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Upcoming General Conference

I’ve heard from several sources that Elder Russell M. Nelson has announced to a number of Stake Presidents that President Thomas S. Monson has received a revelation that will affect every man, woman, and child in the church. This revelation is supposed to be announced in the upcoming general conference.

The last great revelatory program introduced in general conference was the Perpetual Education Fund announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley. That program is profoundly Christ-like.

During His ministry, Christ blessed lives in practical ways. He cured lepers; allowing them to return to society. He cured blindness; rescuing the blessed from darkness. He cured the lame; liberating them from physical captivity. His goodness conferred life-changing blessings, making practical changes to the lives of those he blessed.

Similarly, the Perpetual Education Fund has conferred practical, life-changing blessings. It mirrors the way Christ blessed people.

Not all beneficiaries of the Perpetual Education Fund have repaid their interest-free loans. Not all have remained active in the church. That is of no consequence. The goodness of the program is in the giving of the blessing. It does not matter whether those who are blessed are grateful. The church’s (our) acts of Christ-like generosity is unchanged whether the beneficiary ever returns to thank us. Nine of the ten lepers never thanked the Lord. There is little evidence in the scriptures of the many who were healed by the Lord then becoming faithful disciples. The program is Christ-like. Its greatness consists in conferring a blessing. The Lord gives the sunshine and rain to all, the good and the bad. Very few are grateful to Him for that. It does not stop Him from being good and continuing in sustaining us all from moment to moment.

I encourage all to listen to upcoming general conference.

A number of clarifications from this week

It is impossible in a short post to ever discuss any subject completely. For the most part, all posts are a abbreviated ideas to cause anyone who reads this to think. I want the reader to turn ideas over in their own minds, and reach their own conclusion, after hopefully being provoked to thought by what I say. It is a mistake to think because I have said one thing that I have then said everything.

To illustrate and hopefully clarify, and certainly cause further thought, I want to add the following comments. These are taken from input I received this week from some of you.
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I pray to the Father in the name of the Son. In my mind I think of the Father. I let heaven speak to my heart concerning that name-title and I do not presume to have the right to tell anyone what comes into my mind. I also thank the Father for the sacrifice of His Son.

I would add that “El” is singular. “Elohim” is plural. In Abraham 3, there is a group identified as “the noble and great.” The noble and great are the “we” who are to prove “them.” This is in Abraham 3.

When the matter is settled, in chapter 4 of Abraham, that “we” or “the noble and great” commence the creation, and that group throughout Abraham 4 are continually referred to as “the Gods.” The English term “the Gods” captures the same idea as the Hebrew word “Elohim.”

If you have not read The First Three Words of the Endowment, you may want to do so. **
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It would be an astonishing, but not completely unprecedented, if one of the “sons of God” were to fall away. Were that to happen, the heavens would weep over him.
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When Christ says that no man “comes unto the Father but by [Him]”, this implicitly means that Christ will at some point take you to His Father.

When Christ promised not to leave us “comfortless”, he added that “my Father will love him, and we come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23). Joseph Smith added “the appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old secterian notion, and is false.” (D&C 130: 3).

Joseph affirms he “saw two Personages.”

It is more important that you come unto Christ and you allow Him to teach you these things. Pray to the Father in His name, ask Him, listen to Him. It is Christ alone who is responsible for the salvation of each of us. Read the scriptures carefully. In fact, if you will pray and study your scriptures diligently, He will open up to your mind the meaning of the more mysterious passages and use the words of the Prophets found in our scriptures to answer your questions. Do much more of that. There is no man who is a substitute for Jesus Christ. **
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I agree that the purpose of keys, and in particular priesthood keys, is to confer an authoritative invitation to the recipient from God.
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I would not encourage anyone to leave the church. It was commissioned by and still authorized by God. The majority has always had a divine preference and protecting hand. Splinter groups have always dwindled or fallen into abuse and corruption. The August 1844 vote in Nauvoo was the right of the saints under the Lord’s law of “common consent.” I believe the Lord did accept the vote. Whatever shortcomings that generation had, they were only like all of humanity. Our Lord suffered for all imperfect people. But He also will discipline and correct us, even if He needs to use a rod to do so.
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In my thinking, a “President” or a “candidate to be the President” is a figure head. Once a man is elected to be the President of the United States, he is referred to as “the “Administration.” I believe there is a great difference between a man, on the one hand, and “the President of the United States”, or “the Administration”, on the other.

