Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The EET (Earliest Extant Transcripts) and my Sloppy Coppy

1. I'm so excited to share this.  Below is a message from Chris Hamill, who has asked for help in distributing this message.  Several months ago I had some impressions to seek out a copy of the Book of Mormon in Microsoft Word form.  Something that I could edit and do so fairly quickly using the "replace" editing tool.  I felt prompted to make a "translation" that my kids could read a little more readily that used language they were familiar with.  I hoped to share my love of it and hopefully spark some love for it in them too.  In asking around for such a copy, I was connected to Chris Hamill, who shared with me that he was working on this extensive project described below.  In my religious tradition I have tended to hold fast to the "as long as it is translated correctly" to the 8th Article of Faith.  And I tended to believe that no other Bible beyond the KJV would do, neglecting the fact that Joseph Smith was commanded extensively to work on a new translation of the Bible.  The Bible is not intended to be a stumbling block between faiths, nor is it to be an idol to worship as we seek to discover God. As there are countless languages in the world, it seems appropriate to me that it would serve us well to get as close to the original intent of the scriptures as possible, but that cannot always be done with definitive language.  The scriptures are to describe spiritual concepts in physical terms, which is really difficult, if not sometimes impossible in this world.  But there is something important about discovering the original intent of the speaker of the words in scriptures, and unfortunately adulteration happens over time, as our language changes.  Chris and his friends have sought to overcome some of the adulteration that has happened, and help us as readers get more acquainted with the original intent and words of the earliest copies of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures revealed through Joseph Smith.  The information below describes their efforts in their own words. 

A small group of us has spent most of the year going through the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, reaching back to the original manuscripts to get as true a version of what Joseph offered us as possible and showing what changes have happened since his death. We are getting bids to have a triple combination volume printed in the coming months. For the moment we want to make people aware of this effort. Electronic versions of the scriptures are free for download at
anoffenderforaword.blogspot.com in Word, PDF and some ebook formats. There are also instructions for using a Kindle reader or app with the PDFs as an ebook. The PDFs give a clear representation of how the volume will look.
We will notify everyone when orders can be placed for your own copies. We are trying to keep the cost to around $20 per copy. These will be printed on biblestock paper and will have large margins for easy note taking. An effort to produce a complete JST bible is also underway. A complete Kindle JST KJV is available by Ken Lutes on Amazon. He is the one working on a complete print version. When that work is ready to order we will let you know. He is not a part of this movement.
This volume of scripture is not official to the Remnant Movement in any sense, and we hope they may be of interest to Mormons of all types. While many of us felt inspired during the process, we offer this volume as a gift to our Lord and to our friends and families. Feel free to take this work and improve on it.
2. As I described above, months ago I was prompted to create a revision for my children.  In receiving a copy from Chris, I began doing some edits of words to essentially create a 2016 language friendly copy of the Book of Mormon.  The Bible has dozens of editions in languages to help readers read and understand it.  There are copies for children, teenagers, and people of multiple languages.  It seemed peculiar to me that the Book of Mormon had never seen such a revision for children or teenagers, although it has been translated to multiple languages.  As I began editing the MS Word copy, someone shared on a FB Group that there were two other copies on the market, edited for easy readability for readers who needed help understanding the big words. One is here and the other is here.  There may be more.  I purchased both and set my project aside, thinking the work I intended to do had already been squared away by someone else... times two!

It wasn't until a few months passed that I felt to open up one of the copies I purchased, and I discovered that I didn't appreciate the interpretation that the one copy held of the concept I was studying.  It held a current LDS view of the Holy Spirit, while the original Book of Mormon holds a different view, which is the one that Joseph Smith explained in the Lectures on Faith.  The new edition did exactly what we avoid translations for the purpose of doing.  It changed the meaning to fit our current paradigm, while not holding to the original intent.  It absolutely LOST the spiritual meaning in favor of a completely morphicized (I just made that word up) view.

In trying to create my own translation for my kids, I see how difficult this is. It's really impossible to create a translation that everyone will like, agree with, or appreciate.  But there is absolutely a richness I discovered when taking that original file, and editing it for my own purposes, and trying to do so while seeking to maintain the original spiritual intent.  Mormon... that dude had quite a task!  Some examples of things I did in my version:

  • Changed "ye" to "you.
  • Changed "thee" to "thou". 
  • Removed the "-eth" suffixes of as many words as I could find.
  • Removed ALL punctuation. 
  • Removed "and it came to pass" and replaced with "and so then". (I discovered that "and so then" is very redundant, but it also speeds up the reading as I don't get stopped up by it as I did with the prior words.  I use "so" a lot in my day-to-day language.)  
I'm currently contemplating what to do with "behold", as it's frequently used but seems to have multiple meanings.  It brings me, as the reader, to the point of stopping and questioning why these words were chosen.  It also shows language patterns, especially when certain phrases are used repeatedly in connection with a certain concept.  It has been a rich, rich experience which only unfolds more open to me.  

So I'm going to add, when time allows, links on this site to download your own digital copy of the work Chris and the gang have done.  But I HIGHLY encourage you to mark it up!  Save it once as an original, then choose how you'd like to edit it (if at all) and save it again as a new version.  Let it broaden your love for the message.  The purpose of this book, which Nephi says right at the beginning his intent is to bring us to Christ.  How awesome is that?!?!?!  Fall in love with the characters and their hearts, and get to know them.  

And finally, I kept asking, as I made my edits, if this is something that could be shared.  I don't know that my edits will be useful to anyone else.  But I did decide to share them as I go.  This will likely be a project that I fail at.  So don't commit me to being perfect at this.  But I'm going to go chapter by chapter and translate it for my children.  I'll be sharing them at a basic site located here: [edit] http://simplebookofmormon.blogspot.com/.  It is a sloppy copy!  I have intentionally misspelled "Sloppy Coppy" to illustrate that is it absolutely NOT perfect.  But it has helped me, and I suppose it may help some readers who are dyslexic, who get slowed down by punctuation, or who really need to loosen their shoe's lachets a bit if you know what I mean as they read for content over grammar.  I DARE you to print out the pages of the EET linked above, chapter by chapter, and mark them up.  Use them for advanced study.  I can't imagine the Lord would be displeased in the efforts to get to understand these riches further, even if we got a few words wrong.  Use it well my friends! 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Lundbergs vs Peggy Fletcher Stack

I'd like to share an amalgamation of posts, one of which has lit some coals back on fire this week.  If you choose to read one and comment, please don't neglect the others so you can get the whole picture.

The awesome view of Gary and Joy Lundberg, promoted via LDS owned LDS Mag, found here.  This one was so good I was ready to flex my muscles and throw my chair across the room.

Versus the ever annoying antagonist, Peggy Fletcher Stack article, found here.

