Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas or Santamas?

It's coming to that time of the year again. Presents, family get togethers (in some cases), holidays, and calculating your finances.

As we wander through the various shopping centres we are faced with endless enticements. We hear Jingle Bells and a collection of other Santamas songs. If we are lucky we may even hear some Christmas ones included. We see big images of Santa and, if you are like me, you recognise atheisms hand in the loss of Christmas. Movies and cartoons on television further indoctrinate children to see Christmas as Santamas.

I remember when young, people telling me that Christmas is about giving. They said it is better to give than to receive. Yet to me this wasn't how I felt. Mind you I wasn't too impressed when aunties gave me socks, handkercheifs or underwear. But as my mother was a single parent (my parents having split and divorced when I was one) she was glad to save some money on those items.

I never really found the joy in giving instead of receiving at Christmas until I went on my mission in December. No presents had come but I was out serving others. Suddenly I felt the good feeling that comes from service without expecting something.

The concept of Santa is the idea that some guy is just going to give you something you don't really deserve. The focus isn't on going out and doing this to others. It is on the concept of just receiving something. This is opposite to what Christ taught of giving of yourself to others, and wanting nothing in return.

The sorts of things that would really make a true Christmas would be to look forward to acts of service on this day, to remember that Christ came (among other things) to give of himself.

I'd like to wish everyone a happy Christmas time. Think on the poor and lonely. And if you help them out your Christmas will be so much the better.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

My God; What is He?

Let me first notify my readers that my long absence has been due to a stroke and heart failure. All going well I'll be getting back into it now. I wish to thank all those who visit my site, for their dedication to truth and for giving me the privilege of being able to communicate to others those things that I know to be eternally important. Now to the subject.

The greatest things of the gospel, to me, are the love of the Father and Jesus Christ and the miracle of the change following them can make in our lives. Accompanied by these is the beautiful truths that await us as we learn from God the principles of eternity.

Jesus Christ stated _

"And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3

The best way to come to understand someone is to create a two-way communication with that person: Walking and talking with the Father and the Son, and having the constant inner-dwelling of the Holy Ghost.

So what is God to me at this present stage?

Firstly I accept that eternal laws exist that restrict what God can and can't do. We are told that God cannot lie, for example. Lehi tells us that if the laws weren't the way they are that God wouldn't be God. Appreciating that God is restricted by eternal laws helps me, then, to come to see that God is a loving, caring Father, not an all powerful, two-faced lunatic.

In saying this let me state that, as he can't bend eternal laws, we are stuck with the consequences of our actions (other than Christ suffering for our sins instead [of the truly repentant] and making the resurrection possible). God cannot wave a magic wand and make us perfect people, capable of living Celestial Laws. While many Scripture texts set down the idea of billions of independent trials at which gigantic books will be opened containing our life history and countless hours will be spent reading out the good and bad each of us has done, this isn't all the Scriptures say. Jesus says that he will judge no man, and that it is his words that judge us: That the Saints and Jesus shall judge in that they have delivered the message and others have either accepted or rejected them. King Benjamin also sets down this idea _

"Therefore if that man doesn't repent, and remains and dies an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which causes him to shrink form the presence of the Lord, and fills his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascends up forever and ever." Mos 2:38

This points out that judgement doesn't come so much from a vengeful God, but comes from inside us. This presents, then, that God is trying to spare us from the natural and eternal consequences of our own wrong thoughts and actions. My God wants us all to come home and will do all he can to make it happen.

Yet as we have free agency most will never seek that kind of righteousness. For as all things are equal there will be those who choose total wickedness and those who choose total righteousness with the vast majority on various levels in between.

God welcomes our friendship and a loving father-son/daughter relationship with him. He is yearning for this with all of us. We have to raise our spiritual thoughts to the point of coming to walk and talk with him and the Son.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Externalizing - Examining Psychology Part 1

Before examining the intriguing world of psychology I had a term titled "excuses." Psychology makes an art form of dissecting this into more understandable parts. The one I'd like to examine in this post is externalizing. An explanation of this is given as follows _

By shifting the blame for your offending behavior on to some one else, you avoid responsibility for the offense. It is often common to externalize blame prior to a court appearance. Examples include: “She came on to me, it was her idea”; “My wife said I should teach her daughter about sex; “My uncle did it to me - it's in our family”

Externalizing can cross over into some of the other areas of excuses that can be given. So the lines aren't always clear. Yet by keeping the focus on the name we can get the idea.

As the example given above is set at sex-offenders only, I'd like to look at some other areas.

We can attempt to externalize shop-lifting by saying things such as, "my brother dared me," "my mother wanted the item," "they rip people off with their prices, so its only fair they get ripped off."

We can attempt to justify violence against another by saying that he asked for it by some statement or action.

Understanding that these types of excuses do not excuse the action or lack thereof, is very important. However on the other side this has created an atmosphere where Psychology has been turned into a science rather than a collection of good philosophies.

The other side of the examples above is that some may actually believe them deep down. And they may be accurate in some instances. Most psychologists just hear something that fits under an excuse type and then label it with that excuse.

Qualifying Actions VS Externalizing:

A lady comes up to you and asks you to help her put some items in her car. You begin to help and out comes a store detective to arrest you both for theft as she had not paid for the items.

When in jail you face the (mostly) dreaded prison psychologist. You inform them that you only did it because she asked. They inform you that you are externalizing the blame. So what happened to qualifying actions? Where does that fit in their science?