Let me see if I can illustrate the point.

I think President Jimmy Carter was a failure. I think he was an embarrassment as an administration throughout the world. President Jimmy Carter made so many errors that in my mind I have little hesitation in thinking of him as foolish. In short, my regard for President Jimmy Carter borders on exasperation and deep disappointment.

In contrast, the man Jimmy Carter is principled, devoted, and admirable. As a man he possesses basic goodness. I think he is good-hearted.

Bear that distinction in mind. My comments concerning Mitt Romney had nothing to do with the man, and everything to do with the “the candidate”, and the representative of a proposed “new Administration.” Like Jimmy Carter, if I change the topic from the Candidate, to the man Mitt Romney, it’s a different topic.

If you watched the GOP convention, before Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech, there were many who had the opportunity to describe Mitt Romney, the man. He is a compassionate and exemplary Mormon bishop. He rendered kind, compassionate and loving support to members of his ward while he was bishop and for years afterwards. While those people were speaking, the camera panned the audience. There were many in the audience who were moved to tears as they listened to those people speak. Mitt Romney, the man, seems to me to be an example of how all bishops should be. More than that, he seems to be an example of what all of us should be.

When I said that I wish Mitt Romney did not represent my faith, I had exclusive reference to “the candidate” and not the man.

I know you cannot read my mind. So that is probably my communication failure. As to Mitt Romney the man, I am grateful he is a member of my faith.

I could write pages more. I am only offering a glimpse.
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When I am in the voting booth, (and I always vote) I have never voted for evil. Therefore, I have never voted for the “lesser of two evils.”

While I don’t think it is anyone’s business, over the years I have voted for, among other people, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, written in Lee Iacocca and former LDS church historian, Marlin Jensen. As I cast these votes, I always thought I voted for someone who would be wise and good.

That post did not represent a decision about anything. That post represented musings I thought might be helpful to others.

In addition, I hoped there would be some few who might read that post and detect some layers. For anyone who would be open to the idea, I think you could well consider those musings to be about you, me, or all of us. What ultimately turns into the “Administration” almost always reflects quite accurately a collective decision. In other words, we always give the power to the “Administration” that we deserve to have lead us.

We have made thousands of decisions, and cast millions of votes to place the Candidate Romney at the head of a political party. That is us.

**[There is nothing inconsistent in these two statements. If you can’t understand it, it is because you will not ask and allow God to enlighten your mind. Remember, I am not trying to get you to understand what I understand. I am trying to get you to open your heart, your mind; look to heaven for guidance and get answers to anything you don’t understand.]

“Leaning” Romney

I am not particularly political. Political partisanship is generally a distraction from what our problems really are. Once you have become partisan you tend to ignore the merits of the other side, as well as the mistakes of your own side.

We must all become converted in our hearts to Jesus Christ. If we have Christ in our hearts, all else will follow. Joseph Smith’s comment that he “teaches them correct principles and they govern themselves” was not just a casual statement. It was the confidence a prophet of God in the ability of people to know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong. Even if they err, they would get closer to the correct course by considering the principles they had been taught than by assessing the argument or immediate decision before them.

When a man is converted to truth, correct principles, and true doctrine, such a man has no difficulty stating in simple, but clear terms, the truth which inhabits his heart.

Mitt Romney has been running to be the President of the United States for 5 years now. In all of that time, I find myself unconvinced that his heart is filled with sound, true, heartfelt principles and doctrines. Why can’t he set forth in plainness true economic doctrine as well as I can? His background should qualify him to speak with greater plainness about the truths of economic freedom and the principles of economic growth better than I can. He does not. At times he is almost incoherent.

There are fundamental and universal God-given principles for the preservation of the freedom of mankind. Madison, Monroe, Jefferson, Washington, Mason, and the great John Adams could all state with clarity and simplicity, with the beauty that persuades you to your very core, these God-given truths. Why is Mitt Romney unable to do so?