My vote: come out and dish the truth. Do it all at once, everything you can squash into a weekend of General Conference. Stop sugar coating everything and stop letting the people who don't "sustain" this be sent to their Stake Presidents to reveal their concerns. Stop tearing families apart because some can't handle your dishonesty in your manuals while others have been trained to follow the manual at all costs, even dividing their families. Do it all together and make sure as many hear it as possible so you don't have members fighting with one another in class, or 75 year old widows scolding 37 year old moms in the hall because they say a comment about these things in class that the elder has not read!  Just be honest! Or like the second article says, in 2-3 years you'll have way too many young people leaving the church, either to fully discover God without a middle man, or to turn away from what you've made him to be altogether.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

My Victory, by Crowder

We sang this song in church today.  Then I heard it again on the radio.  I love it.  I invite you to sing along if you feel so moved.  Additionally I love hearing the Irish dude chime in. :)  


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Transparency

Time has been so short of late.  So much ruckus going on in the world; so many things to consider.  So much in the news and so much in the scriptures.  As I watched the tail end of the Presidential Debate last night between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I realized how easy it is to be confused by the news, and therefore the truth of which way is up and which way is down.  Good is so often called evil, and evil called good.  One thing that cannot be adulterated, however, are the heavens.

Untouchable, immovable by the finger of man, the stars, moon, and sun cannot be changed to our liking.  We cannot adulterate them, their positioning, or their rotation.  The Lord has said that the lights in the firmament are to be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years (Genesis 1:14).  So what have we of signs of late?  Of seasons?

Last week marked the turning of the autumnal equinox.  It was fun because at our home we studied this "corner of the earth" during science class with my new homeschooler.  Neither of us could say "autumnal equinox" very well without getting tongue tied.  I was grateful that our little nature science book called it to attention, because otherwise I might not have given it much thought.

Joseph was visited by the angel called Nephi (in my opinion, despite the bulk of the LDSs believing it is Moroni) on the night of September 21, 1823.  I will summarize the key points of the message Joseph was given, however I acknowledge this will not do the message justice.  So I am simply highlighting for brevity.  This can be found in the Joseph Smith History 1: 30-54.

  • Joseph's name would be had for good and evil throughout the world.
  • There was a book deposited written on gold plates, giving the account of those who lived on THIS continent, and contained the fulness of the Everlasting Gospel as delivered by Christ to these people. 
  • There was also something called the Urim and Thummim deposited with the plates, which were "seers" used for translating the book. 
  • He quoted Malachi 3 and 4, and cited some critical points differently than in the King James Version.  (Another post on that...)
  • He quoted Isaiah 11, saying it was about to be fulfilled. 
  • He quoted Acts 3: 22-23 exactly as the KJV.  Declared that prophet was Christ. 
  • He quoted Joel 2:28-end.  Said it was not yet fulfilled but would soon be. 
  • Said the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in.  
  • He quoted many other passages of scripture, explaining much. 
  • He gave instructions regarding the plates. 
If that isn't a download of vast information I don't know what is.  But after leaving, again Nephi returned again, and again, and again.  

During the second visit he added a warning of great judgments coming to the earth.  

During the third visit the previous was recited, with an addition that Satan would try to tempt him to use the plates for growing in wealth.  He was warned to not use them for any other motive than building his (God's) kingdom.

During the fourth visit, everything was recited AGAIN, with the addition of instruction to go share the message with his father, Joseph Smith, Sr. 

Joseph describes in his history that it took four years of visiting the hill where the plates were deposited before he was able to remove the contents that were buried there.  Still, it was the night of September 21, 1827 when he retrieved them.  

In the Jewish way of thinking, the new day begins at sundown.  Joseph was visited by the Israelite, Nephi, on the autumnal equinox.  I'm not a calendar genius, however I'd suggest that we Americans label this time as September 21, and an Israelite might reference the Hebrew calendar's recognition for September 22.  

Interesting things transpired on this end of the Jubilee year.  

  • I am told that September 22 is the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, according to those who use the stars/heavens to recognize the holy days.  (Thanks, Melissa and Jonathan for the tips!)  This is the festival, the holy days remembered as an ordinance from year to year by the Jews, in recognition of the Exodous out of Egypt.  It began this year on September 16, which date also witnessed a penumbral lunar eclipse. 
  • In Utah, in the north of the state, near Ogden, there was reportedly an F1 tornado. 
  • In Utah, in the south of the state, near Panguitch, there was also reportedly an F1 tornado. 
  • In Utah, in Salt Lake City, a new skyscraper was dedicated on the very date of September 22, 2016.  It is reportedly built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' subsidiary named City Creek Reserve.  Let's examine it a bit.  Feel free to break to read it: http://www.sltrib.com/news/4386439-155/new-mormon-church-owned-skyscraper-brings-high  
Some points of concern for me regarding the skyscraper: 
  • Address is 111 Main.  111 is often called an "angel number".  The number 1 symbolizes God the Father.  Repeated three times symbolizes resonance of that number, as well as Father, Son, Holy Ghost.  Main street denotes the primary street in town, the center of the town.  A vast number of towns in America have this street name somewhere running through them.  The repetition of the number one reminds me of other numbers with scriptural references which are repeated three times.  
  • It is 24 stories high, totaling 387 feet high.  In average sized building standards, this would be aprox. 38 stories.  
  • "It is clear Salt Lake City has a new icon," said Mayor Jackie Biskupski, "and this is just the beginning."  The definition of "icon", per Google: 
1.a painting of Jesus Christ or another holy figure, typically in a traditional style on wood, venerated and used as an aid to devotion in the Byzantine and other Eastern Churches. synonyms: image, idol, portrait, picture, representation, likeness, symbol, sign; 2. a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something. "this iron-jawed icon of American manhood" synonyms: idol, paragon, hero, heroine
  • "City Creek Reserve declined to share the cost of 111 Main. But a similarly sized tower just down the street, 222 Main, sold for $170.5 million in 2014, a record price for downtown real estate at the time." 
  • "For Mormons, "this is sacred ground," Caussé said before leading the crowd of about 100 people in prayer."  Caussé is the Presiding Bishop of the LDS Church. 
Soooooooooooooooooooooooo.  Let me put some Chlorox in our muddy water of what's going on here.  

On the autumnal equinox, the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the largest denomination which hails Joseph as their leader and dispensation head decides to dedicate a building, a "Tower", mighty high and mighty expensive, (which are edifices NEVER spoken of in positive terms in any scripture,) only available to the "high end" customer to rent?  And two tornadoes blow through the north and south ends of the state, covered with a high population of Mormons?  

Am I missing any other signs?  

It would do the reader well to study the book of Malachi, as well as Hugh Nibley's Approaching Zion, which can be found and read online with a simple Google Search.  (EXCEPTIONAL book.)  Malachi in particular is a warning to the priests and teachers of Malachi's day.  They were scolded for their misuse of tithing funds, having robbed God with the tithes and offerings.  I suppose the tornado was indeed a sign.  It might have been more shocking and startling had the tornado ripped through the city center during the dedication, but God love and cares for his chickens children, ever covering them with his wings.  I don't understand all the signs, the turning of the seasons, or what it all means.  But He does.  Hopefully we can use these signs as just that: signs.  Not flukes of nature, or random occurrences.

