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This button is a resource to link those desiring baptism with those having authority to baptize. More information can be found here.

 

If you love me, receive instruction from me

John Hall and I were recently discussing the Gospel of John. He pointed out that Christ’s words: “If you love me, keep my commandments” appear several times in the Gospel.  He thought the words could be better translated to mean:  “If you love me, act as a sentinel (or guard) ready to receive further instructions from me.”
 
The current King James translation was based on the recognition that the cannon of scripture had closed and revelation had ended. Therefore they took those things into account as they rendered their translation.
 
For us, at least in theory, the cannon of scripture is not closed. Also, in theory, revelation is still possible.

There is an effort underway to redefine revelation and circumscribe its acceptable bounds. The coming view will be that revelation should only be expected which confirms that the church’s authorities are speaking for God, and anything direct from God has ended. God has finished His work, and now given His authority to man.  (2 Ne. 28: 5.)  If Nephi was a prophet (and he was) then that will become the church’s position at some point.

 
It is our responsibility to receive revelation.  It is also our responsibility to keep the narrowing boundaries as wide open as possible. Whatever the line is, you should live at that line to prevent it from drawing even tighter.

If you love Christ, stand as a sentinel ready to receive further instructions from Him.

D-Day

On this morning 66 years ago my father landed on Omaha Beach in the first wave of the invasion.  He was a combat engineer, with the responsibility to blow up obstacles on the beach to let the tanks and equipment move about unimpeded.  The battle, however, changed plans.  He and everyone else there that morning needed to focus on the incoming fire and staying alive.

It didn’t matter that the obstacles were left.  No tanks arrived on Omaha Beach that day.  The explosives were better used to clear away a path to the German emplacements on the top.

As my father was dying, nearly 50 years later, he wondered why his life was spared when so many of his friends died that day.  A few years later when Saving Private Ryan was released it very much reminded me of my father.

I think of him every June 6th.  It seems more clearly a day tied to him than either his birthday on February 20th or the day of his death November 20th.  What a great man he was.  Possessed with profound insight, tempered by the things he suffered, living in obscurity, quick to laugh, never angry and capable of giving wise advice.  In all my life, I only saw him angry one time.  But I think I heard him laugh every single day; oftentimes at himself.

Preaching the Gospel to all who are here

When I was over missionary work for my stake we would meet with the Mission President quarterly.  The “Spanish Language Initiative” was where the primary missionary success was taking place in an area from Idaho to Wyoming and throughout Utah. The justification for the Spanish Language Initiative was rather an excuse. The stated reason was: “Can you imagine what will happen to the home base of the church with so many moving in if there isn’t an effort made to convert them?”

Criticism has been leveled at the church for the eagerness with which the missionaries are being sent to teach illegal aliens. There are full time Spanish language missionaries being called to teach all over the United States. My wife has a friend living in Texas whose son was recently called to a Spanish language mission in Pocatello, Idaho.

Criticism has been based upon the Article of Faith which states we believe in “honoring, obeying and sustaining the law.” The criticism is that there is some hypocrisy in seeking out and baptizing those who are illegal. The process seems to be lawless rather than sustaining the law.

At one point the church announced that law enforcement officers, judges and State prosecutors would no longer be called to be Bishops or Stake Presidents because it presented a conflict of interest for them to be a presiding church official over those who they were required to enforce the law. I do not know if that policy still exists, but it was the policy for some time while I was on the High Council.

I’ve thought the church’s position was poorly articulated and deserving of criticism. The church ought to make a well-publicized statement justifying what is happening by adopting a straight-forward explanation that everyone can understand and agree is true. I wish they would announce the following, or something close to the following, as the their reason for the Spanish Language Initiative:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an obligation to proclaim the Gospel.  We believe in inviting all to come to the Gospel and be baptized.  We would preach the Gospel to anyone, regardless of their race or nationality, wherever situated.  Today there are millions of people welcomed into the United States by a national government that has refused to enforce any significant deterrent to cross-border crossing.  Although such entry is nominally “illegal,” even the current President of the United States, the country’s chief law enforcement official, has proclaimed it is in the best tradition of the American people to welcome immigrants to the country.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a law enforcement agency.  It is powerless to make or enforce any immigration law or policy.  If the national government does not prevent migration into the United States, we believe it is altogether appropriate to offer all who will receive the Gospel an opportunity to be taught and baptized here, just as we would do for the same people if they were located in another country.