What has started as a good philosophy has now become a science of keeping the innocent in jail and releasing the guilty. Here we are talking about real people like you and I. Kept in jail by another one of man's non-sciences.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Giving Good Talks

I think all of us get wandering minds in the middle of listening to someone's talk. We feel the talk has bogged down and is no longer interesting enough to keep listening (if it ever was). Do you get like that? I'm sure you do.

So I took note of what makes me suddenly listen to what someone is saying and the type of talks where I'd be lucky to hear much at all. Naturally everyone is different. Yet when I have given talks I must say that I get a good response from people telling me they enjoyed it. Also I look out and see people mostly looking at me in interest. So what's the trick to a good talk?

The main thing is that YOU find it interesting. If you find it interesting then you are more likely to convey that feeling to the congregation. If the subject stirs you then you have more chance to stir them with that passion.

I have noted that where a person is almost entirely reading out what some GA has said I'm lucky not to fall asleep. Why? Because it isn't really the thoughts and feelings of the reader. The reader may almost just as well be quoting Shakespear. Perhaps they completely agree with the GA. But it still doesn't come over with that same passion as when written in your own words.

When a person opens up their heart in part of the talk (usually done on a personal experience) I suddenly listen. And will keep listening until they revert back to quoting some other GA.

Also another thing that turns me off talks is when a person seems to just deliberately quote GAs. For example one member said, Elder Some B. Oddy of the Council of Twelve said, "love one another." Well, I'm glad he informed me that one of the 12 said it, now I can know its fact. Is that a bit of cynicism I detect there, Doug? Jesus Christ obviously wasn't enough of an authority for this person. Perhaps if we referred to him as "President Jesus Christ" he might get more respect out of this guy.

If I feel a bit nervous then I focus on the importance of my message to the congregation. This takes my mind off myself and puts it on the subject. That additionally helps it come over with feeling.

Of course if you are going to write your own talk then you need to do some research. You also need to pray for help and the Spirit to guide you. And this is imperative for a good talk. This means you learn and develop a closer relationship with God. Another of the benefits of writing your own talk.

And finally, throw in a bit of light, on subject, humor here and there.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What Evidences Do I Have that the Scriptures and Church are True?

In my time in the church I have heard many arguments against it. I also have heard atheists speak against all our Scripture, including the Bible. Many ask me why a person, educated as I am, believes such notions? And they will pose the question of proof.

Yet their attitude in asking the question demonstrates that they aren't really interested in hearing it answered. It just becomes a cliche. And therefore when I answer it they didn't want to hear that, and so dispel it as more strange notions.

Many try to discredit the church by making claims of discrepancies in Egyptology, DNA, "modern science" and interpretations of Biblical texts. Also attempts are made at sensationalizing, claims of plagiarism and changes of opinions among general authorities of the church. Then there are claims against Joseph Smith or Brigham Young.

While all these things can be answered, what is my knowledge, of an outward nature, that the church is really what it says it is? Where is the evidence justifying my faith?

Man has tried to explain truth in science, literature, philosophy, psychology and religion. Yet all man's efforts don't bring true answers that really solve social, economic and psychological problems. Nor do they make sense when deeply analyzed. Man also gets lost in many areas of unscientific "science" falsely so called. Psychologists tell us that anger is normal and good. While Christ tells us it is extremely bad.

So who is right? Is Christ correct, or psychologists? The answers to these types of questions stand as a testimony to me of the correctness of Scripture, the divine direction given to prophets and apostles in the Scriptures, and the importance of them in my life.

I have found that being angry with people distorts true judgment. Not only for the issue, but it seems to affect many other decisions I make. Getting rid of anger brings a peace to my heart. One for Christ. Minus one for man's psychology.

Joseph Smith claimed revelation that we have sinned by our eighth birthday and therefore require baptism. At some time while 7 I started to feel terrible when I did something wrong. I had never heard this doctrine at that age, and hadn't even heard of Joseph Smith. Yet what he says he was inspired with was true. One for Joseph Smith.

He also claimed revelation that we are an intelligence and that is light and truth. He additionally said that as we sin so we lose light and truth. In other words we lose our existence to some degree. The more I have followed God's instructions the more I have felt life in me. This testifies to the truth of what Joseph Smith has stated.

Additionally I have noted my ability to think clearly improves when reading the Book of Mormon. Many things in life seem to run better. People respond better overall. I have seen this in the life of others also. I also demonstrated this in the life of a non-member who tried this suggestion. He couldn't deny the amazing changes that had occurred in his life since he began to read that book. Another one for the Scriptures and Joseph Smith.

Jesus Christ tells me not to lust. The world tells me that lust is good. As I have given up lust I have felt much better inside. And my love of others has come out more. Another one for Jesus Christ.

Alma 32 gives a run down on using faith that I have found by experience is perfectly correct in every detail. Another one for the Scriptures and Joseph Smith.

The world tells us that it is good to be rich. The Scriptures tell us it is bad to be rich. I have found the truth again of what the Scriptures say. Financial peace comes through trusting that as you do what God would have you do he will see that you come through whatever financial challenges you face.

Whether it be loving those who abuse you, or whatever concept we have placed before us, I have found God is right and the world is wrong. My logic, through personal experiences, tells me this is impossible, unless this knowledge comes from a source far beyond the intelligence of man.