In all the earth, when Christ was born, the only individuals who know of his birth without being informed by heavenly messengers or visions were the wise men.  They knew how to find Him because of the new star.  It would be wise to be informed, to study, and to pay attention to these things.  In asking, God can explain it to us, and let us know how to be prepared ourselves to travel from afar, should it be needed.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wheat and Tares

This afternoon my heart was pondering on the symbolism of the wheat and the tares.  Jesus shares a parable, which we have quoted in Matthew 13:30, which highlights what will happen to the "weeds" among us.

30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
My memory remembers this parable particularly well, and in my mind I always envision a field of wheat, which has been overrun by tares.  Due to the instructions of the parable, I view the separating that is to come as is narrated in Matthew.  However I never stopped to consider particulars.  For example, in the verse above, the tares are first gathered, bound and burned.  And meanwhile, the wheat is separated out and gathered into the owner's barn.

D&C 86:7 shares more thoughts on the concept.  

Therefore, let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest is fully ripe; then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tares, and after the gathering of the wheat, behold and lo, the tares are bound in bundles, and the field remaineth to be burned.
In pondering whether I am a wheat or a tare this afternoon, I remembered the line "separate the wheat from the tares".  Looking more critically, there is a field, overrun with tares.  But in this verse revealed from the Lord through Joseph Smith, we receive instruction and clarification on the idea presented in the parable.  The wheat is gathered first.  "Then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tares, and after the gathering of the wheat..."

When I have heard members of various churches refer to this sifting that is coming, the common undertone of the idea is that when someone leaves a church for any reason, they are a weak tare.  They are obviously not elect, not celestial, not worthy of enduring the refiner's fire.  But what if the Lord, in His mercy, is doing the gathering already?  Is it possible that He is removing the wheat from the tares which have overrun His church?

Wheat is the substance of which bread is made.  It is called the "staff of life" in D&C 89.  In opposition to the tares, it bears fruit which gives life, rather than thorns which injure, puncture, and wound.  When someone suggests that your beliefs may classify you as a tare, be girded up in your mind and heart.  Consider the tender mercies of the Lord in gathering the wheat from among the tares, whoever they may be.

God bless the wheat to receive sufficient nourishment to survive the day of the burning which is at hand.

With love,
~Jen:)  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cogs and Ribbons

I'm dedicating this post to my dear friend, Leslie.  

Recently I was pondering why some people enjoy being called to repentance and others do not.  I believe the difference is a broken heart.

A hard heart is impenetrable.  Through years of hardening, it is incapable of being broken.  It is a force to be reckoned with, and nothing, not meekness, love, passion, integrity, anger or force will break it or penetrate it.  

A soft heart is breakable.  It can only be broken by permission.  CHOICE.  It too is a force to be reckoned with.  It thrives on being pricked, allowing the darkness and sin to escape out through experiences, and begs for cleansing and healing waters.  It receives fullness with meekness, love, passion, integrity, and joy.  And so much LOVE.

I was also pondering what it means to a soul to have experienced a broken heart, and contrite spirit.  

Whereas those who have not experienced a broken heart are impenetrable, those who have experienced a broken heart are easily broken, again and again.  And yet while they are broken, they long to be put back together again.  They long for their darkness to be poked out through their holes, whether it be God doing the poking or other humans.  When they find themselves offended, they are more willing to be put back together through forgiveness.  Hard hearts refuse to forgive.



When our hearts are broken and put back together, and we unite in community with others whose hearts are broken and put back together, we become like cogs in a wheel.  We make up one great whole, which operates the unit, although as a cog we may not even know that we are functioning as one, at least not yet.  Without our individual rivets and divots, we would not function together.  But with our unique shapes and forms, talents and blessings, put together we rotate as one – or ONE.  

And then there are what my friend Leslie calls "ribbons of love".  I believe when we will be sealed through the power of the Holy Spirit, it will be also done with literal ribbons of love.  Just as God spoke and the word "was" a literal thing, so is love a literal thing, although most of us cannot see it with our eyes.  These ribbons of love connect us, wrap around us, and the extend to others.  Some may call these ribbons by different names.  Energy workers call them "cords".  Christians may call them "workings of the Spirit".  We use different names but the principle is the same.  Invisible ties that "bind" or "seal" or form connections that are invisible yet present nonetheless.  

Zion will be formed by those who have received or experienced a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  And then our hearts will connected with these ribbons.  We will CHOOSE to be like cogs in a wheel, not forced to work together, but individual units who find pleasure and purpose in fitting together.  Whether it be our spouse, or others in this society, I see that Zion – the pure in heart – will connect like cogs in a wheel.  Freestanding on their own, but when connected they are very powerful indeed.  

With this new experience of broken hearts and contrite spirits, we have a responsibility to actively take our frustrations and discords out of our relationships.  Should we be frustrated with a fellow broken-hearted friends, I believe those who are truly broken will receive the disagreement with meekness and gratitude for the correction.  The Lord chastens those He loves, and sometimes He uses us mortals to help one another along these paths.  

I believe it is by this we may know whose spirits have been born again.  We will be able to receive correction, chastening, and calls to repentance with gladness, so long as the sins are legitimate and the correction is not intended to destroy, badger, or control.  And I believe by this we will recognize fellow members of the Lord's family because of the fruits of a contrite spirit and broken heart.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pure Faith

Last year on this day I was enticed to spend a year focusing on love.  Pure love of Christ.  I know I haven't been perfect at it, but I feel like grace has been given to me, to rise and increase in the amount of love I have been able to give, receive, and nurture.  It's truly been a blessed year.

This morning when I asked where I should read, I was led to Ether 12:14-15:

Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost. 
Behold, it was the faith of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites.
The last few days have been tumultuous here.  Emotions have run high, and tension has nearly matched it.  I find it beautiful that the Lord led me to these verses first thing in my day.  My faith has been lacking.

I tend to believe that while the Lord has awakened me from a deep sleep, it is unlikely that He will awaken those I love.  I tend to forget that He is all wise, all merciful, all knowing.  He knows when people need to awaken.  He knows I also need to exert and grow in faith.  So while the past year I spent hyper-focused on LOVE, I hope that this coming year I can focus on FAITH and see if by my faith I might find those I love encounter baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.  And perhaps even miracles like those witnessed among the Lamanites.

ROCK ON.  Let's bring down those walls, baby!


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Heart Singing

Today in church we sang this song.  Oh how my heart sings with it.


This afternoon I got to hear "Sister Sally" share her witness of Yeshua.  I haven't finished it yet but have heard about half so far.  My heart is also singing with some of the new things I learned, particularly how Jesus will speak to us in our learning language.

