Sunday, March 28, 2010

Latter- Day Miracles: The Seagulls and the Crickets

Sherrie Johnson, “Deseret,” Liahona, Dec 1997, 10–11

"As the Saints began to settle the Salt Lake Valley and to prepare for others to arrive, Brigham Young named the new territory Deseret, a Book of Mormon word meaning “honeybee” (see Ether 2:3). He wanted to encourage the people to turn the wilderness into a “hive” of activity. It turned out to be a very fitting name.

The first of the 10 pioneer companies of 1847 arrived in July. Soon an adobe fort and 450 log cabins were built, and 2,078 hectares were cultivated.

By the next spring, provisions were dangerously low. Clothes were wearing out, food supplies were diminishing, and more settlers were arriving. Each person was limited to about a quarter of a kilogram of flour per day. To survive, families ate crows, wolves, thistle tops, wild berries, bark, roots, and sego lily bulbs while anxiously awaiting the growth of their crops.

In May and June, however, hordes of black crickets, some as big as a man’s thumb, began devouring the crops. All who were able took sticks, shovels, brooms, or whatever else they could find and battled the intruders.

The Saints dug trenches around the crops, drove the crickets into them, and tried to drown the pests. Still they came. Brigham Young later joked that when they killed one cricket, two more came to bury the first.* It must have seemed that way to the hungry Saints.

For over two weeks they fought the crickets while praying for help. Finally, on the Sabbath, while Charles C. Rich was preaching during church, huge flocks of gulls flew in from the Great Salt Lake and began to devour the crickets. The gulls ate until they were full, vomited what they had eaten, and ate again, repeating this strange behavior for many days until they had saved much of the crops.

The Saints were humbled and knew that God was watching over them."

'President John Smith of the Salt Lake Stake called a special fast day, and the people all fasted and prayed and then continued to fight the crickets. They knew God would have to help them if they were to save the harvest. Their prayers were answered on a clear afternoon when seagulls began to appear in the sky. John R. Young described the event:

“There must have been thousands of them. Their coming was like a great cloud; and when they passed between us and the sun, a shadow covered the field. …

“At first we thought that they, also, were after the wheat and this thought added to our terror; but we soon discovered that they devoured only the crickets” (Memoirs of John R. Young, as quoted in William E. Berrett, The Restored Church [1961], 285; see also 283–84)." (Gospel Art Picture Kit)

"Susan Noble Grant, who was sixteen years old at the time, described what then happened :

“The answer to our fasting and prayers came on a clear summer afternoon.

“We were fearfully alarmed, for all of a sudden, circling above our … fields, appeared great flocks of screaming gulls. ‘A new plague is descending upon us,’ was our first thought. Down the gray and white birds swooped in hundreds, then in thousands, uttering shrill … cries as they pounced upon [the crickets]. … Then a strange thing happened. As soon as they had gorged themselves, they sailed over to a nearby stream, took a few sips of water, disgorged [vomited] and returned to join their screaming companions. All our people stood in wonderment! Our prayers were answered”( “Lesson 41: The Saints Settle the Salt Lake Valley,” Primary 5: Doctrine and Covenants: Church History, (1997),238') (quoted in Grant, p. 446).

Friday, March 26, 2010

Full Purpose of Heart, and Real Intent

Elder DallinH. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“If a person performs a seemingly righteous act but does so for the wrong reasons, such as to achieve a selfish purpose, his hands may be clean but his heart is not ‘pure.’ His act will not be counted for righteousness....

“We must not only do what is right. We must act for the right reasons. The modern term is good motive. The scriptures often signify this appropriate mental attitude with the words full purpose of heart or real intent.

“The scriptures make clear that God understands our motives and will judge our actions accordingly” ( Pure in Heart [1988], 13, 15).

Matthew 6:1

"Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven."

Bishop RobertD. Hales, who was then Presiding Bishop of the Church:

“We must examine our motives. A good check and balance in decision making is to look at our motives for making our decisions. We should ask ourselves, ‘Are my motives selfish, or is there charity in the decision I am about to make? Is this decision in keeping with the commandments, both in the spirit and the letter of the law? Is my decision basically right, honorable, and compatible with the golden rule? Have I considered the impact of my decision on others?’

“‘Let all your [decisions] be done with charity’ ( 1Corinthians 16:14 ).

“Beware of fear and greed. Be aware of your true motives” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 12; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 11 ).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The God-Given Right to Choose

Thanks to Pearl Diver for this quote. Note that this was written in 1974.

President Ezra Taft Benson:

From his book God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, pg. 356. 1974:
"In the war in heaven the devil advocated absolute eternal security at the sacrifice of our freedom. Although there is nothing more desirable to a Latter-day Saint than eternal security in Gods presence, and although God knew, as we did, that some of us would not achieve this security if we were allowed our freedom, yet the very God of heaven who has more mercy than us all still decreed no guaranteed security except by a mans own freedom of choice and individual initiative.