So I have a myriad of physical evidences of the truth of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Scriptures, the LDS church and Joseph Smith.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Becoming Like God

When we look at sport or academic achievements they can often be based on our ability rated against the ability of others: Can I run faster, lift more weight, learn spelling better, etc. So we can often tend to suppose that if we are about equal (or particularly better) with others in things all is well enough.

Yet suppose we were to look at carpentry that way for a moment. I decide I want to be a carpenter and build a house. If my carpentry skills are equal to those around me what kind of house would I build: How safe would it be? I wouldn't like to have my family living in it! Nor would I if my next door neighbors built it. So why would I judge my carpentry abilities by others? It has to be a question of ability to do the job.

The church could be likened to a carpentry training center. But what if those teaching and those learning only went so far in their education and refused to go further? The church is geared to only teach basic skills. The further learning must be obtained from the professionals (Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost).

In this carpentry idea I would need to do studies on safe building methods, and many hours of application of the principles learnt. I would have to start with smaller objects and work my way up through doing smaller buildings etc.

So do we become like God by doing church callings and listening to "the prophet?"

Certainly all callings should assist us in learning to feel and see the importance and beauty of service to others. And listening to nice people and reading the Scriptures are great ideas. But to know how we are going in our quest to become a God requires a more relevant test than this. And to get the skills requires greater studies.

"And the Lord said, If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you might say to this sycamine tree, Be plucked up by the root, and be planted in the sea; and it should obey you." Luke 17:6

Have you done that lately? Commanded a tree to be plucked up and planted somewhere else? If we are to control planets then we must apply principles that will make us able to do so.

Now I know some will say that this isn't to be taken literally, but that you have to ask God, and he will do it. Yes, I was brought up believing that too. Then one day I read it without man's indoctrinated interpretation. It says, "obey you." Not, "obey God." God doesn't need to improve his faith to move a tree. Nor does he need us to improve our faith so that he can move a tree. We do. To become like a carpenter we must practice carpentry where required.

I'm not suggesting you go out and try to move trees as an exercise. It has to be done with the right heart. Love is a good motivator. But many opportunities are available for you to develop this ability. Healing others is a good starting area. Blessings to children when injured or hitting their heads is good.

Let's look at the story of Peter walking on water _

"And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be you, bid me come to you on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter came down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, and caught him, and said to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Matthew 14:28-31

So it was Peter's faith, and then lack of it, that made it possible for Peter to walk on the water. If it were really Jesus that was holding him up then he wouldn't have begun to sink, as Jesus' faith was constant.

In the Book of Abraham we read _

"And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed." Abraham 4:18

Why did it take time for them to obey? Because we were learning. So we took time to get it done. If God himself had done the job it wouldn't have taken 6 days. He could have had it done in next to no time.

The real test, then, of how close we are to our objective is how well we can control objects for such things as healing. Also how much time we have spent in personal two-way learning communication with our Heavenly Father. Of course this will also be demonstrated in the love we would feel in our hearts for others.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Understanding Romans Chapter 7, Did Paul Teach that we have to Sin?

In my opinion Paul would have to be the most often misunderstood of all Scriptural writers. In the case of this chapter the problem is increased by some poor sentence re-construction between languages.

For example of what I mean let us look at the German expression, "sprechen sie Deutsch." We say that this says, "do you speak German." But "sprechen" is a verb in German, as it ends in "en." Thus it is literally "speaking" in English. "Sie" means "you." And "Deutsch" is "German." So literally it says, "speaking you German." Yet this doesn't convey the meaning to English speaking peoples. A more accurate translation to maintain the original words AND intent would be to say, "are you capable of speaking German?"

In this examination I have looked over the original sentence structure and words. I found the structure used in translations is very questionable in parts. Therefore I would like to unravel the mystery of this chapter and present what I find Paul really said.

1 "Don't you know, brothers, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law has authority over a man only as long as he's alive?"

He then goes on to give an example to demonstrate what he is trying to say next.

2 "For the woman that has a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he's alive; but if the husband be dead, she is released from the law of her husband."
3 "So then if, while her husband is alive, she marries another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband is dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man."
4 "So, my brothers, you also have become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you might be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God."
5 "For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bear the fruit of death."
6 "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter."

Considering verse 4, the subject flow and the sentence structure in Greek I believe this latter verse would be better interpreted _

06 "But now we are delivered from the law, us being dead to that which held us; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of that which is written."

The significance of this is that Christ implied that the law doesn't actually pass away, but must be fulfilled within the heart of each individual, separately.

It is important to also note here that Paul has mentioned being free from the law of death through Christ. Yet in this chapter he goes on to speak of his situation while previously under the law.

7 "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not. Indeed, I would not have known what sin was, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, You shall not covet."

So the law itself doesn't make people do evil. Nor is it evil. People do evil, but the law makes them aware it is evil so they can change from doing evil.

8 "But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead."

That latter verse is about as clear as mud to most people. Let me present the following rendering for consideration _

8 "But sin was produced (only existing because of the commandment) using all my covetous desires. For without the law sin was dead."

What he is saying here is that though you can have covetous desires that make you do evil, before knowing the law, once you know the law, by doing those things you have sinned, because you knew not to do them.

9 "For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin was reborn, and I died."
10 "And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be to death."

This is just a continuation of the same logic. We are condemned by our knowledge of that which is evil if we do that evil in the knowledge that it is evil: It creates a spiritual death by disobedience.

11 "For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me."

I would interpret it _

11 "But sin was produced (only existing because of the commandment) deceived me, and by it killed me."