For example, if we are visual learners, we may learn through visions or dreams.  If we are auditory learners, we may learn through audible lessons.  People who are kinesthetic learners may learn through feeling and touch.  WOW!  What a rich insight!!!  I never considered this before.  Perhaps I ought to more intensely explore my own gifts and talents and expect that I may find Jesus waiting there for me.  I highly recommend giving her witness a listen.

From the song above, Even So Come, by Chris Tomlin:

All of creation
All of the earth
Make straight a highway
A path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon
Call back the sinner
Wake up the saint
Let every nation shout of Your fame
Jesus is coming soon
Like a bride waiting for her groom
We'll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
There will be justice
All will be new
Your name forever
Faithful and true
Jesus is coming soon
Like a bride waiting for her groom
We'll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You're coming soon
So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You're coming soon
LOVE!!!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

In the Attitude of Self Righteousness

In my opinion alone, 

I believe the typical atmosphere of Sunday School, Relief Society and Priesthood classes lends to an attitude of contention, self-righteousness, and pride.  I confess I am guilty of these heinous sins and contributing wholeheartedly.  

The constant need to explain our own interpretations of scripture or feel-good quotes lends to the natural belief that our interpretation of the matter at hand is the best and correct one.  We take pride in offering the most unique and thoughtful explanation which no one has considered before.  We do this on a weekly basis, for two hours.  And then some of us go a step further and take it to online forums.  

When we suppose weekly for two hours that our correct interpretation is better than the interpretation of the person next to us, our beloved brother or sister, we fill our hearts with pride.  We place enmity between us, and our heart is grows harder.  

Add to this the preceding hour of talk & testimony of participating in the "one true church" which is more special, peculiar, and wonderful than the church across the way and we have a beautiful, luscious, delicious recipe for pride, haughtiness, and self-righteousness.  We have found and thereby now possess it all!  We have no need for more light, knowledge, or progression.  I don't think that's what the Lord intended when He called us his church.  And I don't know that that compliment still holds true.  Should He join us in our meetings, would He approve of our discussions? 

"They draw near unto me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."  

Not a one of us is guiltless.  At least not this one.  

Bravo, saints.  Bravo, one true church.   

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Voice after the Destruction

My children and I were studying 3 Nephi 9 tonight.  We have been sloshing through 3 Nephi at a snail's pace, which is actually great because it has allowed me to really study these verses so closely. Tonight I noticed a pattern in this chapter.  Some things of note: 

  • There were 15 cities destroyed, which are described by name by the Voice, Who speaks to the remaining inhabitants of the land.
  • The city names of those destroyed or changed are Zarahemla, Moroni, Moronihah, Gilgal, Onihah, Mocum, Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, Gimgimno, Jacobugath, Laman, Josh, Gad, and Kishkumen.  
  • Zarahemla was the Nephite capital.
  • Moroni was named after Captain Moroni.
  • Moronihah was likely named after Moroni's son, Moronihah.
  • Laman, named after first Lamanite leader. 
  • Kishkumen was one of the first participants in the development of secret combinations preceding the destruction of the government prior to Christ's visits. 
The number 15 is significant.  The most prominent thing that comes to mind is the 15 leaders of the LDS Church whom are considered and sustained as "prophets, seers, and revelators".  

These phrases of destruction are repeated: 
  • I have burned with fire (vs. 3)
  • I have caused to be sunk in the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof to be drowned (vs 4)
  • I have covered with earth (vs 5) 
  • I have caused to be sunk, and the inhabitants thereof to be buried up (vs 6)
  • I have caused to come up in the stead thereof (waters) (vs 7)
  • I caused to be sunk, and made hills and valleys in the places thereof (vs 8)
  • I buried up (the inhabitants) in the depths of the earth (vs 8)
  • I caused to be burned with fire (vs 9)
  • I did cause them to be burned (vs 9)
  • I caused to be burned with fire (vs 10)
  • I did send down fire and destroy them (vs 11)
  • And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land (vs 12)
A tally of the above yields these stats: 
  • Burned: Zarahemla, Jacobugath (where secret combinations were housed), Laman, Josh, Gad, Kishkumen = 6 cities
  • Sunk into water: Moroni, Gilgal, Onihah, Mocum, Jerusalem = 4 cities
  • Sunk into valleys and hills: Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, Gimgimno = 4 cities
  • Covered with earth: Moronihah - 1 city
However of most note is the repetition of this line, in various forms, which is the answer of why the destruction happened: 
  • Because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people (vs 2)
  • Because of their iniquity and abominations (vs 2)
  • To hide their iniquities and abominations from before my face (vs 5)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come any more unto me against them (vs 5)
  • To hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face (vs 7)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come up any more unto me against them (vs 7)
  • To hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face (vs 8)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up any more unto me against them (vs 8)
  • Because of their sins and their wickedness, which was above all the wickedness of the whole earth (vs 9)
  • Because of their secret murders and combinations (vs 9)
  • For it was they that did destroy the peace of my people and the government of the land (vs 9)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up unto me any more against them (vs 9)
  • Because of their wickedness in casting out the prophets, and stoning those whom I did send to declare unto them concerning their wickedness and their abominations (vs 10)
  • Because they did cast them all out, that there were none righteous among them (vs 11)
  • That their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face (vs 11)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them (vs 11)
  • Because of their wickedness and their abominations (vs 12)
When I read verses with children they tend to tune out when the same lines are repeated over and over.  So it is peculiar to me that the Voice repeats the culpability of each city, name by name, with details of each one individually.  As though each city were a child, asking, "What have I done wrong?"

It is also curious that these are the very first words the people hear from the Voice.  A line by line explanation of what has happened to them, and why.  Prophets, saints, and those sent are listed jointly in some combination six times.  Abominations are listed seven times.  Wickedness listed eight!!! times.  Iniquities listed twice.  Sin listed once.  Blood of prophets (PLURAL) and saints (PLURAL) listed five times.  All repeated in detail.    

Additionally, when I think of these things that are worthy of destruction, I tend to lump them all into one big issue.  But why would the Voice break them down so many times?  Does sin = iniquity?  Does iniquity = wickedness?  Does wickedness = abominations?  And do murders = combinations?  Or do combinations = murder?  If "wickedness" is listed eight times, it would be interesting to discover all the other verses in the Book of Mormon where "wickedness" is used as an adjective, and explore what was going on to merit that descriptor.     

How would it be to do a case study on each city, and discover its personality?  I know off hand that the city of Moroni was quite literally on the beach, in the south-east, much like modern-day Florida.  And it was sunken.  And the city of Moroni's son, Moronihah, the great military leader, covered with dirt.  Where the choices of destruction significant?  

But despite all this, 
"O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins and be converted that I may heal you?  Yea verily I say unto you if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life!  Behold mine arm of mercy is extended towards you and whosoever will come, him will I receive and blessed are those who come unto me.  Behold I am Jesus Christ the Son of God."  - 3 Nephi 9:13-15 (part), punctuation changed

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Pure Love of Christ

Moroni 7: 47-48
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
I have fallen in love with Moroni 7 this week.  The entire chapter seems to be written in reverse.  Today I feel to highlight these verses above.  I never seem to have time or words to do this verse justice, but feel it's important to put this out there.

