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Home Evening

We have Family Home Evening on Sunday night, because of all the activities our family has. Between softball, soccer, lacrosse, girl scouts, Young Women, school play, and gymnastics we don’t have an available evening other than Sunday. Today the sister Missionaries were visiting, and were included in the lesson and treat. One of the sisters has been out five days. She’s from Hawaii. The other is from Ohio and is the trainer senior companion. Our next door neighbor has a daughter currently serving a mission in Kirtland, Ohio.  She returns home in four days.

We are going to have the returning sister missionary speak to the Priests Quorum next month. The Bishop had to approve it, but he agreed a returning missionary is appropriate to instruct the Priests, even though she is a sister.

I was thinking about my home ward. We have a doctor who has serious physical ailments due to another physician’s malpractice. He is going to undergo experimental surgery at the U of U Medical Center to attempt to undo the serious disability currently afflicting him. (My ward includes so many physicians that as I write this I can’t be sure I’ve counted them all.) We have a member of the Draper Temple Presidency, Inner City Missionaries, English as a Second Language Missionaries, a Federal Judge, several families who have experienced the deaths of children, former Mission Presidents, skeptics, musicians, accountants, the strong and the weak. We have the faithful and the faithless in my ward. We have a family in which the father served a mission in Madagascar, where he met his wife. We have several families from Hong Kong and two from Korea. Our ward is a remarkable mix of ages, backgrounds, personalities and abilities.

I was thinking about how wonderful it is to have this arbitrary ward boundary where we are associated together by geographic division and not by preference for one another. We are expected to serve one another and with one another. Of all the benefits which come from the church, the association as a ward family with different, diverse people you have not sought to find is perhaps one of the greatest. It lets us stretch to serve. In many ways it mirrors our own families, where relationships are given us by God and choices others make in marriages. We do not control the make-up of our extended families, but are expected to love them anyway.

My Kingdom

I was asked an interesting question.  I thought the question and answer might be worth posting.

Question:

  
“In 3 Nephi 28, the 9 disciples are promised that when they die they will go to “my Kingdom” meaning Christ’s.  However, the other 3 who tarry are promised to go to the “Kingdom of my Father.” Are they different? They must be, but how? In what way? Different levels of Exaltation? This same thing is discussed in D&C 7. Peter is promised “My Kingdom” while John is promised the greater blessing. I’m assuming it’s “my Father’s Kingdom” like the 3 Nephite disciples.”
Answer: 
I’ve written about this in Beloved Enos. The offer is extended to all those whose calling and election is confirmed.  The 9 chose to move into the post-mortal inheritance at their death. That is, they would not be required to return here for anything else, but would be judged, crowned and exalted upon death. Because this is a blessing conferred by the Son, it is “His Kingdom” into which they will move. When the work is at last completed and delivered to the Father –at the end of the earth’s temporal existence– it becomes the Father’s at that point. The 3 will be awaiting that moment to receive that inheritance. The 9 will enter into the “Son’s” until then, and will likewise be among those who are received by the Father, in the due order of things. 

[My answer provoked a follow up question:]

  
“But doesn’t Peter, James and John have the earthly role of teaching Adam and Eve (us) further light and knowledge as shown in the temple? Do they send ministering angels or maybe even John since Peter and James don’t come to earth anymore?”
I answered:
Peter, James, and John were added to the endowment by Brigham Young, but weren’t part of what Joseph originally portrayed. They were added to remove required narration. When added, they are a “type,” and not intended to be the personalities or individuals. Much like Elias is a “title” and not a name. Peter, James, and John are in the endowment types, or “titles” – not intended to be the actual persons who were known by those names while in mortality.

The endowment used to include the words, “You should consider yourselves respectively as if Adam and Eve.  …This is simply figurative so far as the man and woman are concerned.” The same could be said about other roles – which all represent truths, but the truths are not tied to personal identities. You are Adam. The endowment is about your life. Those true ministers who are sent are explained in D&C 130: 5, which include those who do (i.e. currently living individuals who have gained a message from the Father and Son to be delivered) or have (i.e., those who have left mortality and are returning as angelic, or resurrected, or translated individuals, who have gained a message from the Father and Son to be delivered) belonged to this earth.

 
 I should add: Without ministering of angels there is no longer any faith, as Moroni explained.  (Moro. 7: 37.) Only a fool would take their own message and portray it as coming from God. As Joseph Smith put it, “only fools trifle with the souls of men.” [I’ve noted, however, an endless abundance of fools here. The Historic Christian religions are filled with them.  …Unfortunately, they’ve crept into the restored faith, as well.] 
 
