by Germans, in Peru by Peruvians, in Japan by Japanese, and so on. Government by consent of the governed is a rule of the Church.


Members of the Church in biblical times were addressed as saints. Likewise, members of the Church today are known as Latter-day Saints, often abbreviated as “LDS.” We regard a saint as a believer in Christ, one who knows of His perfect love and who strives to live in accord with His commandments. The term connotes a high level of commitment to following the Savior.

Articles of Faith

A summary of the tenets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long been known as the Articles of Faith. 1 Copies are available for any who are interested. I will quote liberally from this statement in discussing the doctrines of our church.


First, “we believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” (A of F 1:1). We worship our Heavenly Father and pray to Him in the name of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Ghost. We revere the Son of God as our Savior, our Redeemer, and our Master. He came into the world to do the will of His Father (see 3 Ne. 27:13). He died for us and was resurrected from the tomb. His triumph over death brings the blessings of resurrection and immortality to all mankind (see 1 Cor. 15:20–22). Our adoration for Him is typified in this passage from the Book of Mormon:

“We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, … that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Ne. 25:26).

Nothing in human history equals the wonder, the magnitude, or the fruits of the matchless life of the Son of God. He is our exemplar and the author of our faith. And one day He will again come to the earth to begin His promised millennial reign.


We also believe in prophets. God has always taught His children upon the earth through prophets. In ancient times, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and many others were among those chosen by God as His prophets. Likewise, we believe that Joseph Smith was called by God as the prophet to inaugurate this present era, known as “the dispensation of the fulness of times” (see Eph. 1:10; D&C 112:30; D&C 121:31; D&C 124:41; D&C 128:18, 20; D&C 138:48). He was called and chosen to bring together all former “dispensations, and keys, and powers … from the days of Adam even to the present time” (D&C 128:18). Previous dispensations include those identified with Adam, with Noah, with Moses, and with Jesus and His Apostles in the meridian of time.


This modern dispensation of which I speak fulfills the biblical promise of a “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21; see also Rev. 14:6, 7). It also fulfills another scriptural promise that “the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word” (Alma 29:8). We believe in the restitution of the same organization that once existed in the early Christian Church, with Apostles, prophets, and teachers (see A of F 1:6). Our origins did not spring from protest of any kind; hence, we are not a Protestant denomination. Rather, we understand that the church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth, established, as the Apostle Paul once declared, “upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).

God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, literally appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith in April 1820. While this may be relatively unknown in the annals of history, yet it constituted an epochal event in the history of humanity—a profound demonstration of the love of God for all of His children. Because this milestone is of such importance, I would like to quote excerpts from the Prophet’s written account:

“I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” JS—H 1:17).

Joseph Smith encountered intense persecution after this experience had become public knowledge. He wrote:

“I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while [abusers] were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation” (JS—H 1:25).

We regard that theophany—which we designate as the First Vision—and subsequent communications of heavenly beings with the Prophet Joseph Smith to be as real as my conversation with you now. These and other visitations relating to the promised restitution of the Church are well documented.

For his singular service as the prophet called to inaugurate this dispensation, Joseph Smith gave his life as a martyr at the young age of thirty-eight years. As we honor prophets of former days, so we honor the Prophet Joseph Smith. May I quote from an account written shortly after his martyrdom in 1844, penned by one of his contemporaries:

“In the short space of twenty years, he [the Prophet Joseph Smith] has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood” (D&C 135:3).

The Standard Works

We regard the Book of Mormon as companion scripture to the Holy Bible (see A of F 1:8). While the Bible bears record of teachings the Lord gave to His prophets who lived in the Old World, the Book of Mormon contains teachings the Lord gave to His prophets who lived in the American hemisphere. This record covers a period of about a thousand years, from approximately 600 b.c. to a.d. 400 (although there is reference to other migrations and peoples preceding that time). The Book of Mormon bears record of the personal ministry of Jesus Christ, as the resurrected Lord, to inhabitants of ancient America. Prophets recorded His teachings among them. Hence, the Book of Mormon is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” (Book of Mormon Title Page). It came in fulfillment of biblical prophecy: “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor. 13:1). It came as a heavenly gift to the entire human family. Originally inscribed on metallic plates and written in a modified Egyptian language, that record was preserved for many centuries, then made available for translation into the English language. That translation was done by the Prophet Joseph Smith through the gift and power of God. Subsequently, the book has been translated into many other languages. Since its first publication in 1830, millions of copies of the Book of Mormon have been printed. In the year 1992 alone, nearly five million copies were distributed.