This puts the responsibility upon the Federal government, where it belongs.  It shows the church is powerless to affect the outcome of the migration.  It also avoids the “can you imagine what it would be like if we didn’t work to convert them” excuse, and puts it into a positive and reasonable light.

I do not think the church’s actions deserve criticism.  I do, however, think they ought to be more forthright about justifying and defending the effort to convert those whose presence here is nominally illegal.  There’s nothing wrong about preaching to such people. 

Spring

Spring is nearly gone (the equinox is coming soon) and we didn’t get a garden planted until yesterday. We’ve had snow on our yard within the last three weeks. Late start.

The result of the abiding winter is nature has just begun to wake up.  The evergreens are shooting out their new season’s growth.  I’ve been noticing again how even the most prickly evergreens, like the Colorado Blue Spruces, are so soft and fern-like in their new shoots.  Pretty, and very soft and agreeable, in addition to being fragrant.  We still get glimpses of Eden in the Spring, even in this fallen world.

Just before dark takes over the neighborhood each night the quail are hooting to get back together again. They get separated during their daily foraging and then want to regroup as a family before nighttime slumber. They will get in a tree or on a rooftop and begin to hoot. They make a funny little call. You can tell by the answer coming back which ones belong together.  They hoot, get closer, re-call again, get closer, until finally they wind up together and quiet.

Deer have been wandering through the neighborhood all winter long. They seem to be clearing out now because the valley is getting warmer, and there’s new growth on the foothills from the melting snow. The mountain tops are still under many feet of snow, so the deer won’t really return to the high ground until another month or so.

There’s an order to all this stuff. Wild and uncontrolled nature is organized, orderly, intelligent and the animal kingdom is divided into families. They feel joy at their companionship with one another as they fill the measure of their creation.

I am grateful each night, too, as my family gathers together to see each of us has made it through the day safely. There’s a Divine hand that can be seen in family life.  Even when there is difficulty and disappointment, the family is tied together by God and nature.

Weep for Zion for Zion has fled

It may as well be a dream.  It involves our collective slumber.  We get pictures in our head when we are taught some truth and presume that the picture is accurate.  Then after we have repeated the “truth” often enough, we go on to believe the picture must be all-inclusive.

Once we’ve arrived at that point, the truth no longer matters. Our minds are made up. We’ve decided the answers, and no further evidence will be considered.

This certainty is reinforced when more people reach the same conclusion because they share the same picture in their head. You get together with others and testify that you are all in possession of the truth; not only the truth, but ALL of the truth. Before long every one of the group can pass a lie-detector test about the truth as they explain it.

As a result, this herd is incapable of ever seeing the picture differently. They cannot open their minds to the idea that their picture is skewed or off. It is most certainly incomplete.  It is, in fact, so far short of the whole story that when any part of the remaining, missing information is shown to them they are certain it is a lie.

It is painful to part with our suppositions and the traditions we hold dear.  It is painful to admit there may be much more of the picture we have not yet considered, much less seen.  It causes anxiety and fear. So much fear in fact, that when it comes to “eternal truth,” people literally put their lives in jeopardy if they denounce the falsehoods of the herd and proclaim the truth to those whose peace of mind and self-identity is tied to the incomplete and misleading picture they believe holds all truth.

Latter-day Saints are not immune from this process. We have wanted a complete, well defined statement of our faith since the time of Joseph Smith. We crave an “orthodox” faith so we, like the Historic Christians, can proclaim what is true and right and what is error and heresy. It gives us security. It is false security, purchased at the price of closed minds. It gives us hope. It is false hope, based on the foolishness of the deluded.

As we water down even further the true principles of what our faith contains by requiring Relief Society and High Priests to labor over a Gospel Essentials Manual as the sole fodder for our spiritual fare, we strain every particle of solid food out of the diet. The remaining gruel is so thin, lacking in substance, that we become universally malnourished. Yet in that emaciated state, as our bellies distend from the bloating of starvation, we all proclaim how well fed we are. Our bellies are swollen!  We have enough of the word of God!  We need no more of the word of God!  All is well!  Better than well, we prosper in the land of promise!

When you surrender your superstitions and arrogance and read the scriptures for the first time with an open mind, they will astonish you. They will condemn you. They will demand you repent, open your heart, and receive more. They will offer you the bread of life, a living fountain of revelation from which, if you draw, you will find not only sustenance, but also the capacity to recognize that there are those who are starving.


