Thursday, April 29, 2010

Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost

When I was young, I was friends with a girl whose family was Pentacostal. I noticed several things about their lifestyle, such as the fact that the women in their family only wore skirts, not pants, didn't wear jewelry, and didn't cut their hair. One day when I was visiting my friend, I asked her some questions about her religion. She told me that in addition to their dress code, they also didn't watch television, or listen to popular music on the radio. They also didn't dance. She told me that they also believed in speaking in tongues. Having not experienced that in my life, I asked her how a person spoke in tongues. She told me that only those who had the gift of the Holy Ghost were able to speak in tongues. She said that speaking in tongues was the way a person knew if they had receieved the gift of the Holy Ghost. I asked her if she had received the Holy Ghost, and she told me she had not yet received it, but her mother had. I was very fascinated by their teachings, but I had been taught a different way of receiving the Holy Ghost.

We believe that the influence of the Holy Ghost can come upon anyone who is worthy. This influence can lead a person to truth, or warn them from danger. But this influence isn't permanent. We believe that in order to have the permanent gift of the Holy Ghost, we must first receive that gift by the laying on of hands by one holding the proper Priesthood authority. In the book of Acts, we read that Peter and John went to Samaria, and conferred the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands upon the members there. These members had already been baptized, but as yet had not received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

"14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost." Acts 8:14-17

Baptism is a prerequisite to receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Bible Dictionary of the LDS scriptures, in speaking about the role of the Holy Ghost, states, "More powerful than that which is available before baptism, it acts as a cleansing agent to purify a person and sanctify him from all sin. Thus it is often spoken of as "fire" John the Baptist taught, " I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Matt. 3: 11 )

After we have this "baptism of fire" spoken of in the scriptures, then we are entitled to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. However this gift is conditional upon our worthiness. In the Book of Mormon we are taught that "..the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples—" (Helaman 4: 24) If we want that constant companionship of the Holy Ghost to guide and direct us, we must live worthy of it.

So how does the Holy Ghost communicate with us? In the Doctrine and Covenants 8:2 we read, "Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart." Elder Boyd K. Packer further taught, " That sweet, quiet voice of inspiration comes more as a feeling than it does as a sound. Pure intelligence can be spoken into the mind. The Holy Ghost communicates with our spirits through the mind more than through the physical senses. This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings through promptings and impressions. We may feel the words of spiritual communication more than hear them and see with spiritual rather than with mortal eyes." (Boyd K. Packer, "Prayer and Promptings," Liahona, Nov 2009, 43–46)

The gift of the Holy Ghost is one of the greatest blessings in my life. I have had many experiences when I have received direct guidance through the gift of the Holy Ghost. I pray that I might always live in such as way as to be worthy to receive that guidance it gives.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quote of the Day: Richard C. Edgley

Bishop Richard C. Edgley
, a member of the Presiding Bishopric:

"To those who wonder how Christ fits into our theology and our personal lives, we testify that Christ is the Redeemer of the world. He is our Lord, our Light, and our Savior. He was ordained from on high to descend below all, to suffer above all! He is the focus of all that we teach and all we do. As a Church we are individual Christians, trying to prove our discipleship to the Savior. It is not an institutional matter; it is a personal matter" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 14; or Ensign, May 1998, 13 ).

Monday, April 26, 2010

Quote of the Day: George Albert Smith

George Albert Smith

“There is a line of demarcation well defined. On one side of the line is the Lord’s territory, and on the other side of the line is the devil’s territory. If you will stay on the Lord’s side of the line the devil cannot come over there to tempt you or to annoy or distress you. If you go onto the devil’s side of the line just one inch you are in his territory, you are in his power, and he will seek to draw you just as far from that line of demarcation, that division line, as he can, knowing that if he can keep you in his territory he has you in his power” (in George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1932, 27).