Today the devil as a wolf in a supposedly new suit of sheeps clothing is enticing some men, both in and out of the Church, to parrot his line by advocating planned government-guaranteed security programs at the expense of our liberties. Latter-day Saints should be reminded how and why they voted as they did in heaven. If some have decided to change their votes they should repent, throw their support on the side of freedom, and cease promoting this subversion."

Quote of the Day: Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“I have been puzzled that some scriptures command us not to judge and others instruct us that we should judge and even tell us how to do it. I am convinced that these seemingly contradictory directions are consistent when we view them with the perspective of eternity. The key is to understand that there are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles” ( Judge Not and Judging [CES fireside for young adults, 1Mar. 1998], 1).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Part 3: A 14 Year Old Boy

In continuing with the discussion of Joseph Smith's vision, I thought it would be interesting to look at the reaction of others to Joseph testimony of his experience. He was a boy of no particular standing in the community. He didn't come from a wealthy family, and worked hard to help his family get by. He had only been able to get a grade school education. He was only 14, and as such, should not have proved a threat to others, but his testimony created quite an upset in his community.

He recorded, "Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them.

I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.

It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself." (Joseph Smith history 21-23)

As I thought about the persecution Joseph endured, I couldn't help but wonder what my reaction might be if a 14 year old boy told me of such an experience. I think that if I knew the boy, and knew him to be of good character, I would believe what he told me. If I did not know the boy, at the very most I probably would dismiss his experience, and ignore him, but I would not feel the need to persecute him, or defame him in public. Joseph wasn't standing on the street corners preaching about his experience. He shared it with certain persons, but it wasn't like he was going about contending with other ministers. In fact, the church wouldn't be organized for another 10 years, so there was no reason for him to preach at that point. So why was there so much animosity toward him? As Joseph himself said, it certainly was very strange that a simple, humble 14 year old boy should be the target of so much reviling.

Joseph Smith went on to record, "However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.

So it was with me. 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 they 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." (Joseph Smith History, 24,25)

That young boy would go on to have other persecutions because of his testimony. He would ultimately die as a martyr, rather than retract his testimony. As I thought about his experience, I wondered how we today would react if Joseph had been born in our day? Would we persecute him for saying he had a vision? Would we believe his testimony? Would the whole religious world combine against him? As I pondered these thoughts, it occurred to me that each day, people are introduced for the first time to Joseph's testimony. Each day they must make a decision how to react. Though Joseph Smith is no longer alive to deliver that message in person, missionaries still teach others about his experience. We have the opportunity to decide for ourselves if his testimony is true.

My advice for any wanting to know the truth of his account, is to go to the source. When I am searching the internet on a certain subject, I try to go to the best source. When we seek information from lesser sources, we might find that they are biased, or that they don't have all of the information. They might even be enemies to the subject we are researching. I always encourage my friends who are interested in learning about our church to come to me, or the missionaries, or an official church website to learn. Other sources might not present our beliefs in an accurate way. But the best source of truth is God. In James 1:5, Joseph read that if any man lacks wisdom, he can ask of God, who will liberally give answers to us. He is the ultimate source of truth. Joseph Smith's testimony has been sealed with his blood. I encourage all to study his testimony, then pray to God to know if what Joseph testified is true.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Quote of the Day: Elder Rulon G. Craven

Elder Rulon G. Craven, then a member of the Seventy:

“It is a frightening realization that the powers of evil will increase in the world. This brings us to the questions, What can we do? Is there a way to escape from the powers of evil? Yes, there is.

“Members of the Church can overcome temptation by (1)obedience to the guiding principles and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, (2)following the counsel of our prophets and leaders, and (3)living in such a way that our lives are constantly influenced by the power of the Holy Ghost.

“Train your mind to obey gospel principles and covenants. Stay on the highway of daily personal and family prayer, the avenue of studying the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets, the road of serving in the Church, and be willing to get off the wrong road daily and on the right road leading to eternal life. Your greatest protection against temptation is an active and vibrant testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which binds us to our Heavenly Father” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 107; or Ensign, May 1996, 77 ).

Quote of the Day: Ezra Taft Benson: Pride

President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

“Pride is a very misunderstood sin, and many are sinning in ignorance (see Mosiah 3:11 ; 3Nephi 6:18 ). In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride—it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby (see 2Nephi 4:15 ; Mosiah 1:3–7 ; Alma 5:61 ).

“Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

“The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means ‘hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.’ It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 3; or Ensign, May 1989, 4

Oh Divine Redeemer

Our choir performed this song yesterday. It is one of my favorites. It also was a favorite of Pope John Paul. It's a very emotional song; tough to sing through strong emotions.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Part 2: A 14 Year Old Boy

One might ask why God would choose to restore His church through a 14 year old boy. Why would He not choose someone older and wiser? Why would He not choose someone better educated? Joseph Smith only had a grade school education.