We still weep for Zion; for Zion has fled.

Try reading Alma Chapter 13 and take LITERALLY every word there. Don’t bring any pictures in your head and read them into the text. Forget every popular and correlated notion ever spoken about the priesthood for a moment and just look at the words. You will be shocked.  If you can bring yourself to do that, then read the Book of Mormon again. It was written for our day, testifying against us. A former group of inhabitants who failed and were destroyed wrote their best advice and sent it to us.  We are the ones being warned. We are in a great deal of peril. Our church, if the Book of Mormon is true, is filled with corruption and priestcraft.


Or, on the other hand, just chant that “you know (insert the subject of choice here) is true” and throw about the “name of Jesus Christ” as you do.  It is a tried and true mantra, which when repeated often enough, can dull the senses and reinstate the slumber we are so often wrapped.  So relax.  Hum to yourself a hymn and you will soon be back asleep.

Weep for Zion for Zion has fled

It may as well be a dream.  It involves our collective slumber.  We get pictures in our head when we are taught some truth and presume that the picture is accurate.  Then after we have repeated the “truth” often enough, we go on to believe the picture must be all-inclusive.

Once we’ve arrived at that point, the truth no longer matters. Our minds are made up. We’ve decided the answers, and no further evidence will be considered.

This certainty is reinforced when more people reach the same conclusion because they share the same picture in their head. You get together with others and testify that you are all in possession of the truth; not only the truth, but ALL of the truth. Before long every one of the group can pass a lie-detector test about the truth as they explain it.

As a result, this herd is incapable of ever seeing the picture differently. They cannot open their minds to the idea that their picture is skewed or off. It is most certainly incomplete.  It is, in fact, so far short of the whole story that when any part of the remaining, missing information is shown to them they are certain it is a lie.

It is painful to part with our suppositions and the traditions we hold dear.  It is painful to admit there may be much more of the picture we have not yet considered, much less seen.  It causes anxiety and fear. So much fear in fact, that when it comes to “eternal truth,” people literally put their lives in jeopardy if they denounce the falsehoods of the herd and proclaim the truth to those whose peace of mind and self-identity is tied to the incomplete and misleading picture they believe holds all truth.

Latter-day Saints are not immune from this process. We have wanted a complete, well defined statement of our faith since the time of Joseph Smith. We crave an “orthodox” faith so we, like the Historic Christians, can proclaim what is true and right and what is error and heresy. It gives us security. It is false security, purchased at the price of closed minds. It gives us hope. It is false hope, based on the foolishness of the deluded.

As we water down even further the true principles of what our faith contains by requiring Relief Society and High Priests to labor over a Gospel Essentials Manual as the sole fodder for our spiritual fare, we strain every particle of solid food out of the diet. The remaining gruel is so thin, lacking in substance, that we become universally malnourished. Yet in that emaciated state, as our bellies distend from the bloating of starvation, we all proclaim how well fed we are. Our bellies are swollen!  We have enough of the word of God!  We need no more of the word of God!  All is well!  Better than well, we prosper in the land of promise!

When you surrender your superstitions and arrogance and read the scriptures for the first time with an open mind, they will astonish you. They will condemn you. They will demand you repent, open your heart, and receive more. They will offer you the bread of life, a living fountain of revelation from which, if you draw, you will find not only sustenance, but also the capacity to recognize that there are those who are starving.


We still weep for Zion; for Zion has fled.

Try reading Alma Chapter 13 and take LITERALLY every word there. Don’t bring any pictures in your head and read them into the text. Forget every popular and correlated notion ever spoken about the priesthood for a moment and just look at the words. You will be shocked.  If you can bring yourself to do that, then read the Book of Mormon again. It was written for our day, testifying against us. A former group of inhabitants who failed and were destroyed wrote their best advice and sent it to us.  We are the ones being warned. We are in a great deal of peril. Our church, if the Book of Mormon is true, is filled with corruption and priestcraft.


Or, on the other hand, just chant that “you know (insert the subject of choice here) is true” and throw about the “name of Jesus Christ” as you do.  It is a tried and true mantra, which when repeated often enough, can dull the senses and reinstate the slumber we are so often wrapped.  So relax.  Hum to yourself a hymn and you will soon be back asleep.