Once again he is pointing out that evil acts have become sins to him because of the commandments he's received. And so spiritual death has come to him by him deliberately sinning.

12 "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good."
13 "Was then that which is good made death to me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful."

Would be better stated _

13 "Did that which is good become death to me? Definitely not. But the good [commandment] showing me the sin caused death in me, and therefore it was shown to be greater evil by the commandment."

He is stating that the law wasn't to his detriment in making him aware of the evil of his actions; but helped him in understand just how truly evil his actions were.

14 "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin."
15 "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."
16 "If then I do that which I don't want to, I consent to the law that it is good."
17 "Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me."
18 "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I can't find."
19 "For the good that I want, I don't do: but the evil which I don't want to do, that I do."

Paul is saying that when controlled by the carnal man he does what his mind is saying is wrong according to his teachings from the law. As the law opposes his carnal actions it shows the law to be good. It isn't the desire of his mind to do it but the carnal feelings within, that he allows to act. This happens because the flesh seeks its own desires, not those of his spiritual well being. His spirit wants to do good acts that raise the spirit, but the flesh, uncontrolled, does the opposite.

20 "Now if I do what I don't want to, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me."

This verse sounds a little strange. Some use it to justify sinning, claiming that it isn't their fault, but the fault of sin that is in them: That they had no choice. However this isn't what he is saying. He is saying that it isn't the choice of his mind but the choice of his uncontrolled flesh. He comes to answer how to deal with this problem in the next chapter; and so I will lightly touch on that at the end.

21 "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me."
22 "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:"
23 "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."
24 "What a wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
25 "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."

So here he is capping off his whole chapter with the point that while the law is good, it isn't sufficient, because it still leaves this conflict between the demands of the law and the desires of his flesh. He is saying that it is extremely difficult to near on impossible to live the law of Moses and have spiritual harmony: Perfection seems out of the question.

But along comes the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel eliminates the problem by making spiritual laws of the heart its focus. Thus when Jesus Christ finished his sermon to the Nephites and Sermon on the Mount to the Jews he said, "Therefore be perfect.." Matt 5:48, 3 Nep 12:48

The next chapter of Romans goes on to say _

1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit... That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
Romans 8:1 & 4-6

Thus we see that chapter 7 isn't some justification for sin or some statement that we are doomed to sin. It is a statement that we have serious problems being perfect while under the law.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Excommunicated Members that are Innocent Can Still go to the Celestial Kingdom

I have been instructed for years that only baptized members will get into the Celestial Kingdom.

Those people that are valiant in that good works will get into the Terrestial Kingdom.

And all the unrepentant sinners will go to the Telestial, apart from the rare sons of Perdition.

For much of my member life I was instructed that church courts were conducted by inspiration and that all decisions were thus correct. This meant that all excommunicated members were unable to obtain the Celestial Kingdom without repentance and re-baptism.

Yet over latter years I have come to see problems with this simplistic viewpoint. Also personal guidance by the Spirit brought some of it into question. And recently a Scripture text was pointed out that supported that guidance.

The message of this text has significance to the excommunicated members who were never guilty of the sins of which they were accused, but were still found guilty by church courts. Sad as it may be, and as much as we may like to believe otherwise, it is far too prevalent.

"The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell....I saw Father Adam and Abraham; and my father and my mother; my brother Alvin, that has long since slept; And marveled how it was that he had obtained an inheritance in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins. Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God; Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom; For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts." D&C 137:1 & 5-9

This demonstrates that it is really by our works and the desires of our hearts that we will or will not enter in. As these excommunicated people can't repent and show remorse for undone deeds, they can never satisfy the demands of the church court system, to obtain re-baptism. Yet these people need not fear as they fit in the category of those unable to be baptized in this life.

We see an additional instance of people unable to be baptized who also enter into the Celestial Kingdom _

"And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven." D&C 137:10

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Searching for Meaning - My Membership in God's Kingdom

As I have looked over the various discussions on the internet I have found that it isn't uncommon for members (generally females - but I think that is only because they discuss heart issues) to be struggling with finding meaning in their church membership. They express their deep concerns with this problem, particularly when they believe in the Book of Mormon etc.

I have recently read of one sister's struggles, who has had her father leave the church; and he had been a bishop and her rock to rely on in regard the church.

People will often quote how they enjoyed youth activities and even service in the church. And often how they were greatly influenced for good by some member who may have been a teacher etc. Yet the struggle inside themselves goes on to find identity and a oneness with it all.

Some more active members may point and say, "oh well, they were probably smoking and not paying their tithing, I'll bet." And it certainly is true that this doesn't contribute to feeling part of the thing. But if these problems do exist they may just be another sign of the true problem, rather than its cause. Healing these problems may only be healing the symptoms.

So what should all really be looking for in our church membership? How do we make it fulfilling? Why do some carry on for years and then suddenly go off, while others carry on for years without deviating?

The answer is actually in the name of the church, and we hear it all the time. Jesus Christ. No, I'm not blaspheming. That is what is missing in people's church experience. I will explain this in more detail. But put simply; they are trying to create a relationship within the church system rather than a relationship with deity. Then wondering why they don't feel spiritually fulfilled.

Jesus Christ said, "For this is life eternal, that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." John 17:3

The life Christ promises is by developing a personal relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It isn't about developing a personal belief in the bishop or other church administrators. These may be wonderful people. Some may be very inspired. But creating a relationship with them won't produce eternal life. And trying it this way is just attempting a short cut.