In partial answer to this question, we can look to the Bible. The Prophet Samuel was chosen in his youth, and had communion with God at a young age. (See 1 Samuel 3) God knew what kind of person Samuel was, and called him at a young age so that He could teach and train him.

The Prophet Jeremiah was told by the Lord, " Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5) God knew these men before they were born in to this world. He knew their character, and He had ordained them to come in to this world and become prophets. We believe that others were also "fore ordained" to become prophets. In Abraham 3:22,23 we read, "22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born." We only see people for who they appear to be, but God knows who they were before they were born, and who they will become in the future.

My mother and father married when they were very young. My mother was 18, and my Dad was only 17. My mother often jokingly said, "I married a younger man so I could train him up the way I wanted." While she was only joking, I do think that God has at times done this very thing with some of the prophets.

Why choose a 14 year old boy? A 14 year old boy has not been "indoctrinated" by any one field of religion. A 14 year old boy is humble and teachable. And who can doubt the faith of a child? I am thankful for Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration. I am thankful for his childlike faith, and his obedience to what God asked him to do. I am thankful that despite persecution, Joseph was faithful until the end. He truly was a great prophet of God.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A 14 Year Old Boy

Can you remember what it was like to be 14 years old? Joseph Smith was just 14 years old when he had a vision that changed his life, and changed the world. He had been praying to know which church he should join. He had read in James 1:5, that if anyone lacked wisdom, they could ask of God, who gives to all men liberally. He knew that he must do as James counseled, which was to ask in faith, nothing wavering. In answer to his prayer, God the Father, and Jesus Christ appeared to him. They told him not to join any of the churches. In 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ was restored to the Earth through Joseph Smith.

When I look at what the church has become today, I feel even more deeply a testimony that this is the true church of God restored to the Earth. When I see how the church has grown, I feel even more strongly that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. Here are some questions that I hope will give food for thought.


Why would a 14 year old boy, with a grade school education, report that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate beings with glorified physical bodies? Wouldn't a 14 year old boy describe the God that he had been taught in the many churches he had attended? The churches at that time taught that God the Father, and Jesus Christ were one being, without body, parts or passions. But Joseph gave us a different understanding about the nature of God.


Could a 14 year old boy have forseen that today we would have over 52,000 missionaries serving in 348 missions throughout the world? One of the first things Joseph Smith did, after organizing the church in 1830, was to send missionaries out to preach the gospel. Could that young boy have forseen the growth of the church throughout the world? Could he forsee that the church would one day have over 13 million members?


One of the other things that Joseph Smith started work on after organizing the church, was the building of temples. Could he, as a 14 year old boy, have forseen that today we would have over 128 temples thoughout the world? How could a 14 year old boy have grasped ideas such as baptism for the dead, and eternal marriage?


Could that 14 year old boy conceive of additional scripture besides the Bible? Could he then, with only a grade school education, go on to write a book that has been named as one of the most influential books in America? Could he have understood the geography, history, and cultural details about the Americas? Could he have understood the religious customs of the Jews that are discussed in the Book of Mormon?

Elder Wilford Woodruff recalled this testimony by Joseph Smith, "Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.’ I was rather surprised. He said, ‘It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.’ ” (Wilford Woodruff, in Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 57)

Could a 14 year old boy have forseen the destiny of this church? In my opinion, an ordinary 14 year old boy could not have forseen what this church would become, but a Prophet could. Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. He brought about the "restoration of all things" spoken about in the New Testament. He organized the church according to the pattern given by the Savior long ago. Today that organization continues to flourish, built upon a foundation of prophets and apostles. It flourishes because it is not an organization made by man, but one designed by God. I'm thankful for that humble 14 year old boy who lived faithfully so that we could enjoy the blessings of being part of God's church in these latter days.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Becoming Provident Providers

This talk by Elder Robert D. Hales is both valuable and timely.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Quote of the Day: Ezra Taft Benson

Ezra Taft Benson:

"We live today in a wicked world. Never in our memory have the forces of evil been arrayed in such a deadly formation. The devil is well organized and has many emissaries working for him. His satanic majesty has proclaimed his intention to destroy our young people, to weaken the home and family, and to defeat the purposes of the Lord Jesus Christ through his great church" ( God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties [1974], 90).

"All through the ages the prophets have looked down through the corridors of time to our day. Billions of the deceased and those yet to be born have their eyes on us. Make no mistake about it—you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time as there is of us. Never before on the face of this earth have the forces of evil and the forces of good been as well organized. Now is the great day of the devil's power. ... But now is also the great day of the Lord's power, with the greatest number ever of priesthood holders on the earth" ("In His Steps," in 1979 Devotional Speeches of the Year [1980], 59).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Quote of the Day: Richard L. Evans

Richard L. Evans:

“We find ourselves often quoting the words of the prophets, and, lest there be some doubt as to what a prophet is, we submit that it is one who, under the appointment and inspiration of the Lord God, speaks truth as the spirit moves him, regardless of what the world is thinking and regardless of what men would like to hear.