Have a joyful Saturday

I have a dear friend whose daughter is getting married this month.  I look forward to driving out to the wedding.  We’re planning to take my wife’s Mini-Cooper and leave the top down.  A day’s worth of driving to and from the wedding is about as delightful a thing as I can imagine at the moment.  I don’t care if we’re driving at night, the seats have electric heaters and the stars overhead are as interesting as the daytime sky. More so in fact.

The greatest things we possess are our families and friends. They matter. They can endure to all eternity. Nothing will come with us from this fallen world other than the friends and family we acquire, the lessons we have learned, the covenants made with and ratified by the Lord, and the kind acts we have done.  Everything else will dissolve back into the dust of this world.

Have a joyful Saturday.  Do something kind for someone who dislikes you.  Do something generous for someone who loves you.  Go to bed tonight knowing that if this day were the one day chosen to judge your character that it is your best. Make the day holy by the way you live, the words you speak and the thoughts you entertain.

Heaven is stirred and Hell itself is shaken when even one soul lives such a day.

“Power” or “Authority”

In the church we have a regular system for ordination to give someone priesthood authority.  It requires the candidate to be interviewed, found worthy, recommended by the presiding authorities (Bishop or Stake President) to a congregation who sustains the ordination before it is performed.  The ordination takes place by the laying on of hands, is recorded, and a certificate is issued to the one ordained.
 
In contrast, the Lord’s ordination among the Nephites required only His word to be spoken, and power was conferred:
 
“And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him. And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.” (3 Ne. 11: 20-22)

 

It is interesting that the word used in His conferral of priestly right was “power” and not “authority.”  Consider the difference.  Consider what it means for the Lord to speak unto a man and tell him that he has “power” from the Lord.
 
Is there a difference between having the “authority” to baptize, as we spread it about in the church today, and having the “power” to baptize as conferred by Christ?  If there is, then what is that difference?
 
Good questions to ponder.  Particularly as you consider President Packer’s timely reminder of the general lack of power in the priesthood of today’s church in his recent General Conference address, “Power in the Priesthood.” 
 

“And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?”

Every one of us needs to be challenged.  None of us should be complacent about how we live, the words we speak or write, and the thoughts we entertain.  If this blog does not stir you up and make you reconsider what you are doing and how you are living your life everyday, then it is a waste of time.  If I am not personally challenging you, then I am not worth taking the time to read.
 
It is a doctrine of the devil to tell you that “all is well.”  (2 Ne. 28: 20-21.) The obligation of any true messenger is to continually cry repentance. Satan employs ministers to satisfy itching ears with a smooth message.  (2 Tim. 4: 3.)  They lead people carefully down to hell.  The Lord commissions His messengers to deliver the opposite message. If I am really engaged in working for Him, then the words should challenge, even offend you.
 
Only fools think there are institutional prerogatives that entitle people to God’s favor.  There is no magic ordinance. There is no certificate that can be issued to you or your group, by any person or institution, that entitles you to enter heaven. It does not exist. Those who believe there is some institutional voodoo that will guarantee you entrance into heaven are sadly mistaken.
 
Assume for a moment that you have indeed been given by the Father the promise of eternal life, what then?  Are you entitled to rest while all around you the world is filled with unsaved souls?  (Alma 13: 12.) Does such a promise remain yours if you do not labor all your remaining days to cry repentance and bring others to the tree of life so they may partake?  Having entered into the Lord’s “rest,” does not the heir then owe it to everyone else they meet for the remainder of their lives to bring them with them?  (D&C 18: 15.)
 
There is no hour here when we are not in jeopardy.  (1 Cor. 15: 30.)

So when you read something on this blog or in a book I have written which challenges you, brings you up short, or makes you think that I may be speaking about you, then I have succeeded.  On the other hand, if you believe you are justified by what you read here, then you miss entirely the obligation incumbent on both of us.

 
We all need to repent. If the Lord has extended to you the promise of eternal life, then you have moved to another plane of growth and challenge. That great promise opens the door for you to struggle and grow in your comprehension of what He has done.  You still must learn how to exercise the new prerogatives given to you in the proper way. The challenges will not relent. We are designed for growth. It will not come to an end in this life. It is to prepare us for something far greater. (D&C 132: 20.)  We must become as He is to be like Him.  (1 John 3: 1-3.)