Life here is complex and sometimes difficult. You have both moral and legal obligations which every one of us owe to society, to employment, to friends and neighbors, the Church, the government, the civil and criminal law and taxing authorities. Some obligations are not “moral,” but nevertheless binding and controlling. Being taxed, for example, is not a moral matter, but it is a legal matter. Governments obligate their citizens to pay them and all citizens are required to do so. No matter what your standing before God may be, you are going to have to pay taxes. Christ made that clear when He paid taxes and responded to the question about taxes by confirming the obligation. (See Matt. 22: 15-22.)
The promises of God are helpful in enduring to the end. But they have no value here apart from peace of mind. They are not “property” which this world will value highly. They are for the coming life.
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I was asked about the creation account being tied to ritual initiation ceremonies. All the ancient accounts of creation were given in connection with initiations or ceremonial rites. That is true of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Israelites, Babylonians, Hopis, etc. The ritualized explanation of the origin of human life is tied together with the meaning of life, and obligations about how life was to be lived, and what the afterlife will hold. The restored Temple rights are consistent with the most ancient of traditions.
Interestingly, the rites of the Masons do not have this basic orientation, and are therefore not part of the tradition from which the endowment ceremony springs.
We returned from Las Vegas. I have an assortment of observations:
They didn’t have a law school there just a few years ago, and lawyers were scarce. They’ve been able to make up for the shortage I can tell from the billboards. Lawyers do traffic tickets for $50 and DUI’s for $700. They get catchy phone numbers like 444-4444; and if you want a “half-priced” one he’s 400-4000. Not sure what a half-priced lawyer amounts to.
Sex still sells, apparently. At least the advertisers think so. I wonder if Lot would live in Las Vegas were he alive today.
I walked through the casino to the hotel elevator carrying my scriptures, baggage and in company with my wife and four daughters. I assume we were as much a spectacle to the patrons as the patrons were to us.
While there must be a few folks for whom gambling offers some sort of glamor, I did not detect much of that. Mostly you could see boredom or desperation on the faces of the typical patron.
They don’t pay the girls who deal on the blackjack tables enough to dress properly. Poor things only have a tiny remnant of a pair of levis on, not enough to cover their underwear. Their exposed garters and fishnet stockings betray a style dating back to the 1960’s. They were practically unclad on top, as well. I assume these hallmarks of poverty betray an employer who is exploiting their labor without appropriate remuneration.
The baseball was fun, but Alta went 2-2. Still searching for the right combination in the batting lineup and trying to fill a gap at 3rd base still, too. They’ll get there. Now we’re back in Salt Lake for some more ‘snowball.
General Conference was broadcast live on the TV, but I couldn’t find either an AM or FM station carrying it on the radio. I wondered why that was.
The LDS Temple is pointed out on the top of the Stratosphere Hotel as a point of interest. I thought that was interesting.
I noticed an older couple wearing newly-wed attire. They both had enough miles on them to make them either eternal optimists about the state of matrimony or habitual about their marital affairs. I like to think them optimists.
Ideas are things. Real things. They come into existence as we create them. They will become subject to the judgment of God, because our thoughts are perhaps the most real part of us. (See Alma 12: 14.)
We should guard our thoughts as we guard the lives of our children. Our thoughts hold the key to everything else.
This is so important a matter that the Lord tied knowledge of priesthood itself to the thoughts we entertain in the privacy of our minds. Only when our thoughts are worthy are we able to bear the presence of God. (D&C 121: 45.)
If you study the scriptures and then meditate upon them also. You will only develop power within as you do so.
The ward I live in has been an exporter of fast offering donations for decades. I don’t think there has been a time since it’s beginning when we haven’t exported fast offering donations. Two weeks ago in a meeting with the Priest’s Quorum, our bishop remarked that we are using nearly all the fast offering contributions inside our own ward to meet family needs of our own neighbors.
This economy has affected the church’s “breadbasket” along the Wasatch Front. The church is able to project international efforts because of the tithing of the saints in Utah. When Utah’s economy falters, the church is affected.
The last report the US Government released (that I saw) announced that tax collections were down 40%. If tax revenues are down by this much, tithing contributions must bear some proportion near to that.