"And Enoch walked with God: and was not, for God took him." Gen 5:24

When we read of someone speaking to God face to face or walking with God it is sad that so many just put it off as something done by someone in some exalted position - "the prophet." Yet Joseph Smith had no position when visited by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ due to the enormous faith and sincerity of his prayer at 14. And what position did Lehi have when called upon to preach to those in Jerusalem (he had no priesthood authority at all)? And what of the child Samuel who was spoken to by God to give instruction to the prophet (church president) Eli?

Jesus Christ stated, "Draw near to me and I will draw near to you, seek me diligently and you shall find me; ask, and you shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened to you." D&C 88:63

Jesus also stated, "See, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20

In these verses Jesus has presented that he stands at the door and knocks. Note that he is there waiting for us. As we draw near to him he can draw near to us. He promises us that he is very willing to create this communication and oneness with us, it only requires our willingness also to make it happen. We have to open the door to our hearts to him in all sincerity, so that he can enter: He can't kick the door down. We are free and independent; and must remain so (D&C 93:30).

Some may ask then, what should my feelings in regard the church organisation be?

We need to learn to worship God all week in the heart; then go to church with the idea of finding opportunities to serve others. If something I say can make it easier for someone to live the gospel more fully then I have done good. Many opportunities exist for service in the church through callings. If we don't have a calling we can find service opportunities there ourselves. Even such things as thinking and presenting comments in Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society/Young Women's can help others to focus on their spiritual life. Don't underestimate the importance of such things.

Jesus prayed to the Father in regard all those who believe in him _

"That they all may be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us...." John 17:21

Jesus Christ wants us to be one with him and the Father. We need to get into our heads that we can have that perfect oneness and come to know them as well as we know ourselves. Through this oneness our life in the church will obtain true and full meaning.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Apostasy Predicted in the Bible

A lot has been written on the subject of the apostasy. Yet I would like to look at it from a Biblical point.

The apostle Paul notes the changing of doctrine that had been occurring in Galatia:

"I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you to the grace of Christ, to another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." Galatians 1:6-7

Paul further mentions the divisions that were already occurring in the break-up of the church in Corinth at that time:

"Now I implore you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been told to me regarding you, my brothers, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you says, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" 1 Corinthians 1:10-13

Paul states later to them:

"Now in this that I'm declaring to you I don't praise you, you are coming together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together in the church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it." 1 Corinthians 11:17-18

When writing to Titus Paul said in regard those in the church:

"For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision." Titus 1:10

Peter stated:

"... Paul also according to the wisdom given to him has written to you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction." 2 Peter 3:15-16

The apostle Paul presented that the members of the church at his time shouldn't regard that Christ had come yet. He points out that a falling away of the church had to come first:

"We are requesting of you, brothers, regarding the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and us gathering together to him, That you don't soon be shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is here. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come an apostasy [Greek - apostastasia] first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he sets himself up in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be a God. ... And now you know what is being presently held back, that when his time comes he might be revealed. For the mystery of iniquity is already working: only he who now holds back [God] will hold back, until he [God] is removed from it [altogether]. And then shall that Wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders." 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9

Here Paul has presented that no one should regard that Christ will be coming until the church falls away and the true God is removed from it. Also that God is holding it back from happening at that point. He states that in charge of the apostate church one will arise claiming to be a God on earth. This latter prophesy could have been regarded as having being fulfilled not long after this time by Roman emperors or by the Pope.

Pope Pius V said, "The Pope and God are the same, so he has all power in Heaven and earth." quoted in Barclay, Cities Petrus Bertanous Chapter XXVII: 218.

Vatican Document:
"He [the Pope] can pronounce sentences and judgments in contradiction to the rights of nations, to the law of God and man...he can free himself from the commands of the apostles, he being their superior, and from the rules of the Old Testament...The Pope has power to change times, to abrogate laws, and to dispense with all things, even to the precepts of Christ." Decretal de Translat. Episcop. Cap.

Furthermore Paul is presenting that this "wicked one" will still be here when Christ comes again for Christ to "destroy [him] with the brightness of his coming". So this rules out Roman emperors, only leaving the Pope.

When writing to Timothy, Paul again mentions the fact that the church will lose its truth:

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables." 2 Timothy 4:3-4

This had to be speaking of the church as a whole, as people are always creating false teachers.

So a complete moving away from the truth has been in the beginning of its action at the time just after Christ; and has eventually occurred fully. Some truths remained through the publication of the Bible. But a lot of this was distorted by the ideas men had come to accept as truth. This is why it was necessary for the truth to be restored to mankind once again by revelation from God himself. God has set up his Church upon the earth again. It was set up by revelation, as in New Testament and Old Testament times. This means that people can be assured that the true ordinances of God are being performed in the right way, and a source of the whole truth is available to all. This is the purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Protestant Experts Declare Protestant Biblical and Theological Knowledge and Belief is Poor.

While looking up something else on the internet I came across an interesting article at The article was entitled "Crisis in America’s Churches: Bible Knowledge at All-Time Low" by Michael J. Vlach, Ph.D. So I'm quoting from that somewhat in this post. It additionally states that the problem isn't unique to the USA.

I'll make some comments in regard these facts after presenting what I feel are the most important points stated.

"A crisis of basic biblical and theological knowledge exists in America’s churches, and church leaders must do all they can to address this growing problem, so say experts monitoring the beliefs of people in Christian churches across the United States.