We have observed that sincere study of the Book of Mormon transforms the spirit and engenders a testimony of Jesus Christ that heals the spiritual hearts of men and women throughout the world. The more widely it is read and understood, the greater is its influence for good. We find that as the Book of Mormon spreads to the four corners of the globe, men and women exhibit greater devotion and become promulgators of peace within their own families and society.

Other divine revelations to prophets, ancient and modern, have been canonized into additional scriptures—books known as the Doctrine and Covenants and as the Pearl of Great Price. Thus, we believe the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price to be four standard works of sacred scripture.

These books of revelation, recorded by prophets from age to age, provide broad eternal perspective and clarify the purpose of man’s existence. These scriptures teach that all of us lived as spirit children of God before we came into this life. We came to earth to obtain a body, to gain earthly experiences, and to prove our faith as we confront life’s many challenges. And because there are differences in degree of obedience to God’s eternal laws, there will be different gradations, or degrees of glory, in our eternal destinies. Jesus taught that “in my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you” (John 14:2; see also 1 Cor. 15:40–41; D&C 76:70–98; D&C 98:18).

This plan of salvation reveals the supernal potential that each of us has as a unique son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. It is literally possible for each of us to return to His presence, to become heir to all that He has in store for the faithful. This plan informs us where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. We cherish this knowledge and are grateful for the joyful satisfaction it produces.

Restoration of Priesthood Authority

We believe that our priesthood leaders are ordained by authority restored by heavenly messengers in these latter days and that leaders may receive direct inspiration and revelation (see A of F 1:5, 7, 9). Both a lesser priesthood—such as was operative in the days of Moses—and a greater priesthood—such as was operative in the days of Jesus and the Apostles—have been restored, along with many additional specific priesthood offices and keys. During His mortal ministry, Jesus “chose twelve, whom also he named apostles” (Luke 6:13). That holy apostleship has been restored. Living Apostles again bear witness of the name of Christ to all the world. Restoration of all priesthood offices and keys has been accomplished under the direction of the Lord by heavenly messengers, including John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Moses, Elias, Elijah, Moroni, and others. Priesthood power extends beyond life through the veil of death into the eternities.

The Apostle Paul once wrote concerning the priesthood: “No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Heb. 5:4). As in former days, it is again conferred by ordination, by the laying on of hands by those in authority. The influence of the priesthood is controlled according to conditions established by the Lord, who said:

“The rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and … the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

“That they may be conferred upon [men] it is true; but when [they] undertake to cover [their] sins, or to gratify [their] pride, [their] vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, … the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man …

“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

“By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile” (D&C 121:36–37, 41–42).

This priesthood authority has divine power to confer sacred ordinances that are binding for all eternity. To illustrate, a husband and wife may be eternally married so that even after death, they and their family can be together forever in the presence of Deity. This enabling ordinance is performed in our holy temples. Furthermore, these and other necessary ordinances of salvation, such as baptism, may be performed by living individuals as proxy for deceased family members.

Hence, as part of our religious responsibility, we identify our ancestors, for as the Apostle Paul said to the Hebrew Saints, “they without us should not be made perfect” (Heb. 11:40). For this purpose, Church family history (genealogical) libraries dot the earth; they are patronized extensively and without fee, both by members of our Church and by those who may have other religious affiliation.

Welfare and Humanitarian Assistance

Members of this church practice principles of Christian living by assisting some of the homeless, the hungry, and the needy throughout the world. We strive to practice the admonition of James: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27).

Once a month, if members are physically able and desirous of doing so, they voluntarily go without food for two meals and contribute, as a fast offering, the money that would have been spent. These funds are then used to assist the poor and the needy as determined by leaders of local congregations. Contributions in excess of local need are pooled and made available for aid elsewhere. In addition, our members electively donate millions of hours of compassionate service each year.

During 1992, for example, voluntary humanitarian donations enabled the Church to help care for the poor through more than three hundred fifty projects in Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States of America. This help was in the form of food, clothing, shelter, textbooks, medical supplies, volunteer labor, and skilled advisers. In these and other activities, the Church has participated with more than two hundred private volunteer organizations, other churches, and community agencies such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Catholic Relief Services, Food for the Poor, and the Salvation Army, to name but a few.

Most recently, in response to the devastating drought in Eastern Africa, the Church provided approximately $1 million worth of powdered milk, oil, flour, beans, and clothing to help care for expectant or nursing mothers, young children, and others. Twenty thousand pounds of medical equipment were sent to Albania, where modern medical care is urgently needed. Hundreds of hygiene kits and essential clothing were sent to Croatia to assist the suffering people in that war-torn country.