The US has been blessed for the sake of the church. When we do not merit blessings, judgments follow. The economic prosperity of the US has not been because we are better than other people, but because it furthers the Lord’s purposes. When you view our current circumstances in moral terms, then we should ask what we need to do to merit further blessings from the Lord.
There are no private sins. We have only the illusion of privacy. All eternity looks on at us, at times in complete wonder at our astonishing pride and vanity.
There are different versions of the creation. The Moses, Abraham and Genesis accouts are similar in putting Adam alone at the point when the commandment was given to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The Temple account does not preserve this.
All the accounts are intended as initiation ceremonies. In the Abraham account, for example, there are directions given to the players who perform the ceremony. They are all “endowment” documents.
Each ceremony can be viewed as a separate revelation. The fact that there are differences means nothing. All of them are intended to highlight or emphasize different teachings. It is foolish to ask “which one is right” because they are all right.
The creation (or transplant of man onto this world) is not really the reason for the various ceremonial accounts of the event. They are intended to orient us to how we got here (by a deliberate, planned act of God), why were are here (to find our way back to God) and why conditions here are difficult (to gain knowledge of good and evil). The accounts are really about us. Each of us was born innocent in the beginning, gradually become accountable, feel ourselves outside the presence of God, and must work to return.
As the Apostle John closes his Gospel, he adds this comment: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written ever one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” (John 21: 25.)
In D&C 7’s headnote we read that Section 7 is a “translated version of the record made on parchment by John and hidden up.”
In D&C 93 we read, “John saw and bore record of the fulness of my glory, and the fulness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed. And he bore record, saying: …” (D&C 93: 6-7.) From verses 7 through 18 it is an excerpt from John’s more complete, and as yet unrevealed account.
[Bruce R. McConkie concluded that this was the testimony of John the Baptist, and not John the Beloved. I have accepted Elder McConkie’s position in books I have written, however, I believe the account in Section 93 is more likely John the Beloved’s record. Since the issue is only a 3 to me on the earlier scale I proposed, I have simply accepted Elder McConkie’s view in what I have written.]
John likely had a good deal more to add concerning the Savior, but deliberately withheld it. Similarly, we have the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon as a reminder that not everything has been revealed to us which prior generations had given to them.
We ought to have a bit more humility about our “Restoration” than we have. The fact is, we have never been given what the ancients were trusted to possess. We have never been equal to them. We certainly aren’t now. Until we take seriously the Book of Mormon (which will require us to both repent and become more humble than we’ve ever been), we aren’t qualified to receive more. (See, e.g., 3 Ne. 26: 7-12; D&C 84: 54-58.)
Of what then do we have to boast?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a three-year system for collecting and spending tithes.
In the first year the funds are collected.
In the second year the funds remain invested while a budget is prepared for spending the tithing.
In the third year the funds are spent.
During the time when the funds are collected (first year), they are put to use in investments or deposits which yield a return. Similarly, while they remain invested during the second year, they also yield a return. When the third year arrives, and the funds are being spent on budgeted expenses, until the day they are spent they continue to collect interest or a return.
The amount of tithing collected in the first year is the amount designated “tithing” contributions. This is the amount that is budgeted and spent in the third year. All of the return on tithing yielded in the form of interest or return on investments is treated as “investment income” not tithing.
When the church spends “tithing” on temples, chapels, publications, etc. those monies are confined to the original amount collected as “tithing” only.
When the church spends “investment money” those include the interest, return, etc. collected on the tithing money during the three year cycle from when originally collected until the time it is spent. It also includes the returns on the returns as they accumulate over the years.
Therefore, when the church announces that a project (like the large reconstruction of downtown Salt Lake City) is not “tithing” but is “investment income” of the church, this is the distinction which is being made.
Because of a question contained in the comments section under an earlier post, I am adding this explanation:
Elder Mark E. Peterson explained his view regarding the Second Comforter (a visitation by Jesus Christ with a believer) in conversations of his which have been repeated to me. He had been asked about the issue, and explained his view to those who asked. He believed that the Second Comforter experience was not available to Gentiles. He quoted 3 Nephi 15: 20-24 as the basis for his view, which includes this statement by Christ to the Nephites at the time of His appearance at the Temple in Bountiful: “they understood not that the Gentiles should be converted through their preaching. And they understood not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice– that I should not manifest myself unto them save it be by the Holy Ghost.”