'The Christian body in America is immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy,' warns researcher George Barna. 'How else can you describe matters when most churchgoing adults reject the accuracy of the Bible, reject the existence of Satan, claim that Jesus sinned, see no need to evangelize, believe that good works are one of the keys to persuading God to forgive their sins, and describe their commitment to Christianity as moderate or even less firm?'"
Barna Research Online, “Religious Beliefs Vary Widely by Denomination,”, June 25, 2001.

Vlach also points out that "The most widely known Bible verse among adult and teen believers is 'God helps those who help themselves'—which is not actually in the Bible."

He further points out that less than 10% of Protestants use the Bible, rather than the world view, in making life decisions.

He goes on to state _

"Gary Burge, professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois... points to research at Wheaton College in which the biblical and theological literacy of incoming freshmen have been monitored. One-third could not identify Matthew as an apostle from a list of New Testament names."
Gary M. Burge, “The Greatest Story Never Read: Recovering biblical literacy in the church”

"Like Burge, George Lindbeck, the famous Yale theologian, has commented on the decreasing knowledge of Scripture from a professor’s perspective.

'When I first arrived at Yale, even those who came from nonreligious backgrounds knew the Bible better than most of those now who come from churchgoing families,' he says."
George A. Lindbeck, “The Church’s Mission to a Postmodern Culture,” Postmodern Theology: Christian Faith in a Pluralist World (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), 45

"This is also the view of theologian and author David Wells. 'I have watched with growing disbelief as the evangelical church has cheerfully plunged into astounding theological illiteracy.'" David F. Wells, No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 4.

In regard Barna, Vlach states _

"In his study of the beliefs of mainline Protestants (including Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians), Barna documented...Only 35% of mainline Protestant church members believe Christ was sinless; 34% believe the Bible is totally accurate; 27% agree that works don’t earn heaven; and 20% believe Satan is real.

Of Baptists (any type) in America, only 34% believe Satan is real. Only 43% believe that works don’t earn heaven. ... Only 55% affirm that Christ was sinless, and 66% hold that the Bible is totally accurate.

Of nondenominational Christian churches, Barna reports that 48% believe Satan is real; 60% say works don’t earn heaven; 63% affirm the sinlessness of Christ; and 70% believe the Bible is totally accurate."
“Religious Beliefs Vary Widely by Denomination.”

Vlach asks, "whatever happened to theology?"

He quotes Burge further _

"'many Christian churches have abandoned serious Bible exposition and theological teaching.'

'Rather than explaining the historical setting of a passage, texts become springboards for devotional reflection,' he notes. 'Biblical passages are taken out of context as the preacher searches for those stories that evoke the responses or attitudes desired.' As a result, 'The heart of a ‘good’ sermon is fast becoming the ‘emotional work’ that can be done in 20 minutes preaching time.'

'That is it in a nutshell,' he says. 'Christian faith is not being built on the firm foundation of hard-won thoughts, ideas, history, or theology. Spirituality is being built on private emotional attachments.'”
Burge, “The Greatest Story Never Read.”

"A third reason for biblical and theological illiteracy today is the tremendous influence unbiblical philosophies and worldviews are having on churchgoers. Liberalism promotes that the Bible is a human construct and not a divine document. In doing so, it continues to assail the traditional ... [Protestant] views of the inerrancy of the Bible, deity of Christ, reality of Satan, substitutionary atonement, and other key doctrines of the ... [Protestant] faith... Postmodernism has convinced many that there are no universal truths."

Vlach also states, "Only 32% of born-again ... [Protestants] still believe in the existence of absolute moral truth."

"Many Christians accept elements of these unbiblical worldviews without even knowing it. Because of this, Barna and Mark Hatch have noted that “we cannot really call the faith of American Christians a Bible-based faith.” George Barna and Mark Hatch, Boiling Point: It Only Takes One Degree (Ventura: Regal, 2001), 187.

"According to Barna and Hatch, Christians today have accepted and combined so many ideas from other worldviews and religions that they have created their own faith system.

But what can church leaders do about this crisis?"

Years ago Protestant church leaders got together to see what they could do about the failing numbers of church goers. They surveyed people to find out what they had against going to church. One of the big reasons people gave as an excuse was that the various religions professing belief in Christ couldn't even agree with each other. To combat this there became a need to water down theology. A new catch phrase was made, "as long as you believe in Christ." This made theology obsolete. It didn't matter what you thought God was, whether you accepted evolution, homosexuality, female ministers or any other anti-Biblical idea. As long as you profess Christ as your Savior you are saved.

So with that belief what does any of this matter? Yet even these Protestant theologians can see that the Protestant religions have become non-religions. For without theology what is Christ? Are we really to believe that all God demands is the knowledge of a name that we are prepared to speak? If so then I know a lot of blasphemers that are going to do really well in heaven. They are constantly confessing the name of Jesus and that he is the Christ. As Christ himself stated the devils know that he is the Christ. And we even have recorded instances in the New Testament books of evil spirits confessing that Jesus is the Christ.

Without theology Jesus Christ is just a name. It is what that name represents that counts. "And this is life eternal that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent," (Jn 17:3) said Christ. So a knowledge of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is essential. Without theology how can we know them? This coming to know someone takes time and much communication. It requires hearing their ideas and coming to understand why they think that way. We don't just know someone by knowing of them.