Each of these humanitarian endeavors is an application of the biblical command “Love thy neighbour as thyself” (Lev. 19:18; see also Luke 10:27).

Individual Application

As we repent and live in accordance with the commandments of God, the Atonement of Jesus Christ becomes a force for permanent change in our lives. We become more pure in heart and true disciples of the Master. Personal prayer, contributions of tithes and offerings, honoring the Sabbath day, and partaking of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper are all regular practices that protect us from the bondage of sin and bring us true freedom and joy.

The daily practice of our faith is not confined solely to religious rites. We reach out to aid the communities in which we live. For example, parent-teacher associations, public schools, and similar worthy civic activities receive our support.

We value good teachers. We affirm the scriptural admonition, “Teach ye diligently … that you may be instructed more perfectly” (D&C 88:78). We assert that “the glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36), and we seek wisdom out of the best books (see D&C 88:118; D&C 109:7, 14). We regard one’s education as a religious responsibility with everlasting reward. Scriptures state that “whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (D&C 130:18–19).

We neither endorse games of chance nor rely on random favor. Scripture attests that predictable results come only from obedience to divine law:

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:20–21).

As a cardiac surgeon, I can certify that this understanding helped me a great deal. In the operating room, hopes were never enough. I knew that I must remain there and perform with precision all that was required to put things into proper order. Only then could the desired blessings of healing and health be expected to follow.

Personal Refinement

We know that alcoholic beverages and tobacco are not good for human beings. Our understanding came by way of divine revelation recorded more than a century and a half ago in the year 1833. Moreover, we teach that stimulants and other harmful substances are contrary to the will of God for our bodies. Scientific studies document the benefits of obedience to this code of health. Research from the University of California at Los Angeles published in 1989, for example, demonstrated that the length of life of faithful members of this church was significantly longer than the norm. Latter-day Saint men and women were reported to have lower mortality rates from cancer and heart disease when compared with control population groups. 2

Such data are of interest because we maintain, as did the Apostle Paul, that our bodies are temples for our spirits, divinely created by our loving Father in Heaven (see 1 Cor. 3:16–17).

We also believe in “being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men … If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things” (A of F 1:13). As a result, we cherish happy and wholesome relationships with our families and others wherever we live. We honor the family as the basis of a virtuous, moral life.

Missionary Service

Because these doctrines are so ennobling and fulfilling, we have a genuine desire to share the good news of the gospel with others (see Prov. 25:25). We have many missionaries who serve at the call of their Church leaders. They go wherever called to live and labor among the people. Most of our missionaries are young men and women who serve for one and a half to two years, and do so without financial remuneration, supporting their service from personal savings and contributions from family members and loved ones.

Our missionaries are now teaching the gospel throughout the world in sixty-nine languages. When released, they return home to resume their education and the normal pursuits of life. But they also continue as advocates of the people whose culture, language, and ways they have come to love. They serve because the Lord issued a commandment: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19; see also Mark 16:15). On another occasion, the Master stated: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” John 3:5). We comply by performing baptisms by immersion and then conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost by the imposition of hands by those duly authorized. Thus, our missionary efforts are responses to divine decrees.

Upholding the Law

“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (A of F 1:12). We encourage our members to be upright and loyal citizens in the countries that give them citizenship and to uphold governmental leaders and obey the civil laws wherever they live.

We hold to a single standard of morality. Both men and women are required to observe the law of chastity. The commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery” applies to all. Promiscuity and all extramarital sexual relationships are sinful in the sight of God, and members of the Church who engage in such practices are subject to disciplinary measures.

Summary Statements

Before proceeding further, it might be helpful to pause for a brief synopsis of this discussion of doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. May I offer ten summary statements. (I apologize that time won’t allow for a more comprehensive list.) We believe:

1. In God the Eternal Father and in His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

2. Prophets lived in days of the Old Testament, and they again live in modern times. Joseph Smith was the prophet chosen to lead this present era—the dispensation of the fulness of times.

3. Sacred scriptures include the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

4. Priesthood authority has been restored to the earth.

5. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind may be saved. Repentance and obedience to His commandments are vital to personal progress.

6. The Savior’s command to go into all the world and preach the gospel unto every creature constitutes the commission for our missionary work.

7. The greatest blessings available in this life may be obtained through ordinances performed in holy temples. Marriages solemnized by the authority therein unite couples and their children not only for this life but for all eternity as well.