I interpret the above quote differently than Elder Peterson. It is my view that this statement made by Christ was explaining His immediate post-resurrection appearances. Those were limited to the scattered sheep of Israel. These scattered sheep were unknown to each other, and therefore “lost” from each other’s knowledge. However, they remained (just as the Nephites) in organized and believing bodies of scattered Israelites. It was to these organized bodies alone that the risen Savior’s ministry extended immediately following His resurrection.
In contrast, in the latter-days the prophecies are to the contrary. In the latter days, Christ’s appearances as the Second Comforter have been without regard to any limitation of who may be visited. Now, those who believe who are identified with the Gentiles, are grafted into the branches of Israel and become part of the covenant people. (See e.g., 1 Ne. 10: 14.)
With respect to the Gentiles in our day, it is promised directly to them by the Lord, through Nephi, that His appearances will include Gentiles, in very deed: “And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks–” (1 Ne. 14: 1.) This is that day.
According to the Moses account of the creation, at the time the commandment was given to “not eat of” the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the woman had not been created. (Moses 3: 15-17.) It was after giving Adam this commandment that the woman was created. (Moses 3: 21-23.)
Eve’s knowledge of the commandment came from Adam, not from God.
God’s commandment to Adam was: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The restriction placed on Adam was to “NOT EAT” of the fruit of that tree.
Adam’s explanation to Eve was different. Eve explained her understanding to the serpent when the serpent tempted her: “God hath said–Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Moses 4: 9.) Eve’s understanding of the commandment varied from what had been given to Adam by the addition of the words: “NEITHER SHALL YE TOUCH OF IT.”
Adam added to the Lord’s commandment. This additional precaution was the error which set the transgression in motion. For when Eve saw the serpent touching the fruit and not dying, it lent credibility to the assertion that “ye shall not surely die.” (Moses 4: 10.) Being innocent, and therefore vulnerable to deception, Eve could not know she was confronting a lie. Instead she saw with her own eyes that the commandment “not to touch” clearly did not result in death.
One of the great lessons of the Moses account is that adding to the commandments of God, no matter how well intentioned, is going to lead to error if not tragedy. We do as He asks. Without adding to, nor subtracting from what He has bid us to do, we should follow what we are asked by Him.
We cannot improve on His commandments. We cannot build a fence around His commandments by adding other precautions, gestures, supplements, or restrictions. When we do that we produce excess, rigidity, unintended consequences and error. We teach for doctrines the commandments of men. Inevitably leading to a form of godliness without any power. It’s an historic path to failure, diminishing power in the priesthood until it is gone altogether. Detracting from our spiritual as well as physical health. Removing our strength. Corrupting our posterity, as they are distracted from what they should receive as they seek for what they cannot attain by “some other way.”
I rather like Moses’ account.
The great latter day “pollutions” referred to by Mormon in Mormon 8: 31 are the behaviors of men; not environmental waste. Mormon identifies what those “pollutions” are: “murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations.”
Those are harsh indictments. But it becomes even more harsh when Mormon identifies US as the culprits. He calls us “pollutions.” He tells us we have polluted the “holy Church of God.” That can only mean the Restored Church. Sobering indeed.
“O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God?” (Mormon 8: 38.) Remember that Mormon saw us. Jesus Christ showed Mormon US. He was in a unique position to accurately tell us what ails us. (Mormon 8: 35.)
So why do we think ourselves in good spiritual condition? Why are we confident we aren’t condemned by the Lord? Why do we presume that as Latter-day Saints we are safe. Why do we think Mormon is talking to all those other churches; churches who will never read his book, and therefore cannot be warned by it? It defies common sense, really.
We are in a lot of trouble. He’s trying to help us. How foolish to think we can line up beside him and point the finger away from ourselves. He won’t let us do that, you know. He’s pointing the finger right at us.
April General Conference is upon us. I’m hoping to be able to see or hear some of it while at an out-of-state baseball tournament set for this weekend.
We have a tradition of attending General Priesthood meeting at the BYU Marriott Center. I’m worried that I won’t be back in time for that session. I always like to attend with a larger group, and since you don’t need tickets to attend at BYU, I like going there. All my sons grew up with this tradition.
If you’re in Utah County or Salt Lake County, I recommend it. Outside of the Conference Center itself, I think it is the largest single body of priesthood attending that session of conference.