Mormon Messages: Seek Higher Ground

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Quote of the Day: Elder Richard G. Scott

Elder Richard G. Scott, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Our Eternal Father defined truth and established what is right and wrong before the creation of this earth. He also fixed the consequences of obedience and disobedience to those truths. He defined our right to choose our path in life so that we would grow, develop, and be happy, but we do not have the right to choose the consequences of our acts. Those who willfully, consistently disobey His commandments will inevitably learn that truth. Joseph Smith was inspired to record, ‘When we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated’ ( D&C 130:21 )” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 82; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 61 ).

Book of Mormon Sampler: 3 Nephi 27:3-8

3 Nephi 27:3-8

"3 And they said unto him: Lord, we will that thou wouldst tell us the name whereby we shall call this church; for there are disputations among the people concerning this matter.
4 And the Lord said unto them: Verily, verily, I say unto you, why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing?
5 Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day;
6 And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.
7 Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.
8 And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Conference Quotes: Elder David A. Bednar

Elder David A. Bednar:

"As gospel learners, we should be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). Our hearts are opened to the influence of the Holy Ghost as we properly exercise agency and act in accordance with correct principles—and we thereby invite His teaching and testifying power. Parents have the sacred responsibility to help children to act and to seek learning by faith. And a child is never too young to take part in this pattern of learning.

Giving a man a fish feeds him for one meal. Teaching a man to fish feeds him for a lifetime. As parents and gospel instructors, you and I are not in the business of distributing fish; rather, our work is to help our children learn “to fish” and to become spiritually steadfast. This vital objective is best accomplished as we encourage our children to act in accordance with correct principles—as we help them to learn by doing. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God” (John 7:17). Such learning requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception."

Click here to read the entire talk.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quote of the Day: David O. McKay "Baptism for the Dead"

David O. McKay:

"To repeat, if baptism is essential for one man, it is essential for all. Then the question may be asked as was asked by a Chinese student, a graduate of one of our leading colleges, who in conversation with a Protestant minister said, “What about my ancestors who never heard of the name of Jesus Christ?”

“Oh,” was the reply, “they are all lost.”

The Chinese student’s sense of justice was offended, for he immediately said, “I’ll have nothing to do with a religion so unjust!” Had that Chinese professor, or doctor, asked a Mormon elder that question, the latter would have answered, “They will have an opportunity to hear the gospel, and to be baptized, to be born of the water and of the Spirit, that they might also enter into the kingdom of God.”

What about your great-great ancestors who never have heard of the name of Jesus Christ? What about the millions who died without having heard his name? They are all our Father’s children as much as you and I. Is it the act of a loving Father to condemn them forever outside of the kingdom of God because they have had no opportunity to hear the name of Jesus Christ?

No, it is not. “We believe that … all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” And we also believe that those who have died without having heard the gospel here in mortality will have an opportunity to hear it in the other world.

Where did Christ’s spirit go while his body lay in the tomb? The apostle Peter tells us that he went to preach to the spirits who were in prison, who were once disobedient in the days of Noah when the ark was being prepared. (See 1 Pet. 3:19–20.) Those who died thousands of years ago were still living in the spirit world, and the gospel was taken to them as it will be taken to all of our Father’s children.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Conference Quotes: Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

"Scripture tutors us in principles and moral values essential to maintaining civil society, including integrity, responsibility, selflessness, fidelity, and charity. In scripture, we find vivid portrayals of the blessings that come from honoring true principles, as well as the tragedies that befall when individuals and civilizations discard them. Where scriptural truths are ignored or abandoned, the essential moral core of society disintegrates and decay is close behind. In time, nothing is left to sustain the institutions that sustain society."

To read more of this talk, click here.

Church Statistical Report: 2009

Church Units
Stakes 2,865
Missions 344
Districts 616
Wards and Branches 28,424

Church Membership
Total Church Membership 13,824,854
New Children of Record during 2009 119,722
Converts Baptized during 2009 280,106

Number of Full-Time Missionaries 51,736

Temples Dedicated during 2009
(Draper Utah and Oquirrh Mountain Utah)
Temples in Operation 130

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spiritual Protection

Elder Bernard P. Brockbank, who was then an Assistant to the Twelve, said:

“Proper sincere prayer to a living Father in heaven, through a living Savior and Mediator, is essential for protection from the power and evil influence of the devil” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 166; or Ensign, May 1974, 115 ).