8. Care of the poor and the needy and service to others are privileges and religious responsibilities.

9. Each individual existed as a premortal spirit and will live after death as a resurrected being. The possibility of eternal glory with our loved ones in the presence of Deity inspires obedience to God’s commandments.

10. The purpose of our creation is that we might have eternal joy, both as individuals and as families.

While implementing these and other important precepts, the Church is tolerant of all faith groups, claiming for itself no right or privilege that it would deny to others. It affirms itself to be Christ’s church of old, reestablished anew. Its message to the world is one of peace and goodwill, with a sincere invitation to come and partake of all the blessings incident to the new and everlasting covenant between God and His children.

Interfaith Cooperation
Moving now from the distinctive doctrines and tenets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I would like to discuss areas in which faith groups may cooperate. Members of our church often join with other like-minded citizens, regardless of religious persuasion, in support of worthy causes and humanitarian projects. This can be done without losing independent identity and strength. We are mindful of history’s lesson that attempts of interfaith groups to unify through theological blending have not always been successful. Indeed, when divine doctrines are compromised to accommodate social pressures, religious institutions become no more relevant in their mission than other agencies of good intent. At the same time, we should be models of tolerance of others whose sacred beliefs may differ from our own. We recognize that if one religion is persecuted, all are attacked.

We need to safeguard the proper relationships of religion to governments and to the people we serve. We are under obligation to take a strong stand on moral issues in order to preserve a wholesome and ethical environment. As religious leaders, our participation in the political process may be needed to protect precious religious liberty. This is particularly important in countries of the earth whose citizens, until recently, have been deprived of freedom of religious expression and practice. Many of those nations are now shaping laws to allow freedoms that citizens of other countries have long enjoyed. These developing democracies deserve support.

Selected humanitarian projects can be pursued independently or cooperatively. We can promote education regarding moral values, the arts, service to humanity, and the value of education itself. We can give encouragement for family life, knowing that patience, righteousness, and love will be rewarded with joy.

Returning to the medical metaphor with which I began, I firmly feel that the people of this world can be healed as we do our best in combatting spiritual drift—our global pandemic. Healing requires a concurrent development of the will to live, the faith to become well, and the motivation to improve our world for future generations.

May I conclude on a personal note. My expressions represent more than mere belief. I know from personal experience that God can and does communicate with individuals. Through that personal revelation, one may surely know that God lives, that His Beloved Son, Jesus, is the Christ, and that the doctrines I have discussed which are pertinent to man’s salvation and eternal progress are true. Similar strong convictions in the hearts of millions of individual members comprise the real vitality of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After this exposure to the roots of our faith, you deserve to experience some of the good fruits by which you shall also know us. So I have asked several children from the Chicago area, all members of our church, to sing to you. The title of their song is “I Am a Child of God.” As they acknowledge the Fatherhood of God, they also demonstrate the brotherhood of all mankind. Their song will comprise the concluding portion of my presentation. Together we echo a statement previously published by the First Presidency of our church:

“Our message is one of special love and concern for the eternal welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are the sons and daughters of the same eternal Father.” 3

To each of you I express heartfelt appreciation along with sincere wishes for your success in all of your worthy endeavors. May God bless you and your loved ones and sustain our mutual quest for spiritual strength, goodwill, and peace on earth, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1. The Articles of Faith were here printed in their entirety in Elder Nelson’s manuscript, which was available to those attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

2. Enstrom, J. E., “Health Practices and Cancer Mortality Among Active California Mormons,” The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 81 (6 Dec. 1989): 1807–15.

3. Statement of the First Presidency, 15 Feb. 1978.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Additional Scripture?

Most Christian religions believe that there is no scripture outside of the Bible. However, most religious scholars will agree that many books of scripture were lost during the compilation of the Bible. In our religion, we believe that the Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. But we also believe that additional scripture could be found. We also believe that further revelation may come, and it should be included in modern day scripture.