If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, you have been blessed with being filled with this love.

What love?  The pure love of Christ.

If you have not yet received it, pray unto the Father with all the energy of your heart to receive it.

As can be seen by studying the entire chapter, this pure love of Christ is the basis upon which faith to move mountains is built.  

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

Remembering Jesus this Memorial Day.  Hope yours is memorable.  We remember the fallen.

Our freedom was paid for with a great price.  We are redeemed, the debt paid, the burden forgiven.  Of all the fallen warriors, I celebrate Him.  Thank you, Jesus.       

Monday, May 16, 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Reborn

Tonight I experienced an awakening moment, where a lot of things came together in blinding realization.

In the Book of Mormon we read about those who experienced the baptism of fire.  They knew it not, because it happened so gradually upon them.  My ah-ha moment came in considering the nature of the covenant of baptism (or rebaptism), and wondering to what degree my soul has been baptized.

When we are baptized, we make a visual expression of our acceptance of Jesus, our commitment to him, and our desire to have our sins cleansed and remitted.

Following (re)baptisms in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 11), immediately Jesus teaches the saints how to participate in the emblems of his body and blood.  With all of this there is to be no disagreement nor contention.  In the prayer we illustrate to God that we seek and commit to eat and drink these emblems to "always remember him".  Always is a big deal.  It sounds to me like a pretty serious commitment, especially if it's a COVENANT.  

As I drove home tonight a song came on the radio that is quite an immoral song.  While I try not to be too judgmental, this song glorifies rape and defilation of chastity.  I listened to the catchy tune, the swinging and volleying of pitch.  I remembered seeing a favorite comedian of mine sing this same song with his entertaining band.  Then I remembered an awards show where the band (not the comedian, but the original group) was included in raunchy demonstrations before the crowd, which I can only assume the participants were deluded, drugged, or possessed to do with their bodies what they were doing publicly.  As my mind started getting disgusted that I'm still listening to this song, almost as if he read my mind, my son turned the channel.  Thank you Jesus.

Why did this song turn me off?  Over the last year I hardly have ever been able to listen to it.  In fact, I can hardly listen to any pop music any longer, for many, many months.  Why?

My ah-ha was realizing I have been reborn.  I have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.  I have been redeemed, and can no longer tolerate drooping in sin.  The degradation of women, the glorification of sex, drugs, and defiling of anything that is good is no longer tolerable, even for a few moments.

Not that I want or seek to judge those who do.  And not that I did anything of my own merit or righteousness.  But my spirit, my body, and everything pertaining to it has been changed, that it can't withstand these things before feeling like a dog turning to its vomit.  It is repulsive.  Intolerable.  Insufferable.

There is no more tolerance for my personal willful, or blind participation in sin.  I have committed to always remember Him, and choose out of the nonsense.  I can't just zone out and ignore it like I used to.

For this reason I have not been able to peacefully attend church while honoring my conscience.  I have been incapable of acting like I am ok with settling for the doctrine to be defiled.  It's not that I don't want to see my friends, or associate with those I love.  It's that I cannot do it in that venue.  It would be breaking the covenant and I can't do it anymore, despite missing those loved ones.  Only should the Lord direct could I begin again to do so.

Further, I have not been able to pretend that the small things don't matter.  They do.  Where much is given much is required.  Many are called but few are chosen.  How does one be chosen?

So what to do now?  I wait upon the Lord for further light and knowledge.  I hope that by abiding this commitment He will bestow upon me, my family, and those who are wondering what in the world I am doing, great blessings.

Like Inigo Montoya says in The Princess Bride, "I am waiting for you Vizzini!"  "I am waiting for you Jesus!"  Only Vizzini was dead by then, and Jesus is risen, so I can have much more confidence than Inigo had.  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Praying Vocally

"So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt.  It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty.  It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally."
When Joseph Smith read James' invitation to ask God for help when we lack wisdom, he felt open invitation to pray vocally.  (See Joseph Smith History 1:14-15.)  In my life I believe I have prayed hundreds of times vocally, however there is one unique thing the next verse illustrates.

"After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God." 
There was something unique about this experience, and I suppose it was not necessarily that this was Joseph's first spoken prayer.  I struggle to imagine him not ever praying, and perhaps that is the truth, but it seems that this prayer was unique in that it contained vocal desires of his heart.

Praying vocally can be very superficial, in my experience.  We are taught from a young age the important parts of prayer, almost like we are taught in school the important parts of composing a letter.

We address the letter: "Dear Father,"

Then we fill in the body, which in Mormonism is like this: "Thank you for this day."  We then instruct to fill in more blanks, like "Thank you for this food..."

To develop the body of the prayer we are taught to ask for things.  Like "Please bless this chocolate cake to nourish and strengthen our bodies." ;)

Then, just like in a letter, we close with an ending.  Letters often end with "Sincerely," but in prayer we are taught to close "In the name of Jesus Christ," as though Jesus were conveying these words in agreement to the Father.

Joseph didn't have any of this structure requirements when he went to pray.  He simply felt the invitation strongly to pray in a place where he could have some privacy to not feel like a buffoon for anyone witnessing his first vocal, heartfelt prayer.

He previously planned where he would pray.  It was a safe and sacred space for him, which he surely anticipated would allow a safe space to vent his emotions in prayer.

He also knew what he wanted to ask.  It was something important to him, and he had pondered and mulled through it greatly.

Then he pulled his desires out of his heart and offered it up to God.
"I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart..." 
Unique to this prayer vs many of my own was the demonstration of vocal chords.  It took both the physical effort as well as the heart connection.  It also contained thoughtful pondering.

In verse 25 of Joseph's personal history he observes, "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."

The fascinating part of this is that Joseph's prayer was physical in every way.  We have the location, and the vocal, recordable nature of it.  We know he knelt down too.  But yet the vision which unfolds is described as a "vision".  It is otherworldly.  Two Personages appear to him, light brighter than the sun (vs 16), and whose brightness and glory defy all description.  And they stood in the air, which mortals don't do.  Why were they standing in the air?  Why did Jesus look up to heaven when he prayed?  Perhaps because the Father prefers that we look up.