In his first term, President Obama experimented with turning a soft hand to the Muslim world. It was something new. Although it failed, the virulent critics immediately labeled it “an apology tour.” No one had any idea how the Cairo speech might move the Muslim hearts. Instead of condemning and even rooting for its failure, we should have prayed to God that our President would move the Muslim world. We should have asked God to soften the hearts of our enemies. We should asked God to embolden our friends. Instead we withheld our sustaining prayers, and in contempt, we let the matter proceed to its now complete failure.

Thinking upon the failure of that experiment, I recall how clearly Richard Nixon articulated, and Henry Kissinger elaborated, on the effective policy of projecting national strength to our enemies. Whatever terrible flaws Richard Nixon had, he was convinced to his core, and able to persuasively articulate the truth of national power in the international arena. After our national humiliation under Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan was elected in very large part because he could speak the principles of American power persuasively, convincingly, and from his heart.

Mitt Romney is unable to do this.

As I listen to Mitt Romney speak about any topic, principle, or true doctrine, he seems hollow. He sounds more like a spokesman for the opinions of others than a man speaking from his heart. He sounds like the chairman of a committee. He sounds like he is trying to use focus group phrases. He seems to be using the results of opinion polls to formulate his public statements. In short, he seems more like an artificial life form then a principled, true-hearted, complete convert to God given truths, proven economic doctrines, and historically successful foreign policy.

This leaves me wondering:
-It is not “who” but rather “what” am I electing?
-Is this a man with a true and converted heart and soul, or is this a weather vane prepared to be tossed to and fro with every wind of shifting opinion?
-Is he, as I suspect, double-minded and unstable as water?

If opinions shift on something which is absolutely fundamental and God-given to preserve man’s freedom, will that popularity shift cause him to surrender such a principle?

Why should I regard him as something more than an empty suit espousing, without the conviction I can feel in my own heart, the results of market driven research?

I am “leaning” Romney. That is because I believe all of the quantitative easing has not worked and has hurt us all very much. This I could explain with simplicity, but that’s beyond this post. I believe President Obama’s soft approach foreign policy has utterly failed. I believe the stock market is over-priced, and nothing more than a politically manipulated show piece for the President’s sake. I believe shutting down the pipeline was an act completely contrary to our national interest, and has resulted in increased gas prices to every American. Mitt Romney criticizes each of these things. But he sounds more like a puppet than a man of principle with a converted heart. To me, if in the end I vote for Mitt Romney, it will only be as a choice of the lesser of two evils. How I wish he were not Mormon. I think he represents the religion of conviction, devotion, and true principles (the ones which reside in my heart) in such an embarrassingly weak way that if taken as an example of our people should engender contempt and disrespect. He is like the progressively less principled Joel Osteen. As Mr. Osteen’s  popularity has risen, and his wealth has increased (he now lives in a $10 million dollar home) the principles he used to preach have eroded, softened, and been abandoned. He is a living example of the very problem Mitt Romney’s behavior now puts on display.

May God have mercy on us all. May we all look to our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, for our salvation – both temporal and spiritual. Even so, Amen.

Christ the Father

After Christ redeems the brother of Jared from the fall (Ether 3:13), He explains to the brother of Jared the doctrine of Christ’s Fatherhood. The doctrine is simple. It is an elaboration on what Christ taught in the New Testament.

Here is the doctrine: “Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.” (Ether 3:14). In other words, because of our sins and the fall we have experienced, our relationship as sons and daughters of the Father cannot be restored without an intermediary who is willing to cleanse us and to accept us as His son.

This is what Jesus had reference to in John 14:6 when He declared: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” If you find yourself in the circumstance that a voice from heaven declares unto you that you are a son of God because this day He has begotten you (Psalms 2:7) that voice will be Christ’s, your Father will be Christ, and you will understand that Christ is the Father and the Son.

An unknown piece of music

Sunday night I was up late praying and thinking about many things. Sometime shortly after midnight I quieted down and began listening carefully to KBYU FM (classical 89.1) which had been playing in the background. As I listened, they played a piece that sounded to me like it was played on a french horn. Most of the piece was a solo. The piece was delicate, despite the instrument, and it soared and delivered runs of delicate notes. It was astonishing that these notes could come from such a limited instrument. Now I know that there are competent french horn players, and that with practice it is possible to acquire this kind of skill and delicacy with a somewhat cumbersome instrument.