Let's imagine that diggers at an archaeological site found additional writings of Paul. Would we immediately discount them simply because they weren't originally included in the compilation of the Bible? Why should we be afraid of truth? If it is scripture, then let it be. If it isn't, then we can discount it. But simply closing our eyes and refusing to read it, simply because it wasn't included in the original Bible, does not help us to be seekers of truth. Now let's imagine that we can't verify that Paul was indeed the writer. Do we wholely reject the writings? Or can we study them with the intent to see if there could be truth in them? We should never be afraid of truth, but should press forward relying upon the guidance of the Holy Ghost to help us to discern truth from error. A scripture in the Book of Mormon teaches more about this idea:

"6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them." Moroni 10:6-8

In our religion we have additional scripture. We embrace the Bible as the word of God. We study it, we love it, we revere it. But we do not believe that God has closed His mouth. We have the Book of Mormon which we believe is scripture that came from those who lived in the ancient Americas. We believe that after Christ arose from the dead, that He visited these people in the Americas, and gave them His Gospel. The Book of Mormon contains a very important promise. It says,

"3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
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.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." Moroni 10:3-5

I would encourage you to follow this promise. Do not discount the Book of Mormon simply because it wasn't included in the Bible. Do as it's writers ask and read it with pure intent, having faith in Christ that He will guide you to know if it is true. You can read it online by clicking here or you can click here to find information about how you can get a free copy.

I hope that you will study it with the intent to know if it is true. Those who read it with the intent to "prove it wrong" are not those who are honest seekers of truth. The Holy Ghost will help those who are humble, and who ask God for help in discerning.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Articles of Our Faith

I thought I had posted these before, but in looking over my past posts, couldn't find them. These are the articles of our faith. This was written by Joseph Smith when asked by a newspaper to detail what we believe.

1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Joseph Smith

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Oh Say, What is Truth?

I keep thinking of this hymn lately, and thought I would share the text here.

1. Oh say, what is truth? ’Tis the fairest gem
That the riches of worlds can produce,
And priceless the value of truth will be when
The proud monarch’s costliest diadem
Is counted but dross and refuse.

2. Yes, say, what is truth? ’Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire.
Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,
Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:
’Tis an aim for the noblest desire.

3. The sceptre may fall from the despot’s grasp
When with winds of stern justice he copes.
But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast
And the wreck of the fell tyrant’s hopes.

4. Then say, what is truth? ’Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o’er.
Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

Text: John Jaques, 1827–1900

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Quotes From the Prophets About Education

When I was visiting BYU last week, I found some great quotes that I wanted to share here.

..We ought to foster educationand intelligence of every kind, cultivate literary tastes, and men of literary and scientific talent should improve that talent; and all should magnify the gifts which God has given unto them...If there is anything good and praiseworthy in morals, religion, science, or anything calculated to exalt and ennoble man, we are after it. But with all our getting, we want to get understanding, and that understanding which flows from God.


The mere stuffing of the mind with a knowledge of facts is not education. The mind must not only possess a knowledge of the truth, but the soul must revere it, cherish it, love it as a priceless gem; and this human life must be guided and shaped by it in order to fulfill its destiny. The mind should not only be charged with intelligence, but the soul should be filled with admiration and desire for pure intelligence which comes of a knowledge of the truth. The truth can only make him free who hath it and will continue in it. And the word of God is truth, and it will endure forever.


I want to say that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts all that is true in the world from whatever source it may come, with the knowledge that it originated with the greatest of all scientists, our Father in Heaven.
And so I congratulate the students of this great institution [BYU]to think that you have all advantages that the people of the world have, plus the advantages of faith in God, a belief in the power of our Heavenly Father and His inspiration....


But gaining knowledge is one thing, and applying it [is[ quite another. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge, and true education--the education for which the Church stands--is the application of knowledge to the development of a noble and Godlike character.


We are sending you out as artists, scientists, teachers, and philosophers. Will you never forget the theme of the lesson we are talking about, that you are but branches of a divine tree and that you of yourself, you can do nothing? All truths whether called science or religion, or philosophy, come from a divine source.
You, then, I plead with y ou, do not in your search for truth, allow yourselves to become severed from the "vine". In all your learning, measure it and test it by the white light of truth revealed to the prophet of God and you will never be led astray.


Many in the secular world are often sdrift and anchorless. Only an education which educates for eternity has the wholeness which humans need. When we separate learning from divine moral truth, it deteriorates into a restless, roving search for meaning and often drifts into a sensual selfishness.


The scientific approach to proof is by experimentation in the laboratory...We cannot overlook the great good this approach by science has upon the lives of persons, but how about those things which lie outside of the realm of positive, tangible proof? This question brings us to the higher law. It is through the assurance that comes from fiath....Thomas had said, "To see is to believe," but Christ answered, "To believe is to see."


We live in a world where knowledge is developing at an ever-accelerating rate. Drink deeply from this ever-springing well of wisdom and human experience. If you should stop now, you will only stunt your intellectual and spiritual grwoth. Keep everlastingly at it. Read. Read, REad. REad the word of God in sacred books of scripture. Read from the great literature of the ages. Read what is being said in our day and time and what will be said in the future.