In looking at these statistics it is at least reassuring that most have noticed that the Scriptures state that you won't get into heaven without works. Yet I should qualify that to obtain forgiveness of sins doesn't require good works. It does, however, require a person to stop doing bad works (sinning). Protestantism doesn't understand that there is a difference between being saved from the hell we suffer for our sins, and getting into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Protestants themselves produce specials trying to make the Bible more palatable. I have seen them say that the Pharaoh's chariots merely got stuck in the mud, rather than drowning the Egyptians. An absolute nonsense to anyone who knows that chariots were deliberately made light so as to be fast. The Israelites were told to take all the gold they could from the Egyptians and with all their own goods obviously put on wagons, the chariots would have far more chance of making it across the mud.

Yet if their own ministers present this changing of the Bible to diminish God then what would we expect from the members? Also those trying to fit in with evolution, billions of years old earth and other such modern science religious drivel are going to have to sacrifice Biblical accuracy for modern trends.

And these problems have even crept into the LDS church. Fortunately our statistics are far superior to these. Yet there are enough that are attempting to change that. Even among our general authorities we have had those deceived in these areas. It is important that we hold to Scriptural truths and don't discard them for the trends of the world. We must remain truly Christian and not discard our heritage of a real BELIEF IN Christ.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Looking at claims against Joseph Smith's Prophesies.

Prophesying is a difficult thing to do. The biggest problem we face when being told things by God is our interpretations of the things stated. We hear it with our thinking. I remember once being given a revelation where I was even taken out by Christ and shown the answer to a question I had asked. Yet upon returning I interpreted the information incorrectly in part, due to my ignorance in another area. It wasn't until about 8 years later that I realised my error.

I think the greatest classic case of this in Scripture was Caiaphas in regard Christ _

"And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said to them, You know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation doesn't perish. And this he said not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death." John 11:49-53

So had we asked the prophet Caiaphas what the revelation had said, he would say that he was told Christ was to be killed for the sake of everyone; and it was their responsibility to have it done.

Joseph Smith took his revelation that if he lived to be 85 he would see Christ come, to mean that Christ would definitely come at that time, even if he didn't live to be 85.

Yet some prophesies are a case of, "if you do X, Y will happen." I have seen this to be true myself. When I haven't done X, Y didn't happen. However when I did X, Y did happen. The Scriptures contain many such prophesies in instruction format to us all. If we follow what God says certain blessings will come. The tithing and word of wisdom promises being examples of this (Mal 3:10-12, D&C 89:18-21). If we do wrong things then wrong things will happen (not that all wrong comes upon us from our mistakes, as we also suffer for the wrongs of society, the world, our families, friends etc). Yet these all fit in the same prophesy.

"Therefore, you son of man, say to the children of your people, The righteousness of the righteous will not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turns from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sins. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he has committed, he shall die for it." Ezekiel 33:12-13

In other words if God makes a prophetic promise to a person (or for that matter a people) if they then turn away from him, the promise no longer stands.

And many prophesies Joseph Smith received were of this type that Ezekiel refers to. Promises were made when people were doing the right thing, yet as time progressed they turned away from God, and so the promise became null and void.

Many accusations have been thrown at Joseph Smith claiming that many of his revelations proved to be wrong. While it would be silly to claim that a man who had a prophetic calling thrust upon him with so little time to learn and no one to learn from, made no teething mistakes; let's examine some of these claims taken from Anti-LDS sites online.

"If Joseph Smith was a true prophet from God, then his prophecies should have come to pass. However, there are plenty of cases where they did not. For example, Joseph Smith claimed that before 1891, and before he reached the age of 85, Jesus Christ would return. Well, Joseph Smith did not reach the age of 85 - he was murdered on the 27th of July 1844. And we know that Jesus Christ didn't return before 1891, bringing an end to the present world order."

The statement that Joseph received said that IF he lived to be 85 he would see Christ coming (D&C 130:15). This means that had events been such that Joseph Smith stayed away rather than going back to be murdered his continued life would have changed events that significantly.

"Smith also predicted the demise of the government of the state of Missouri which had displeased him - this never happened." He prophesied that the civil war would not result in the freedom of 'Ham' - this could not happen until the millenium according to Smith. Here again Smith was demonstrating just what a false prophet he was."

As to the then government of Missouri. That political party lost the next election and dissolved soon afterward.

In regard Ham's descendants (which were pre-flood Canaanites) the Bible tells us _

"And he said cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall swell in the tents of Shem and Canaan shall be his servant." Gen 9:25-27

Note it mentions that of the 3 sons of Noah only Shem and Japheth will have Canaan as servants. So who was Canaan? Only Ham is left of the 3 sons. And why call him Canaan since he was their brother? Surely he would have his children as the same descent as his brothers, wouldn't he? Obviously not. Ham must therefore have married a Canaanite. and why was her race predominant?

And who have been servants more than others of races upon the earth? The negros, is the answer.

Are the negros no longer slaves? Did the Civil war end the slavery of even the negros in the USA? I would argue that negros today, while having much greater freedom generally, are still not in equal situation to whites completely. So I would see that the prophesy of Joseph Smith and Genesis chapter 9 is still valid.

"Smith prophesied in 1832 concerning the American civil war that the British would get involved and the war would extend to all nations. This is just one of his false prophecies concerning the American civil war."

As to the British getting involved in the Civil war. D&C 87:3 doesn't state that Britain will come to the aid of the confederacy. It states that they would be called upon to do so. And they were so called upon. Prophesies must be examined very carefully WITHOUT additions.