“And, therefore, a prophet is seldom popular, and the cost of being a prophet is always great, for he may be called upon to say those things which are not pleasing, ... and he may find himself fighting against a tide of mass-misconception, and, as history records, be stoned, crucified, banished, ridiculed, shunned, or rejected. For the truth is not pleasing unto all men, and time has proved that majorities are not always right....

“It is not important that a prophet should say those things with which you and I are in full accord. But it is important that you and I should bring ourselves into full accord with those things which a prophet speaks by virtue of his office and calling” (RichardL. Evans, “On Being a Prophet,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1939, p.672).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Parable of the Control Tower

I want to share with you a parable that I wrote. It may not be a perfect parable, and there might be problems with the way it is written, but bear with me. :)

There once was a very good, wise and powerful King who ruled over the land. In this land were all the modern conveniences such as automobiles and planes. Of course, the King set up the infrastructure of the city so as to provide the safest and most pleasant environment for his people to live. Included in his planning was a large control tower at the airport. The King instructed the tower personnel in the latest safety measures. He taught them the rules of the airport. He taught them how to check the weather. He taught them how to keep things organized so that the planes could land safely.

One day the King decided to go to visit his father in another land. He chose some workers that he trusted, to work in the control tower while he was away. He taught them carefully about all of the rules and regulations so that they too would know how to guide the planes. He also gave them the phone number of where he could be reached. Then off he went to visit his father.

At first things went very well. The workers kept things running smoothly, and helped to avoid accidents among the planes. But as time went on, the different airlines began to complain that things should be done a different way. Their main concern was their own airline's profitability, and flight schedule. They felt they knew as much about airports as these simple workers, so they began to follow their own rules. The control tower employees could no longer do their job, and were forced out. Ultimately, the airport was in chaos, with no one left at the control tower.

Some people were unconcerned about the lack of control tower personnel. They felt that as long as their individual airline followed company policy, then they would be able to take off land safely. Some airlines felt that since they had flown under the command of the King's workers, that they had more of the proper authority to make decisions for how the airport should be run than other airlines. What ultimately happened was that the airport was split in to different sections run by individual airlines. Only planes from the company that ran a certain section of the airport were allowed to land in that area. The workers really did care about their company, and really did care about their work. However, the biggest problem was that there was no one at the tower to tell them of incoming weather, or congested flight patterns. Because of this, some of the airlines didn't survive. Most of the airlines could remember some of the King's rules and instructions, but many of them had been forgotten.

One day the King finally returned from his long trip abroad. When he came to check on the tower, he was saddened to find that his workers were gone. The once wonderful and efficient airport was now in chaos. He sent a proclamation throughout the land that from now on, each airline would be responsible to follow his rules, and to listen to the attendant in the control tower. One day a terrible storm began to form off the coast of their country. The King informed the control tower, and commanded his workers to alert the different airlines to the incoming danger. Because of his vantage point, the control tower commander could see to guide the planes safely to land, and could see the approach of the incoming storm. He was very grateful to have a King who had planned well, and put in to effect an efficient organization so that all of the people could be spared.

Now, as poorly written as this might be, I would like to draw an analogy. The King in the story can be compared to the Savior. While on the Earth, Jesus Christ set up His church. He ordained 12 apostles, and chose one of them, Peter, to lead the church after He was gone. But as time went on, some people forgot some of the teachings of the Savior, or they changed them to fit their own ideals. Eventually, all of the apostles were killed. What came about as a result of this "apostasy" was chaos. Although each church and pastor had good intentions, and worked hard to build up their church the best they could, it was not the same organization that Christ had set up. Eventually, there was no one on the "watchtower" to receive prophecy for the church as a whole, to warn of future or present danger. In Jeremiah 6:17 we read, "Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken." Those in the early church chose not to "hearken" to the words of the prophets.

Ezekiel was made a watchman. The Lord said, "Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me" Ezekiel 3:17. He was chosen to receive revelation from the Lord, and in turn warn the people. This is the calling of a prophet. Today we have a living prophet guiding the church. He receives revelation to guide and warn us in these modern days. Some may say that the words of ancient prophets are sufficient. But were the words of Noah sufficient for the children of Israel who were in bondage to Pharoah? No, Moses received current revelation for that situation. So too, we need a watchman on the tower today to give us current revelation from God, and to warn us of dangers that are ahead. I am thankful that God has chosen a prophet today, just as in times of old. Because, just as told to Amos, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." Amos 3:7 This is the organization that the Savior, Himself set up. This is the pattern that has been used through the ages. Today we have the same organization with a living prophet acting as a watchman on the tower.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Book of Mormon Sampler: OBEDIENCE: Helaman 12:1-8

1 And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.
2 Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.
3 And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.
4 O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!
5 Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!
6 Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide.
7 O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth.
8 For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Quote of the Day: Donald L. Staheli

Elder Donald L. Staheli, a member of the Seventy:

“Regardless of our age and stage in life, daily obedience to gospel principles is the only sure way to eternal happiness. President Ezra Taft Benson put it most poignantly when he said, ‘When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 108; or Ensign, May 1998, 82 ).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Satan's Tactics

Elder M. Russell Ballard said,
“One of Satan’s clever tactics is to tempt us to concentrate on the present and ignore the future. The Lord warned Joseph Smith that ‘Satan seeketh to turn their hearts away from the truth, that they become blinded and understand not the things which are prepared for them’ ( D&C 78:10 ). The ‘things which are prepared for them’ are the promised rewards of eternal life, which come as a result of obedience. The devil attempts to blind us to these rewards. President HeberJ. Grant said that ‘if we are faithful in keeping the commandments of God His promises will be fulfilled to the very letter. ... The trouble is, the adversary of men’s souls blinds their minds. He throws dust, so to speak, in their eyes, and they are blinded with the things of this world’ ( Gospel Standards, comp. G.Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941], pp.44–45). He tempts us with the transitory pleasures of the world so that we will not focus our minds and efforts on the things that bring eternal joy. The devil is a dirty fighter, and we must be aware of his tactics” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 45–46; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 36 ).

Elder F. Enzio Busche: Speaking About Hope, and How to Let the Lord Teach Us.

I love this video that was shared with my by my sister Inklings. I love the part that encourages us to "magnify our fear of the consequences of sin". There are many great "quotables" in this video.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Apostasy and Restoration

I considered writing my own post on this subject, but I found this one by Elder Oaks so excellent, that I decided I couldn't write better.

Dallin H. Oaks, “Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign, May 1995, 84

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has many beliefs in common with other Christian churches. But we have differences, and those differences explain why we send missionaries to other Christians, why we build temples in addition to churches, and why our beliefs bring us such happiness and strength to deal with the challenges of life and death. I wish to speak about some of the important additions our doctrines make to the Christian faith. My subject is apostasy and restoration.

Last year searchers discovered a Roman fort and city in the Sinai close to the Suez Canal. Though once a major city, its location had been covered by desert sands and its existence had been forgotten for hundreds of years (see “Remains of Roman Fortress Emerge from Sinai Desert,” Deseret News, 6 Oct. 1994, p. A20). Discoveries like this contradict the common assumption that knowledge increases with the passage of time. In fact, on some matters the general knowledge of mankind regresses as some important truths are distorted or ignored and eventually forgotten. For example, the American Indians were in many respects more successful at living in harmony with nature than our modern society. Similarly, modern artists and craftsmen have been unable to recapture some of the superior techniques and materials of the past, like the varnish on a Stradivarius violin.

We would be wiser if we could restore the knowledge of some important things that have been distorted, ignored, or forgotten. This also applies to religious knowledge. It explains the need for the gospel restoration we proclaim.

When Joseph Smith was asked to explain the major tenets of our faith, he wrote what we now call the Articles of Faith. The first article states, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” The Prophet later declared that “the simple and first principles of the gospel” include knowing “for a certainty the character of God” (“Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 15 Aug. 1844, p. 614). We must begin with the truth about God and our relationship to him. Everything else follows from that.

In common with the rest of Christianity, we believe in a Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. However, we testify that these three members of the Godhead are three separate and distinct beings. We also testify that God the Father is not just a spirit but is a glorified person with a tangible body, as is his resurrected Son, Jesus Christ.

When first communicated to mankind by prophets, the teachings we now have in the Bible were “plain and pure, and most precious and easy” to understand (1 Ne. 14:23). Even in the transmitted and translated version we have today, the Bible language confirms that God the Father and his resurrected Son, Jesus Christ, are tangible, separate beings. To cite only two of many such teachings, the Bible declares that man was created in the image of God, and it describes three separate members of the Godhead manifested at the baptism of Jesus (see Gen. 1:27; Matt. 3:13–17).

In contrast, many Christians reject the idea of a tangible, personal God and a Godhead of three separate beings. They believe that God is a spirit and that the Godhead is only one God. In our view, these concepts are evidence of the falling away we call the Great Apostasy.

We maintain that the concepts identified by such nonscriptural terms as “the incomprehensible mystery of God” and “the mystery of the Holy Trinity” are attributable to the ideas of Greek philosophy. These philosophical concepts transformed Christianity in the first few centuries following the deaths of the Apostles. For example, philosophers then maintained that physical matter was evil and that God was a spirit without feelings or passions. Persons of this persuasion, including learned men who became influential converts to Christianity, had a hard time accepting the simple teachings of early Christianity: an Only Begotten Son who said he was in the express image of his Father in Heaven and who taught his followers to be one as he and his Father were one, and a Messiah who died on a cross and later appeared to his followers as a resurrected being with flesh and bones.

The collision between the speculative world of Greek philosophy and the simple, literal faith and practice of the earliest Christians produced sharp contentions that threatened to widen political divisions in the fragmenting Roman empire. This led Emperor Constantine to convene the first churchwide council in a.d. 325. The action of this council of Nicaea remains the most important single event after the death of the Apostles in formulating the modern Christian concept of deity. The Nicene Creed erased the idea of the separate being of Father and Son by defining God the Son as being of “one substance with the Father.”