In the book, "The Slight Edge," Jeff Olson discusses some insights regarding effects of the simple act of looking down vs up.
"Take a comfortable, seated position and look down at the floor.  Then, without changing position, take the next five minutes to think about your life.  Anything and everything, whatever that means to you, just think about your life.  
Go ahead and do that now...
Now, clear your mind, walk around a minute, then come back and do the second half: Take the same comfortable, seated position, only this time tilt your head up so you're looking at the ceiling.  Spend the next five minutes thinking about your life.  Anything and everything, whatever that means to you, just think about your life.  
Go ahead and do that now... 
I don't know what results you had, but here's what most people find: when looking down, it's pretty hard not to start thinking about the past. When gazing upward, it's pretty hard not to start thinking about the future." (p.149)
Thinking of Joseph's prayer alongside this experiment, I find it wonderful to consider what it might look like to pray vocally with my heart, while looking up, eyes open as Jesus demonstrated.  If looking up lends to considering the future, it seems complimentary that Joseph received instruction about his future.  There was much more which he wasn't able to report from this experience, (vs.20) which would be fun to ask God about.  But one more thing that I note is that looking up requires faith.  We spend so much time looking down to watch our step, our surroundings and to pick up things that are set down, that it is rare to simply look up at the clouds, the roof, the trees, the universe.  To look up while walking requires faith and trust that the path is safe, that the body knows how to carry on forward without tripping over itself, and that one will not fall into a ditch by so doing.  I suggest the same attitude is applicable in prayer.



What would the skeleton look like of a soul who spends a lifetime looking up?  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

One with Authority

Recently I was led to read this verse:

"And now, if I have no authority for these things, judge ye; for ye shall know that I have authority when ye shall see me, and we shall stand before God at the last day.  Amen." - Ether 5:6
This verse comes at the tail end of a very short interlude in Ether, where Moroni throws in some few instructions regarding the plates.  Being led to read this verse outside of any other verse, it was compelling.  He testifies to me, the reader, that I will stand before God at the last day with him, and I will see him, and I will recognize by sight that this man has authority.  Not feigned authority, nor solely supposed authority.  Not just a signature or legal document of such as we do for government and legal affairs.  But real authority, meaning there is something powerful he holds and has received from one worthy to give such authority, which gives him jurisdiction to speak these things and have the words mean something.  Just as the elements honor God's authority, this authority will likewise be honored by the elements which abide by the laws of Truth that govern the universe.

It reminded me of a testimony shared by Matthew Crockett on his blog, in the 4-5th full paragraph (with multiple sentences) from the bottom of the page.

If I'm not mistaken, it appears to me that these figures from the Book of Mormon have stepped into increasing relevance.  The curse which was laid unto the 3rd and 4th generation from Joseph's time has begun to be cleared.  The readers who have slept and are willing to wake up are being awoken, and these men (and women, we must suppose) are stepping into the forefront, or perhaps they are simply being observed more frequently.  I can't say what is going on for sure, beyond to witness that I believe this is true.  They testify of the authority which they have been given, and we will likely see and hear more of them in the coming days, and at very least all readers will stand before God and Moroni at the last day, whenever that might be.  As one of my favorite college professors used to say, "Buckle your seatbelts!"  This should be fun! :) 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Revolting at that which is of God

I found this thought to be impressionable.  From The Words of Joseph Smith, (p..60) as recorded by William Clayton in his private book on 5 January, 1841:

"The first step in the salvation of men is the laws of eternal and self-existent principles.  Spirits are eternal.  At the first organization in heaven we were all present and saw the Savior chosen and appointed, and the plan of salvation made and we sanctioned it.  We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the Celestial Kingdom.  The great principle of happiness consists in having a body.  The Devil has no body, and herein is his punishment.  He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man and when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into the herd of swine showing that he would prefer a swines body to having none.  All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not.  The devil has no power over us only as we permit him; the moment we revolt at anything which comes from God the Devil takes power.
This earth will be rolled back into the presence of God and crowned with Celestial Glory."  
[Copied as in original.]

I greatly enjoyed the quote regarding our revolt.  When we revolt at anything, be it scripture, correct principles, or any other form of truth which comes from God, the devil gains power.  Does that mean he has complete control?  No.  But perhaps he gains or increases in power when we choose to decline the light of truth, essentially saying, "No thank you, that pushes my belief system too much so I'm going to decline anything you have to say."  Do I believe that?  I can see it evident in those around me.  When I observe that they prefer to observe their traditions and beliefs over what scripture plainly dictates, it gives me pause.  When I find myself accused of being out of the way because I prefer the words in scripture to our "beliefs", these thoughts from Joseph remind me that perhaps the tables are turned.  I hope to memorize this one.  It ties in (but also contradicts, if one is not careful to understand) with this thought:

“If any man writes to you, or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine & Covenants, set him down as an imposter... Try them by the principles contained in the acknowledged word of God; if they preach, or teach, or practice contrary to that, disfellowship them; cut them off from among you as useless and dangerous branches.” - April 1, 1844 Times and Seasons (Thank you, Michael Hamill, for a recent reference to this.)
I don't know if this was revelatory or opinion from Joseph on how to handle these types of disagreements.  The principle is there, however, on how dramatic the idea is of holding to the word of God.  It would be a branch or a thought inching toward apostasy, to teach things which are contrary and opposed to the word of God.  What if we did set down men that impose their traditions or false interpretations onto scripture?  Indeed, they would be in the act of imposting.  This is such a tricky concept, because I have seen people reject ideas that have been from God which perhaps are not well-known or easily found in scripture, and set down a true message because they don't know where the concept is found in scripture.  Likewise I have seen people set down the truth contained in scripture because it was not one of their favorite verses, or something that came down from a given church's headquarters as their doctrine, so they disregard it.  In either case it is imperative that we understand how to detect truth.  (I really enjoyed stumbling across this explanation on how to interpret the Spirit, which is how we often claim to recognize truth.)    

"This earth will be rolled back into the presence of God and crowned with Celestial Glory."

I find the part about the earth being "rolled back" to be quite fascinating too.  Joseph also makes a distinction between the words 'world' and 'earth'.  

"The world and earth are not synonymous terms.  The world is the human family.  This earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broke up and remodelled [sic] and made into the one on which we live.  The elements are eternal.  That which has a begining [sic] will surely have an end.  Take a ring, it is without beginning or end; cut it for a beginning place, and at the same time you will have an ending place." (WOJS p. 60, 5 Jan 1841, extracts from William Clayton's Private Book)  

The imagery that comes to mind is that we are on a giant sliding board, where perhaps God is at the top, and we are at the bottom of the slide in our fallen state.  Another image that it reminds me of is those birthday noisemakers.  



When you blow air into them, they extend, but when the air is released, it rolls back.  I wonder if the thought has any merit.  

Reading The Words of Joseph Smith has expanded my understanding and contemplation to consider things I never considered before.  I hope it serves as a launch pad for greater revelation and understanding, as we are all intended to learn and know the fullness of God's dealings, power, and the Truth of His Love.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Goals

Offense: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." -Wayne Gretzky

Defense: Be valiant. When you take them, take them in the front.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Join None of Them

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join.  No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) – and which I should join. -Joseph Smith History 1:18
[Side comment - it was a spring morning when Joseph went to pray in the woods.  Perhaps a spring morning like this one?]