P.S.  A reminder – I do answer questions from time to time.  However, before you ask me a question, read or review the books I have written (there are 6 of them). Much of what is written in the books following The Second Comforter is written because of the questions I am asked most often. Therefore, I suspect you’ll find things in what I’ve already written which make it unnecessary to ask.

Winning isn’t everything

KSL News did a news piece involving my daughter. Here is a link for anyone interested. 

ksl.com – High 5: Coach teaches team that winning isn’t everything

Beloved

The Lord inquired of John, who is called “Beloved:”
“John, my beloved, what desirest thou? For if you shall ask what you will, it shall be granted unto you.” (D&C 7: 1.)

This is what the Lord offers, at some point, to those who meet with Him as He confirms their exaltation. I’ve explained this in Beloved Enos. It is part of the privilege He extends to those who come to know Him.

 
A person could ask anything of Him. In the case of John, however, the request was completely selfless (one of the reasons he is “Beloved” by Christ). It reflects the same heart as the Lord’s.
 
“And I said unto him, Lord, give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee.”  (D&C 7: 2.)  That is, John desired this not for his own sake, but for the sake of those to whom he could minister.  He wanted to bring souls to Christ.
 
“And the Lord said unto me, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, because thou desirest this thou shalt tarry until I come in my glory, and shalt prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues and people.” (D&C 7: 3.) The ministry of John would continue. There would be “nations” who would receive his prophesy. What do you suppose it means for John to be able to prophesy before “nations?” Do “nations” mean modern states, or do they mean family divisions or subsets, like the ancient tribes of Israel, which were called “nations?” Do the terms “nations, kindreds, tongues and people” have a family meaning? What family? Has the gospel been intended primarily for one family of redeemed souls all along? If so, then, how does one connect to that family? What is John doing?
 
The Lord explained to Peter that, concerning John, “he has undertaken a greater work; therefore I will make him as flaming fire and a ministering angel; he shall minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth.” (D&C 7: 6.)
 
It is an interesting question to ask what John has been doing. What do you suppose it means to be “as flaming fire and a ministering angel?” What jurisdiction does John have if he “shall minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth?” Does this require John to be involved with all who are to become “heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth?” In what way would he be involved?
 
These are interesting things to contemplate. All the more so because these ideas are somewhat at odds with the idea that God has finished His work and given his power to men, as we claim. Nephi disagrees with the idea (2 Ne. 28: 5.), but that hasn’t affected our views much. We’re really quite certain we have everything we need without John.

Ten Parables

My purpose in writing Ten Parables was to take an ancient literary form and use it to illustrate the path back to God. It was intended to replicate the underlying meaning of the temple endowment, but without employing theatrical presentations, signs, tokens or key words. Instead the process is portrayed through parables involving characters in the stories moving from a state of disassociation with God, through understanding His attributes and manner, adopting His virtues and conduct, then back to a reconciliation with Him, at last reaching His presence by satisfying angelic sentinals and obtaining His tutelage. 
 
The book is actually only one story: the process of redemption. It was written to be readable in the same time as it would take to attend a temple endowment session.  However, its meaning can take many days of reflection to fully unlock. It is intended to provoke action or changes within the reader who sees the messages.
 
Some people have seen the value of that little book and, as a consequence, have gained some considerable benefits in their own search into the mysteries of godliness. Others have regarded it as nothing more than a little story book, and I suppose gained varying degrees of entertainment from it.
 
We are all entitled to see as much or as little as we choose to see. That is the beauty of communications that employ symbols. It does not force the listener to understand a thing. It only invites.

Book of Abraham

The last lesson I taught the Priests in my ward I went over the history of the Book of Abraham. There are a host of arguments made against Joseph Smith, his translation and the authenticity of the Book of Abraham which rely upon ignorance to persuade.
 
The Book of Abraham is one of the strongest proofs of Joseph Smith’s credibility as a prophet who restored ancient knowledge and did so using the power of God.  But only if you have read enough to know the lay of the terrain.
 
I brought the following books with me to the class:
Abraham in Egypt (Nibley)
The Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Nibley)
Astronomy, Papyrus and Covenant (Hauglid)
An Approach to the Book of Abraham (Nibley)
One Eternal Round (Nibley)
The Blessings of Abraham (Clark)
Traditions About the Early Life of Abraham (Tvedtnes, Gee)
The Hor Book of Breathings (Rhodes)
A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri (Gee)
Vol. 2 of The History of the Church (Joseph Smith)
 
Critics of Joseph have provoked a tremendous effort to account for the Book of Abraham.  If you are interested in the topic, the results of that effort are worth reading. I find that all topics related to the restoration are interesting to me.
 