Other councils followed, and from their decisions and the writings of churchmen and philosophers there came a synthesis of Greek philosophy and Christian doctrine in which the orthodox Christians of that day lost the fulness of truth about the nature of God and the Godhead. The consequences persist in the various creeds of Christianity, which declare a Godhead of only one being and which describe that single being or God as “incomprehensible” and “without body, parts, or passions.” One of the distinguishing features of the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is its rejection of all of these postbiblical creeds (see Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991; Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 4 vols., New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992, s.v. “Apostasy,” “doctrine,” “God the Father,” and “Godhead”).

In the process of what we call the Apostasy, the tangible, personal God described in the Old and New Testaments was replaced by the abstract, incomprehensible deity defined by compromise with the speculative principles of Greek philosophy. The received language of the Bible remained, but the so-called “hidden meanings” of scriptural words were now explained in the vocabulary of a philosophy alien to their origins. In the language of that philosophy, God the Father ceased to be a Father in any but an allegorical sense. He ceased to exist as a comprehensible and compassionate being. And the separate identity of his Only Begotten Son was swallowed up in a philosophical abstraction that attempted to define a common substance and an incomprehensible relationship.

These descriptions of a religious philosophy are surely undiplomatic, but I hasten to add that Latter-day Saints do not apply such criticism to the men and women who profess these beliefs. We believe that most religious leaders and followers are sincere believers who love God and understand and serve him to the best of their abilities. We are indebted to the men and women who kept the light of faith and learning alive through the centuries to the present day. We have only to contrast the lesser light that exists among peoples unfamiliar with the names of God and Jesus Christ to realize the great contribution made by Christian teachers through the ages. We honor them as servants of God.

Then came the First Vision. An unschooled boy, seeking knowledge from the ultimate source, saw two personages of indescribable brightness and glory and heard one of them say, while pointing to the other, “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS—H 1:17.) The divine teaching in that vision began the restoration of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God the Son told the boy prophet that all the “creeds” of the churches of that day “were an abomination in his sight” (JS—H 1:19). We affirm that this divine declaration was a condemnation of the creeds, not of the faithful seekers who believed in them. Joseph Smith’s first vision showed that the prevailing concepts of the nature of God and the Godhead were untrue and could not lead their adherents to the destiny God desired for them.

After a subsequent outpouring of modern scripture and revelation, this modern prophet declared, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit” (D&C 130:22).

This belief does not mean that we claim sufficient spiritual maturity to comprehend God. Nor do we equate our imperfect mortal bodies to his immortal, glorified being. But we can comprehend the fundamentals he has revealed about himself and the other members of the Godhead. And that knowledge is essential to our understanding of the purpose of mortal life and of our eternal destiny as resurrected beings after mortal life.

In the theology of the restored church of Jesus Christ, the purpose of mortal life is to prepare us to realize our destiny as sons and daughters of God—to become like Him. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young both taught that “no man … can know himself unless he knows God, and he can not know God unless he knows himself” (in Journal of Discourses, 16:75; see also The Words of Joseph Smith, ed. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1980, p. 340). The Bible describes mortals as “the children of God” and as “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16–17). It also declares that “we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:17) and that “when he shall appear, we shall be like him” (1 Jn. 3:2). We take these Bible teachings literally. We believe that the purpose of mortal life is to acquire a physical body and, through the atonement of Jesus Christ and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, to qualify for the glorified, resurrected celestial state that is called exaltation or eternal life.

Like other Christians, we believe in a heaven or paradise and a hell following mortal life, but to us that two-part division of the righteous and the wicked is merely temporary, while the spirits of the dead await their resurrections and final judgments. The destinations that follow the final judgments are much more diverse. Our restored knowledge of the separateness of the three members of the Godhead provides a key to help us understand the diversities of resurrected glory.

In their final judgment, the children of God will be assigned to a kingdom of glory for which their obedience has qualified them. In his letters to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul described these places. He told of a vision in which he was “caught up to the third heaven” and “heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor. 12:2, 4). Speaking of the resurrection of the dead, he described “celestial bodies,” “bodies terrestrial” (1 Cor. 15:40), and “bodies telestial” (JST, 1 Cor. 15:40), each pertaining to a different degree of glory. He likened these different glories to the sun, to the moon, and to different stars (see 1 Cor. 15:41).

We learn from modern revelation that these three different degrees of glory have a special relationship to the three different members of the Godhead.

The lowest degree is the telestial domain of those who “received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets” (D&C 76:101) and who have had to suffer for their wickedness. But even this degree has a glory that “surpasses all understanding” (D&C 76:89). Its occupants receive the Holy Spirit and the administering of angels, for even those who have been wicked will ultimately be “heirs of [this degree of] salvation” (D&C 76:88).