Why is Joseph looking to join a church at this tender young age?  Do we ever really stop to think or ask what Joseph is seeking?  Of late I have really pondered this experience Joseph had.  He didn't belong to any church, and perhaps thought it was important to be a part of one.  Maybe it was because it was believed that one needed to belong to a "true church" to achieve salvation?  Or maybe it was just to fit in and have a community to walk the straight path with?

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." JSH 1:19
Joseph was informed the surprising news that they were not just partly or a few wrong, but alllllllllll these churches and professors were corrupt.  What does that mean?  The Personage explains in great detail.


Their creeds, which according to the Webster's 1828 dictionary, means
CREED, noun [This word seems to have been introduced by the use of the Latin credo, I believe, at the beginning of the Apostles creed or brief system of Christian faith. See creed ]1. A brief summary of the articles of Christian faith; a symbol; as the Apostolic creed2. That which is believed; any system of principles which are believed or professed; as a political creed"
were an abomination in his sight.  What is an abomination in 1828? 

ABOMINA'TIONnoun1. Extreme hatred; detestation.
2. The object of detestation, a common signification in scripture.
The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. Proverbs 15:8.
3. Hence, defilement, pollution, in a physical sense, or evil doctrines and practices, which are moral defilements, idols and idolatry, are called abominations. The Jews were an abomination to the Egyptians; and the sacred animals of the Egyptians were an abomination to the Jews. The Roman army is called the abomination of desolation. Matthew 24:15. In short, whatever is an object of extreme hatred, is called an abomination

Their beliefs and things they professed were of extreme detestation to the Lord. They are detested.  What if we break down the word detest (although it was not used in the verse itself)?  
DETESTverb transitive [Latin , to affirm or bear witness. The primary sense of testor is to set, throw or thrust. To detest is to thrust away.] To abhor; to abominate; to hate extremely; as, to detest crimes or meanness.

I really appreciate the idea of detest meaning that something is thrust away.  To break down the word de-test, we could also understand that it is un-tested, or not-testable, therefore cannot be aligned with truth.  If God is all truth, something which is de-tested cannot align with Him, and cannot be tolerated in His presence, correct?  

What things to we each detest? Can you conjure up that same feeling, and understand how Elohim feels about the beliefs and professations of Christianity at the time?  Are those beliefs much different than they are today?  Or has Christianity come a far way away in the past 194 years from the time of the first vision?

He continues that "their professors were all corrupt, that "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me..."  How does one draw near to another with their lips, but have hearts far away from someone?  

This notion is the heart of hypocrisy.  Just a little over a month ago I had a friend sit in my home, and profess something loudly with her lips which she physically contradicted with her actions just hours later.  As one who values honesty and truth, I don't understand the need for professations of things just for appearance sake, which in this case, it apparently was.  If our heart is not sincere, why loudly profess to be loyal and true to someone or something?  I believe the Lord considers this de-testable, not only because it is unnecessary, but also reveals that the trust or confidence does not lie solely with Him.  He is able to detect both the deception and the disloyalty from Him, misplaced onto another human.  In essence, trusting in the arm of the flesh, as though one human ought to trust another.  Both myself and this woman are guilty of trusting in the flesh, and in this case, one saying more than "yay, yay, nay, nay" (Matthew 5:33-34), and another believing it as believable.    

"They teach for doctrines the commandments of men."  What are the commandments of men?  Perhaps "thou shalt wear thy Sunday best each week and fold thy arms when thou walkest down the church hall during the third hour"?  This is the doctrine some teach their children, eh?  ;) Guilty!

"Having a form of godliness."  We suppose that we possess a form of godliness in our churches, for the gods would walk down the church hall in their finest linens, with arms folded for reverence.  The gods would profess to believe this house of worship to be God's only true house of worship.  The gods would need to make public professations of their testimony of living men being followed, and never capable of leading one astray.  Do the gods not find this important and part of being godly?    

Perhaps the most damning line of this verse, however, is that "they deny the power thereof".

DENYverb transitive
1. To contradict; to gainsay; to declare a statement or position not to be true. We deny what another says, or we deny a proposition. We deny the truth of an assertion, or the assertion itself. The sense of this verb is often expressed by no or nay.
2. To refuse to grant; as, we asked for bread, and the man denied us.
3. Not to afford; to withhold.
Who find not Providence all good and wise,
Alike in what it gives, and what denies?
4. To disown; to refuse or neglect to acknowledge; not to confess.
5. To reject; to disown; not to receive or embrace.
He hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. 1 Timothy 5:1.
DENYing ungodliness and worldly lusts. Titus 2:1.
6. Not to afford or yield.
To deny ones self, is to decline the gratification of appetites or desires; to refrain from; to abstain. The temperate man denies himself the free use of spirituous liquors. I denied myself the pleasure of your company.
God cannot deny himself. He cannot act in contradiction to his character and promises. He cannot be unfaithful. 2 Timothy 2:12.

These churches, which Joseph was instructed NOT to join, deny the power of God.  As though the power is there, somewhere, but these churches, for some reason, deny it.  Why do they deny God's power?  What was it that these Elohim were warning against?  Is it possible that we can find these same things in our day, or even in our church, be it LDS, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Muslim, or what have you?  Do we individually deny such power?

"He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time." (vs.20)  The warning needed to be so clear that it was repeated again.  What again was wrong with these churches?  Already, as a reader, I have forgotten!  Oh... they draw near to him with their lips.  In short, they are hypocrites.  

All through the four gospels in the Bible we witness how the hypocrites treated Jesus.  He stood with patience towards them, and endless love and charity.  But when Joseph had the chance to join with whatever was left of Christianity, he was told to join none of them.  Would the Lord have us do the same?  I don't understand, because there are some that feel to me to hold so much good.  Am I out of the way?  

It is a peculiar thing, that when given the chance, Joseph and those who believed what he revealed, created a church which offers this same opportunity, to draw near to Elohim with our lips, while our hearts serve other gods, despite our best (or worst) efforts.  

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Entitlement Doctrine

This morning my day began with a thought from The Words of Joseph Smith.

"...the President made some observations respecting the pecuniary affairs of the church, and requested the brethren to step forward and assist in liquidating the debts on the town plot, so that the poor might have inheritances." (Emphasis mine, WOJS p. 36.)
It was thought-provoking to me that the Saints were being encouraged to think of the poor among them by liquidating debts on plots.

A footnote in the next entry in the same book led me to a verse in Deuteronomy 15, which I came across on accident while seeking Deut. 30. Accidents are often miracles.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11:
"If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide into him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him naught; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin into thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land."
After reading these verses and highlights this morning, I was shocked and left without speech at Elder Renlund basing his talk this morning on the soul he met in Africa, for their sense of "entitlement".  The dots connected in my brain were Africa + entitlement = ingratitude for American contributions.  Perhaps I am misjudging; perhaps the soul he spoke of was the one wealthy human in that country. Maybe some government bureaucrat. I HOPE with all my heart that I misunderstand, and there is more to the story. Maybe it is I that is falsely jumping to conclusions.  