When the piece ended, the KBYU announcer, Peter Van de Graff, informed me that this piece had been played on the tuba. This stunned me. I have never met nor heard any one who can take that heavy, cumbersome and relatively inarticulate instrument and turn it into something that can play music wihch can soar into the skies and dance about like a piccolo. Here are a couple of examples: Baaddsvick and Marshall. The tuba is primarily a percussion instrument. It is like a bass guitar in a rock and roll band. They both thump out a foundation upon which the rest of the orchestra or rock band build melodies. While they exist, there are comparatively few bass guitar solos in rock music. The bass player for Primas, Les Claypool, is a rare exception, but even his amazing gift is mostly percussion. Moving them out of that role is akin to asking Andre the Giant to perform ballet.

As I pondered this, it struck me how very like the heavy, inarticulate, restricted instrument mankind is. But a skilled musician took the very same thing which in normal use gives merely a pounding back beat and brought it front and center in a solo that soared to heaven. If such skill can bring the tuba into submission, then with practice, diligence, desire and the help of God, we can likewise bring ourselves into harmony with God. All things typify Christ and the Gospel. Even that wonderful piece played on a tuba.

My vision of how high man can soar was ratified anew in the testimony of that skilled musician. I believe once we find it is possible to delicately soar in concert with heaven and enjoy the thrilling harmony in God’s creation, that alone should help us rise up. May we each have the humility and the patience and undertake the long-suffering to change our clumsy efforts into a delicate symphony, even so amen.

The Equinox

This coming weekend will mark the final Equinox of the year. One in the spring, marking the change from winter to spring, and this one marking the change from summer to fall. Apart from separating our designation of the seasons, these times also represent the most colorful times of the year. New and colorful life in nature stirs with the promise of fruit, flowers and planting. In contrast, the coming event marks the harvest when nature’s bounty is gathered. In an agrarian society it is a time to enjoy the fruit, work is reduced, and the brilliant colors of a season well spent in growth shows its retirement for a time.

The fall Equinox is the time when, year after year, the Angel visited with Joseph. It is also when the plates were turned over to Joseph in that final year. This may not be mere coincidence. Every Equinox marks the balance of light and dark all over the world. From the North Pole to the South Pole, every place is in harmony with the sun. Wherever man lives, they receive the light equally; twelve hours of light and twelve hours of dark.

Joseph trusted in the power of that time, and perhaps waited to inquire as to his standing before the Lord specifically trusting that day would produce an answer.(JSH 1: 29) I also believe the balance of light has spiritual meaning.

Days and seasons do not control angelic visitations. They happen without regard to the calendar, but according to the will of God. However our faith matters. If we have great confidence, like Joseph, then marking your submission to heaven and desire to know your standing before the Lord may well be aided by such confidence.

I must confess, although I have had a number of visits, none have been calendar related so far as I can tell. There are many scriptural records of visitations that appear to have nothing to do with the dates on the calendar. They appear to me to be based on circumstances and our needs here, or upon the will of God. Therefore, I do not believe anyone is precluded from a visit at any time of the year.

Having said all that, I do not think the Equinox should go unnoticed. And, Joseph was alone when he was visited.

Edit: A worthy cause

A CPA in our ward has been working with the Kunz family to straighten out the donation account. There was an account that was being used (an already existing account), that has now been closed. There is a new donation account with the last four digits 7987.

We would like to thank all of you for your generosity in donating, or trying to donate.  The Kunz family is deeply appreciative, as are we.

“Keys” as Challenge

What if “keys” are better viewed as a signal, or a sign post along a pathway? Instead of “I hold ‘keys’ and so I hold something of value.”

The better view might be “I have been told one ‘key’ to my calling is to have angels minister to men. Therefore, I know this is a critical matter, or a key to search into.”

What if “holding a key” is better viewed as being given a strong guide or route to take? It points you to something you need to obtain. You have a “key” and now need to discover what it is that must be unlocked.

A “key” is something used to open a lock. It is also something that is “important” or “central in importance.” A “keystone” is the point in an arch that fits in the center, holding the arch together. Upon it all else rests.