The next higher degree of glory, the terrestrial, “excels in all things the glory of the telestial, even in glory, and in power, and in might, and in dominion” (D&C 76:91). The terrestrial is the abode of those who were the “honorable men of the earth” (D&C 76:75). Its most distinguishing feature is that those who qualify for terrestrial glory “receive of the presence of the Son” (D&C 76:77). Concepts familiar to all Christians might liken this higher kingdom to heaven because it has the presence of the Son.

In contrast to traditional Christianity, we join with Paul in affirming the existence of a third or higher heaven. Modern revelation describes it as the celestial kingdom—the abode of those “whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God” (D&C 76:70). Those who qualify for this kingdom of glory “shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever” (D&C 76:62). Those who have met the highest requirements for this kingdom, including faithfulness to covenants made in a temple of God and marriage for eternity, will be exalted to the godlike state referred to as the “fulness” of the Father or eternal life (D&C 76:56, 94; see also D&C 131; D&C 132:19–20). (This destiny of eternal life or God’s life should be familiar to all who have studied the ancient Christian doctrine of and belief in deification or apotheosis.) For us, eternal life is not a mystical union with an incomprehensible spirit-god. Eternal life is family life with a loving Father in Heaven and with our progenitors and our posterity.

The theology of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is comprehensive, universal, merciful, and true. Following the necessary experience of mortal life, all sons and daughters of God will ultimately be resurrected and go to a kingdom of glory. The righteous—regardless of current religious denomination or belief—will ultimately go to a kingdom of glory more wonderful than any of us can comprehend. Even the wicked, or almost all of them, will ultimately go to a marvelous—though lesser—kingdom of glory. All of that will occur because of God’s love for his children and because of the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, “who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands” (D&C 76:43).

The purpose of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to help all of the children of God understand their potential and achieve their highest destiny. This church exists to provide the sons and daughters of God with the means of entrance into and exaltation in the celestial kingdom. This is a family-centered church in doctrine and practices. Our understanding of the nature and purpose of God the Eternal Father explains our destiny and our relationship in his eternal family. Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them. Under the merciful plan of the Father, all of this is possible through the atonement of the Only Begotten of the Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As earthly parents we participate in the gospel plan by providing mortal bodies for the spirit children of God. The fulness of eternal salvation is a family matter.

It is the reality of these glorious possibilities that causes us to proclaim our message of restored Christianity to all people, even to good practicing Christians with other beliefs. This is why we build temples. This is the faith that gives us strength and joy to confront the challenges of mortal life. We offer these truths and opportunities to all people and testify to their truthfulness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Do We Really Know What We Have?

Do We Really Know What We Have?

As written by Scott Anderson in his journal.