I’ve spent a few days with scholars with backgrounds in Egyptology. There is a great deal to learn about the earliest days of Egypt and the Egyptian influence on ancient Israel.  Many of our Psalms are taken directly from Egypt.  Abraham sojourned there, Joseph served there, the twelve tribes resided there, Moses was raised there in the royal courts, Jeremiah fled there, and Christ lived several years there.  Egypt was a repository of arcane knowledge which remains interesting to Latter-day Saints.

Zion is Not Yet

In response to a question I received earlier today about whether Zion presently exists in some form I responded:
 
“Zion has not begun in an organized city-form and could not do so at the moment. Some of what would be required to establish Zion may have been returned, but only in the most incipient form at present, and not such that it can stand on its own. If the hounds of hell have been released to balance things because of Zion’s “appearance” then it is wholly disproportionate at present. The evil is far more numerous, far more widely planted, far stronger, and securely fastened here than the tiniest shoots of a diminutive Zion. Even the idea of starting a small gathering is not possible at present.”
 
It was an interesting enough question I thought the answer worth posting.
 
I’ve been learning more over the last months about many things of interest to me. It is wonderful to have more time to study and meditate. The Gospel as restored through Joseph Smith contains a great deal more than we’ve chosen to respect and explore. This is a mixed blessing, of course. We neglect it at our peril. But we are still in recent enough time to the events that the record is with us. Wars, unrest, upheavals and destructions have not eliminated the libraries of material still available for our study. So, if we are interested, we can learn a great deal in our day.
 
It is foolish to trust your salvation to another. It is more foolish to trust anything to a committee or organization where compromises and agendas conflict with truth almost at every turn. History has no ego, but the purveyors of legacies who hope to mold history to support their agendas are always driven by ambition to trim, add, censor, reinterpret, and contradict. If religion matters, and if Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet, then we ought to try and get as unfiltered an account as possible. Then, with what account you settle as true, you ought then to inquire of the Lord to see if He by revelation has something further to open to your view.
 
I’m amazed at how much the Lord would want us to know, if we only showed interest enough to make an inquiry, with real intent, having faith in Him. 
 
If the mammalian prophet from Puxatony (or Al Gore for that matter) can be trusted, things are going to be warmer soon. I’d like that. Trading light and warmth for dark and cold is an annual pilgrimage nature takes us through to remind us of eternal things.

Restoration and Apostasy

There really is no static position in nature.  The full moon of two nights ago is now replaced by the waning gibbous immediately as the light begins to be lost.  Nor does the half-moon last longer than a single night, followed by the waning crescent. When the moon’s light is altogether stricken, the new moon phase begins with the waxing crescent which is, at first, only a sliver. But it follows nightly through the waxing crescent, to the half moon, to the waxing gibbous, to the full moon.  Always in motion.  Always either growing or receding in light.

So also with the sun.  From solstice to equinox, to solstice to equinox, it grows, then dims.  Never static.  It is impossible to freeze the light.  It will grow or it will fade.

All things in nature testify of the truth.  This includes things in the “heavens” or sky above, as well as things on, in and under the earth. (Moses 6: 63.)

It is not possible for an individual, nor a collection of individuals, to remain static.  They are either involved with restoring truth or in apostasy from it; never merely “preserving” it.  Those who claim to merely preserve the truth given them are concealing the fact of their apostasy.  They are soothing their conscience.  Caretakers simply cannot exist.

All great truths are simple, and they are testified of in nature as well as in scripture.

Restoration and Apostasy

There really is no static position in nature.  The full moon of two nights ago is now replaced by the waning gibbous immediately as the light begins to be lost.  Nor does the half-moon last longer than a single night, followed by the waning crescent. When the moon’s light is altogether stricken, the new moon phase begins with the waxing crescent which is, at first, only a sliver. But it follows nightly through the waxing crescent, to the half moon, to the waxing gibbous, to the full moon.  Always in motion.  Always either growing or receding in light.

So also with the sun.  From solstice to equinox, to solstice to equinox, it grows, then dims.  Never static.  It is impossible to freeze the light.  It will grow or it will fade.

All things in nature testify of the truth.  This includes things in the “heavens” or sky above, as well as things on, in and under the earth. (Moses 6: 63.)

It is not possible for an individual, nor a collection of individuals, to remain static.  They are either involved with restoring truth or in apostasy from it; never merely “preserving” it.  Those who claim to merely preserve the truth given them are concealing the fact of their apostasy.  They are soothing their conscience.  Caretakers simply cannot exist.

All great truths are simple, and they are testified of in nature as well as in scripture.