If he speaks of a human of little means, however, who felt entitled to some scraps of food or clean water, whoa. Yes, if that's the case, wo, wo, whoa. Pray it be not so.

I really enjoyed the talks on forgiveness and humility by the men who are so prominent I don't remember their names. They hit the spots on my heart.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Birth Day Risen Resurrection Holy Day

A few days ago some friends shared this with me.  I don't understand half of what's being shared, but it appears that this Easter Sabbath is an extra noteworthy one.  Last year we celebrated Passover and honored Easter in an uber low key way.  This year we're celebrating it (Easter) in full, in light of it being a momentous occasion.  I felt this article taught me a lot.

http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/2016/unique_easter.html

Also, the last two days we attended various worship services that we had been invited to.  One was a Maundy Thursday service, and the next was a Tenebrae service.  Both included performers singing this song.  I love it so much I think it's worth sharing.  Man of Sorrows, by Shane and Shane.


Perhaps you've heard this song before, but I'm pretty new to Christian Contemporary music, so this one is completely new to me.  Being raised LDS we avoided songs which praise the cross as an idol.  So that part made/makes me a little uncomfortable and in most cases I usually just replace the word cross with His name, but regardless of our thoughts on that part, it's a really, really beautiful song of praise, wholly appropriate for this fabulous weekend.  Listen to it twice and I can guess you'll have trouble getting it out of your heart and mind for awhile.

Happy Resurrection Birth Day Sabbath!  

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Entangled or free?

Galations 5:1

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
If our relationship with "Christ" puts us in bondage, ask who it is that we are actually entangled with.

Christ is the author of liberty.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Unknown Land of Secret Combinations

Hot on my mind lately has been the nature of secret combinations.  When I started this blog several years ago, it was a direct result of having been burned by being a part of one.  I didn't realize it at the time what was going on, but after studying the scriptures my eyes had been opened to what had taken place.  I failed at keeping the secrets of the group, and therefore was expedited OUT of it.  Recently again, I experienced the burns of a secret combination, only this time I was on the outside, watching how they work towards outsiders.

It is regrettable to me that more time is not spent in discussion on this topic in Church.  I have spent quite a bit of time in Primary, so I really can't lament that it's not covered at all (since I wasn't in Sunday School anyway), but rarely is it a hot topic for discussion.  Yet ironically I feel it is one of the biggest downfalls of the Book of Mormon people, and Mormon even comments that it brought down the whole Nephite civilization.  I don't believe much time has been spent on consideration of how we might see secret combinations in our day, except perhaps in the periodic lessons on the parts of the Book of Mormon preceding Christ's coming.  I suppose the topic may get 20 minutes of thought every 4 years or so.  If that.  

Helaman 7 begins the prophecy of Nephi, son of Helaman, who expounds all manner of the wickedness of the people who preceded the coming of the Lord.  Nephi was a phenomenal example of how to know the Lord, for he was given to preach and call repentance, as well as hear the voice of the Lord directly.  He is given power to seal on earth and in heaven, as well as move mountains.  

Prior to Nephi-son-of-Helaman hearing the Lord speak power unto him, Nephi was contemplating the nature of sin that engulfed the Nephites, such that the chief judge's brother had murdered said chief judge.  
"And it came to pass as he was thus pondering – being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works of darkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities – and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him..." - Helaman 10:3
Worth noting is Nephi's observation of their

  • secret works of darkness
  • murderings
  • plunderings
  • all manner of iniquities
We can likely understand what the last three works are.  But what of the first?  Are secret works of darkness only those things which are done in whore houses?  Or are these only applicable to places where secret, dark oaths are made regarding murder?  Like gangs?

This is something I can imagine which caused Nephi some confusion, as to how such a delightsome people could turn to secret works of darkness.

I don't know how to stress how disillusioned we are to think that we do not have such things among the best of us.  I have come to know for myself that we are riddled with secret works of darkness, and even foster such things.  How?

Consider the tight knit group of girls at church, be it in Young Women's or Relief Society.  Where are their loyalties?  To one another, or to you as someone that one of them visit teaches, or serves in any capacity?

How about the Bishop and his counselors?  Do they have loyalty to you, as someone perhaps confiding in their abilities to provide counsel?  (Am I stretching this too far?)  Do these men share your confidences with one another, to try to lift you up in prayer?  Do these counselors then take the burden home, sharing with their wife, who then shares with her tight knit group of friends in a private Facebook group?  Possible?  I know I have heard stories from bishop's wives who assert that their husband spent so much time on their knees in silent prayer on behalf of their ward family.  This is phenomenal, and beautiful.  But I can't imagine that all bishops are this strict with confidences.  Maybe so?  Perhaps it is a spiritual gift which comes with the mantle.

If not, this has great potential to become a secret combination.  Call me crazy, but it bears great capacity to be true.  Perhaps there is no intent to do murder, but there is great potential for a confidence to be broken, whether implicit or implied.  It is right to note that we ought not trust any man but God, so perhaps the consequence of private information being leaked is par for the course.  But in truth, "secret" information has been shared in "secret counsels" and has been provided to spouses under the commitment (oath) of secrecy, that one ought not share.  We foster this simply in the structure of our private meetings and presidencies.

Perhaps this is what God intended.  But perhaps not.  I submit that there is a great potential for evil among us in these "tight knit groups", and we ignore the warning of the Book of Mormon by never, ever ever ever ever talking about secret combinations in Church.  These opportunities for secret combinations, secret trusts, secret oaths, and loyalties being severely broken causing hearts to burn in sheer pain of the disloyalty are rampant.  We foster these kinds of environments.  And we are all likely unknowingly guilty or participating on various ends of the situation, without even thinking twice.

Think I jest?  Or exaggerate?  Ask yourself, how many private meetings have you been in where secret confidences were shared with you or another soul?  Was permission granted for these things to be shared?  And what should happen if the private information was shared, without permission?  Would relationships be severed?  Could forgiveness be easily granted?
"Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people.  And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments." -Helaman 10:4 
Let us rid ourselves of secret works of darkness.  The need for cliques which cause those watching to feel excluded, secret groups where we gossip about others, or places where people can "only trust one another" and "have one another's back" ought to be reconsidered.  I understand the need for some privacy, and I'm not saying that from time to time we all need a close friend or three to help sort things out.  (Hello, Jesus?  Can you help me out?)  I would consider such friendships a gift.  But to have secret groups, book clubs, BFFs, etc. at the outright exclusion of others looking on who would enjoy participating in such a group only serves to destroy the unity of the whole.  Why would an onlooker bother attempting to foster a relationship with someone who is known to be a part of such a thing?  Could they trust that anything spoken in their company would not be shared and chewed on by the private group?  It is not Zion, and Zion cannot be achieved when such things abound.  For the hearts are not pure when others are deemed "less" than those in the group, and pride rules the day.  Seek to root these things out.