Elder L.Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said of his upbringing:

“We were dressed in our home each morning, not only with hats and raincoats and boots to protect us from physical storm, but even more carefully our parents dressed us each day in the armor of God. As we would kneel in family prayer and listen to our father, a bearer of the priesthood, pour out his soul to the Lord for the protection of his family against the fiery darts of the wicked, one more layer was added to our shield of faith” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 140–41; or Ensign, May 1974, 98 ).

Elder Joe J. Christensen, then a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, said:

“Sending children out of your home without the spiritual protection of prayer is like sending them out into a blizzard without sufficient clothing” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 14; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 12 ).

Elder SpencerW. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“I like to compare the home evening, family prayer, and other associated activities of the Church for the saving of the family, when they are conscientiously carried out, with an umbrella. If the umbrella is not opened up, it is little more than a cane and can give little protection from the storms of nature. Likewise, God-given plans are of little value unless they are used” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1969, 23).

Combating Pornography: Replacing Darkness With Light

The Church has a new website designed to help people who are striving to overcome pornography addiction. You can view the site by clicking here. There are also some links on the site to read some church pamphlets that have been published on this subject. I might add that the church's "Addiction and Recovery" program, similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous program, has a special group for those who struggle with sex related addictions. For information on a group near you, contact the closest LDS Bishop. Our Stake also offers meetings held in Spanish.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Are Mormons Christian: Part 2

Here is a link to part 2 of "Mormon Insights" discussion about whether or not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christian. This is well thought out and well researched. I hope you will take a moment to read this great post.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Are Mormons Christian: A New Perspective

I ran across a wonderful blog by "Mormon Insights" about the subject of whether or not Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) are Christians. I've written about this many times, and spent much time defending our right to be called Christian. But this article focuses on the meaning of Christian as described in the Bible. Click here to read part 1 of this important discussion. I'm looking forward to part 2.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Mormons

Tonight "The Mormons" is airing on PBS. I tried to watch this once before, but didn't get through the entire thing. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to this time either. It's airing as I type, but I'm only half listening. I guess my problem is that within the first 30 seconds of the show, I found that this special is presented in the most skeptical way possible. There are some church authorities speaking who do add credibility, but most of the "scholars" they feature don't really have a deep understanding of our faith. Some of the scholars they feature are "former church scholars". For me, a member of the church, that reeks of "apostate". Not the best person to ask for information about our church. I guess my reason for writing this post is to encourage those who want to know about the church to ask a member, or visit a church website. Those who do not understand cannot give you a good understanding. Also, some of them are biased in their opinions. It would be sort of like asking a left wing liberal to explain the greatness of the right wing. They simply cannot do it without sarcasm, or biased arguments. The other thing that bothers me about this is that some of the events that they detail in this series, are ones that are very sacred to us. But they do not tell them in a sacred way, but in a critical way. I would say that if you want to really learn about our religion, click on this link to view some church produced videos. They are much more accurate.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Another Easter Gift: The Redemption of the Dead

Peter tells us that after His death, the Savior went to visit the spirits that were in prison in the spirit world. Why did the Savior visit the spirit world? Peter goes on to teach us that the Savior went to preach the gospel to those who had not received it. "By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;" 1 Peter 3:19 Isaiah, speaking messianically wrote, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; Isaiah 61:1 What were the "good tidings that He preached? Of course those good tidings were tidings of salvation. Through acceptance of the gospel message, the spirits were delivered from the prison that held them bound. John wrote, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." John 5:25 One might question if John was speaking about resurrection when he said that they that hear shall live. But resurrection is something that comes to all, regardless if they have heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this situation, the term "shall live" refers to spiritual salvation from sin.

Peter went on to teach, "For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." 1 Peter 4:6 Clearly, the dead were not only given the chance to hear the gospel, but to be judged according to the knowledge they gained while in the spirit world.