It then states that Britain would do the same, as would other nations. This is presenting a tendency toward world wars and large unions would then arise. This happened only around 50 years after the conclusion of the Civil War in 1914. Then only 31 years later we had wars that put almost everyone on earth at war in 1939. Nations were calling upon nations to assist and forming large alliances. Just over 50 years after the Civil War ended "the League of Nations" was formed. After this came the United Nations that we have today. This wasn't done before on anything like the present scale.

Then in verse 4 it goes on to mention the coming problems which aren't upon us just yet (enjoy the peace). Then in verse 5 he mentions the rising of the Lamanites (across the Americas) against the Gentiles, as is prophesied in the Book of Mormon. Then in verse 6 .... well... pray hard and keep close to the Lord.

It should also be remembered that in this prophesy he has predicted the Civil War, what state it would begin in and what it was about.

It is very important to read prophesies carefully rather than a quick scanning. Listenning to prophesy correctly is an art form where we learn from our mistakes. After enough errors we wake up to stop adding our own bits to it. Just listen to the instruction and take it on face value.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Blessed Assurance

I was listening to a song that I was raised on in my Protestant years. The first verse says _

"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood."

It goes on to say _

"This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long."

And the last verse says _

"Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blessed,
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with his goodness, lost in his love."

A very optimistic viewpoint with some things that I think are noteworthy.

This person confesses perfect submission. I can't really in all honesty before God claim perfect submission. In some things I am lacking perfect faith. Questions come to mind such as what if God said that being in love wasn't a good idea? Or if he said he didn't want me to marry again until after the resurrection (though he has indicated otherwise - yet the question still is valid)? And what if I married a woman and a week later plural marriage becomes legal again and God asks me to marry another woman right there and then?

The Spirit has asked me to do things years ago that I was embarrassed to do. And in some I failed. Perfect submission is truly a challenge. We want God to guide us, but we wish to steer.

It is also an interesting statement that he has Jesus and this is a foretaste of divine glory. As a church that is what we also teach as a unique doctrine. For we are the only church professing Christ and stating that we will receive the same glory as divinity if we live righteously.

Having tasted the goodness of God I can't say that I'm anything like "filled" with it, unfortunately. Even Jesus Christ is inferior to the Father in that sense. Yet next to our Lord Jesus Christ I also am nothing like "filled" with his goodness, other than the feelings I get from being one with them to some degree, and having the Holy Ghost.

I am truly grateful for the atonement of Christ in my life and the lives of those who have accepted it. It brings peace to my heart that all truly is "at rest" in that sense. I am also grateful for the resurrection being available to all. We should feel confident that we are one with Christ and Heavenly Father.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Divorce Figures are Misleading

I was looking through the old documents on my computer and came across an article on divorce.

Holy Matrimony
In Era of Divorce, Mormon Temple Weddings Are Built to Last
LA TImes Saturday, April 8, 2000

He states the following after speaking of Born Againer's statistics_

"The picture isn't rosier for other Christians or Jews. The survey showed their divorce rates about the same as the national average."

The problem with these statistics is that those people with no religious ideas are unlikely to get married until the relationship has established itself. In other words it has already survived years of initial struggle. Therefore they shouldn't be getting divorced at the same rate as those who marry before starting to live together.

Weighing in this factor the statistics for those calling themselves "Christians" and Jews is far better than for those who aren't.

God (in the Law given to Moses) made it that people who have sex together (even once) were to marry and never divorce (Deut 23:28-29). So God sees these people as married. Considering the amount of people who just live together without marrying formally, and the amount of break-ups from those relationships, the real "divorce" rate is far higher. And considering that pre-marital sex is more likely to occur with non-religious people, the rate of real divorce among them is far higher still.

I must say on the other side though, that the amount of divorces among people who have gone to the temple isn't as good as the figures sound. The article goes on to say _

"There is a ray of marital hope, however. And that comes from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--specifically, from those Mormons who marry in a temple. While other Mormons divorce at the usual rate, only 6% of those who undergo the demanding temple marriage, break up, according to Brigham Young University professor Daniel K. Judd."

Sounds impressive, doesn't it? But I can't say that all is well in Zion, because this logic is flawed also. I know 4 people in my family that are still married in the temple but are legally divorced! 2 of them have re-married and their ex-spouses are still alive.

I could have a dozen temple marriages still valid and yet have a dozen legal divorces.

We'd need to start following God's directions in regard to marriage if we want great divorce figures. We need to revise our thinking. So here is some blunt advice that you will probably hate me for giving.

Women need conversation much more than we men do, even when you are tired. Women get stressed easily (as they run more on emotions); have patience and give them time to unwind using conversation. If your wife snaps at you, just say to yourself, "it must be that time of the month" (even if you know it isn't). Men can tend to feel that all is well when there are few arguments happening, where once there were more. This may not be the good sign you think it is. This often means that she is holding it all inside and is giving up (particularly where it is accompanied by less general conversation). Take her out and talk to her more, while you still have a wife.

That probably sounds good to the women. But now its your turn.

God declared man the RULER of the home (Gen 3:16, Moses 4:22), not a figurehead. Anyone telling you differently to God has got themselves confused. Women, you aren't men, stop trying to pretend you are one. You don't need a career other than learning to become mothers, wives and carers. Houses etc can be bought WHEN finances allow, not because you want one. Women, men don't believe that giving flowers and remembering dates means you love someone, so if they don't do these things all the time it doesn't mean they don't love you. Men also are entitled to a good break (often done by unwinding watching sport).