If the word is viewed using these meanings, it suggests that holding a “key” implies using it in action. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve use their key positions to manage and maintain the worldwide church organization. If not for that constant oversight, the organization of the church would lapse into disorganization. Their “keys” are indispensable to hold the entire structure together. Without them at the center, like a “keystone,” the “building” would collapse. But the Gospel (and the church) is not a spectator sport. Even if fifteen presiding authorities waste and wear out their lives keeping the church organized, no one will be saved by observing them. It devolves upon us, each one, to obtain the keys of our own salvation by a covenant with God.

Offices belonging to others are their responsibility. For you, there are “keys” which come to us in our own sphere. We are all asked to rise up in testimony and knowledge until, at last, we arrive at “the perfect day” of understanding. (D&C 50: 24.) We are all invited to come to know the Lord, see His face, and know that He is. (D&C 93: 1.)

Can you imagine what a different church it would be if we were all able to say we know for ourselves, nothing doubting, our Lord? Can you imagine how all the problems we now face would evaporate overnight, if our quest was to grow from grace to grace until we too receive of the Father’s fullness? (D&C 93: 20.) Most of what now afflicts us would become trivial, left behind as we grow in light and truth. (D&C 50: 23-25.)

Our temple rites symbolize the trek back to the presence of God. All of us, male and female, receive the same ceremonial blueprint to build upon. Every person within the church should obey and sacrifice (for God and not man), then learn through service, the Gospel of Christ by walking in His footsteps.You agreed to undertake obedience and sacrifice before committing to following His Gospel. This order is critical. Without it, you could err in thinking the Gospel will come to you without sacrifice.

From the Lectures on Faith, Lecture 6:

7. Let us here observe, that a religion [meaning true religion, no matter what another may say or do that tempts you to depart from it] that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power [forget about office or position or authority to conduct a meeting, and realize this is the power to obtain eternal life] sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things [meaning your own reputation, your standing, and any praise you may hope to gain from others– all must be laid upon the altar even if your fellow Latter-day Saint falsely accuses you]: it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God [because God will make that known directly to you and you will know, nothing doubting]. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has, for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice & offering, & that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.

8 It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice [which you learn in the temple rites and which you have covenanted to do], and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.

This outlines the “keys” for your own salvation. Seek for these for they belong to each of us. Do not be jealous of church positions, they do not matter and are not necessary. One thing is necessary; therefore choose the better part. (Luke 10: 39-42.)

Keys of Ministering of Angels

The Aaronic Priesthood has the “keys of the ministering of angels.” (D&C 84: 26.) This raises these questions:
-Do the “keys of ministering of angels” guarantee the holder he will entertain angels?
-Does the ministry of angels depend entirely on possession of these keys?
-Does the appearance of an angel necessarily mean the one to whom the angel appears holds the Aaronic Priesthood? Even in the case of a woman, such as Mary? (Luke 1: 26-27.)
-If the appearance of an angel does not equate with holding of the Aaronic Priesthood, then does it equate with holding the keys of ministering of angels?
-Can the keys of ministering of angels be separated from the Aaronic Priesthood, or are they entirely confined to this priesthood?
-If the keys can be separated from the priesthood, then what is priesthood and what are “keys?”

We tend to gloss over a great deal and have too little curiosity about important questions. In The Second Comforter, I explained part of being “childlike” is to possess relentless curiosity about things you do not understand. We should try to get every answer to every question we can obtain from God. First through the scriptures. Then through prayer and inquiry.

What if “keys to the ministering of angels” are not coequal with the Aaronic Priesthood? Who or under what circumstances could angels minister in the absence of Aaronic Priesthood? Are there “keys” conferred whenever an angel ministers to a person, any person? If an angel appears to a woman in Tibet, does that appearance give her the “keys of ministering of angels” even if she is not Mormon? If so, what is meant by “keys of ministering of angels?”

If an angel has appeared to someone outside the church, and if, because of that, the person does hold some “keys” because of an actual appearance, what of the Mormon priest who has never had an angel appear to him? If he has never had an angelic visitor, does he still hold the “keys of the ministering of angels?”

Do “keys of the ministering of angels” guarantee angels will appear? If not, then what do the “keys” entail? What do they confer? Must an angel minister to the key holder if he demands it? Are angels subject to the keys or not? If not, then how should these “keys” be understood:
-As a right?
-As a privilege?
-As an invitation?
-As a matter to inquire into until you have understanding?