But as we learn from John, hearing the word is not enough to enter the kingdom of God. He wrote, "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:5 So what are the dead to do, who accept the gospel in the spirit world, but no longer have the chance to be baptized? The apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth to clear up their misunderstandings about the resurrection. Some of them believed there would be no resurrection. He wrote, "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" 1 Cor. 15:12 He went on to remind them, "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? 1 Corinthians 15:29 Paul knew that baptism for the dead was performed by members of the church, and his reminder to the saints at Corinth was that there was a purpose behind this baptism; that the dead would one day be judged, and would need the ordinance of baptism

While He was on the earth, the Savior gave His Priesthood authority to the apostles. He said, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:19 Baptism is one of the ordinances that would be bound in heaven through the priesthood authority on earth.

We, as Latter-day Saints, do our geneology to search out our kindred dead. We act as proxy for them in sacred temples to ensure that the saving ordinances, including baptism are performed on their behalf. In Malachi we read, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." Malachi 4:5,6 President Joseph Fielding Smith taught, "What was the promise made to the fathers that was to be fulfilled in the latter days by the turning of the hearts of the children to their fathers? It was the promise of the Lord made through Enoch, Isaiah, and the prophets, to the nations of the earth, that the times should come when the dead should be redeemed." (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. (1954-56) 2:154) Without the chance to have baptism performed in their behalf, those who never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ during mortality would not be able to gain salvation. The whole purpose of creating this earth would have been frustrated, and indeed, it would be as if it was smitten with a curse. I can testify that as we search out our ancestors, and perform these sacred work on their behalf, that our hearts are truly turned toward them. As they accept the gospel as it is preached to them, and as they accept the baptism by proxy as it is performed for them, they too can qualify to enter the kingdom of God. This was the "good news" preached to the spirits in prison. This is part of the good news of Easter.

Latter-Day Hymns: That Easter Morn

Text: Marion D. Hanks, b. 1921. © 1975 IRI

Music: Robert Cundick, b. 1926. © 1975 IRI

1. That Easter morn, a grave that burst
Proclaimed to man that “Last and First”
Had ris’n again
And conquered pain.

2. This morn renews for us that day
When Jesus cast the bonds away,
Took living breath
And conquered death.

3. Thus we in gratitude recall
And give our love and pledge our all,
Shed grateful tear
And conquer fear.

Humanitarian Aid

The Church is involved with many humanitarian projects. Here is a video about one of them. If you are interested in getting involved in other humanitarian projects that the church helps with, you can follow this link.
On that site is some information about kits that can be donated to the Church humanitarian efforts. These include: school kits, newborn infant kits, and hygiene kits. In the past, I have also been able to help make book bags and leper bandages. You can follow that link to get more information about how you can help.

Book of Mormon Sampler: The Atonement

Alma 34:8-16

8 And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
9 For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made.
10 For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.
11 Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay.
12 But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered; therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world.
13 Therefore, it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, and then shall there be, or it is expedient there should be, a stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled; yea, it shall be all fulfilled, every jot and tittle, and none shall have passed away.
14 And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.
15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.
16 And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Book of Mormon Sampler: The Resurrection

Alma 11:42-45
42 Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.
43 The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.
44 Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.
45 Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.

180th General Conference

Besides being Easter, this weekend is also the 180th annual general conference of the church. Sessions will be broadcast 9:00 a.m. Pacific time, and 1:00 a.m. Pacific time on both Saturday and Sunday. You can view this broadcast on BYU television which is aired by most satellite broadcasters. Or you can view it online by following this link.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

LDS Edition of the Spanish Bible

Recently the church came out with an LDS edition of the Spanish Bible. You can watch a video about the preservation of the Bible in Spanish by clicking this link. The LDS version of the Bible is the same as the King James Version, with the exception that it has been indexed, footnoted, and cross-referenced with our other LDS scripture.

Testimony of the Book of Mormon

What a powerful testimony!