We had an unexpected moment in the mission field. We knocked on a door and a lady said something to us we had never heard, "Come in". Now remember, I was a German missionary. This never happened to us, not even the members would say that to us. At this point suddenly this dear lady invited us in. My companion said, "Do you know who we are?" "You want to talk religion, don't you?" she said. "Yes we do" explained my companion.
"Oh, come in. I've watching you walk around the neighborhood. I'm so excited to have you here. Please come into my study." We went in and seated ourselves and she sat down behind the desk.
She looked at us with a smile, then pointed to three PhD's hanging over her head. one in theology, the study of religion, one in Philosophy, the study of ideas, and one in European History specializing in Christianity. She then kind of rubbed her hands together and said, "Do you see this row of books here?" We looked at a well arranged row of books. She then said, "I wrote them all. I’m the Theology professor at the University of Munich. I’ve been doing this for 41 years. I love to talk about religion. What would you like to discuss?" My inspired companion said, " we'd like to talk about the Book of Mormon." She said,
"I don't know anything about the Book of Mormon." He said, "I know". Twenty minutes later we walked out of the room. We had handed her a Book of Mormon and this trade off that we had been on was over. I didn't see this lady for another 8 1/2 weeks.
It was a small room filled with people, {when I saw her again}, as she was standing in the front dressed in white. This Theology professor at the University of Munich was well known throughout Southern Germany. She stood up in front of this small congregation of people and said, "Before I'm baptized I’d like to tell you of my feelings. In Amos 8:11 it says, there will be a famine in the work of God. I've been in that famine for 76 years. Why do you think I have three PhD's? I've been hungering for the truth and have been unable to find it. Then 8 1/2 weeks ago, two boys walked into my home. I want you to know these boys are very nice and wonderful young men, but they didn't convert me. They couldn't; they don't know enough." And then she smiled and said, "but since the day they walked in my door I have read the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, all of Talmage's great writings, Evidence and Reconciliations by John A. Widtsoe and 22 other volumes of Church Doctrine." She then said something which I think is a challenge for everyone of us here. She said, 'I don't think you members know what you have."
Then in her quiet, powerful way, she said, "After those years of studying philosophy, I picked up the D & C and read a few little verses that answered some of the greatest questions of Aristotle and Socrates! When I read those verses, I wept for 4 hours." Then she said again, "I don't think you members know what you have. Don't you understand the world is in a famine? Don't you know we are starving for what you have? I am like a starving person being led to a feast. And over these 8 1/2 weeks I have been able to feast in a way I have never known possible."
Her powerful message and her challenging question was then ended with her favorite scripture, "For you don't see the truth can make you free."
She said, "these missionaries don't just carry membership in the church in their hands, they carry within their hands the power to make the atonement of Jesus Christ full force in my life. Today I'm going into the water and I'm going to make a covenant with Christ for the first time with proper authority. I've wanted to do this all my life." None of us will forget the day she was baptized. When she got finished being baptized, she got back out and before she received the Holy Ghost , she stood and said, "Now I would like to talk about the Holy Ghost for awhile." She then gave a wonderful talk about the gift of the Holy Ghost.
{Later in Elder Anderson's journal}
Two young missionaries, both relatively new, {one had been out about 5 months, the other 3 weeks}, accidentally knocked of the door of the seminary in Regensburg. 125 wonderful men were studying to become priests inside. They didn't realize this was the door they had knocked on because it looked like any other door. They were invited in. In somewhat of a panic, the man said, "I am sorry we just don't have time right now." The 2 missionaries were relieved, but then he said, "Would you come back next Tuesday and spend 2 hours addressing all 125 of us and answer questions about your church?" They agreed that they would, and ran down the road screaming. They made a phone call to their mission president and cried for help. The mission president called us and said, "Do you think that dear lady that you have just brought into the church would like to come help these 2 missionaries with this assignment?" I called her to explain what was to happen, and she said, "more than I would like to eat, more than I would like to sleep, more than..." I said, "Fine, you don't have to explain."
We drove her to the seminary, and as we went in, she grabbed the 2 missionaries that had originally been invited, put her arms around them and said, "you are wonderful young men. Would each of you spend about 2 minutes bearing your testimony and then sit down and be quiet please?"
They were grateful for their assignment. they bore their testimony and then seated themselves. Then she got up and said, "For the next 30 minutes I would like to talk to you about historical apostasy." She knew every date and fact. She had a PhD in this. She talked abut everything that had been taken away from the great teachings the Saviour had given, mostly organizational, in the first part of her talk. the next 45 minutes were doctrinal.
She gave every point of doctrinal changes, when it happened and what had changed. By the time she was done, she looked at them and said, "In 1820 a boy walked into a grove of trees. He had been in a famine just like I have been. He knelt to pray, because he was hungry just like I have been. He saw God the Father and His Son. I know this is hard for you to believe that they could be two separate beings, but I know they are." she shared scriptures that showed that they were and then said, "I would like to talk about historical restoration of truth." she then, point by point, date by date, from the Doctrine and Covenants, put back the organizational structure of Christ's church. The last 20 minutes of her talk were absolutely brilliant. For the first time we realized that she had been their Theology professor. She continued by saying, "Last year when I was teaching you, I told you that I was still in a famine. I have been led to a feast. I invite you to come." she finished with her testimony and sat down. What happened next was hard for me to understand. These 125 sincere, wonderful men stood and for the next 7 minutes, gave her a standing ovation. By the time 4 minutes had gone by I was crying. I remember standing and looking into their eyes and seeing the tears in their eyes too. I wondered why they were applauding after the message she had given. I asked many of them later. They said, "to hear someone so unashamed of the truth, to hear someone teaching with such power, to hear someone who finally has conviction."
The truth is what can set us free...Do we really know what we have?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Christ's Church: Then and Now

Prophets guided God's people: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Samuel, and Elijah to name a few.
Prophets guide God's people: Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Gordon B. Hinckley, and Thomas S. Monson to name a few.

Jesus Christ stood at the head of the church, and chose 12 apostles:

Simon Peter, Andrew, James, son of Zebedee, John, his brother, Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew the Publican, James, the son of Alphaeus, Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus, Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot.

Jesus Christ stands at the head of the church and again has chosen 12 apostles:
Boyd K. Packer, L. Tom Perry, Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, M. Russell Ballard, Richard G. Scott, Robert D. Hales, Jeffrey R. Holland, David A. Bednar, Quentin L. Cook, D. Todd Christofferson, and Neil L. Andersen.

Sacred ordinances were performed in Holy temples

Now: Sacred ordinances are still performed in Holy temples.

Holy men wrote as they were inspired by God. This became scripture.

Holy men write as they are inspired by God. This is modern day scripture.

Ezekiel 37:19
"Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. "


Jesus sent His disciples forth to preach the gospel.
"After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come." Luke 10:1


Missionaries are being sent throughout the entire world to preach the gospel.

I bear witness that this is the restored church of Jesus Christ. When He was on the Earth, the Savior set up His church with apostles and prophets. That same organization has been restored in these latter days, following a period of apostasy which the world knows as the "Dark ages". I testify that the "times of restitution of all things" has come to pass. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the ancient church of Jesus Christ, restored to the Earth.

"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 3:21