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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.

 

Dolores Umbridge

In the Harry Potter series, I like how Dolores Umbridge turns questioning her actions into questioning the Ministry of Magic.  And by extension questioning the Minister of Magic.  What a power-hungry wench she was.  She parlayed herself and her every move or decision by extension into the acts of the very pinnacle of their social authority.  It is a sort of pathology you only see in very unhealthy social groups who are ruled by fear and intimidation.  I thought it was brilliant of J.K. Rowling to envision such a character.

Perfect love casts out all fear.  (Moroni 8: 16.)

Peter gave instruction about how the church ought to operate.  It was never through fear or intimidation; but through gentle example: “I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 5: 1-4.)
What a marvel the Gospel of Jesus Christ is in all its details.  When it appears on the earth, it appears in weakness, does not force itself upon the world, and persuades others to the truth.  When it is lost, then religion turns into the means to control and exercise compulsion.  It becomes all that Catholicism was.  Though, in truth, once the Protestant Reformation gathered power it greatly improved Catholicism by reducing its capacity to rule and reign with compulsion and intimidation.  By disposition men tend to abuse power whenever they think they hold it.  (D&C 121: 39-40.)  Just like men, institutions are best when humbled, and worst when they reign with pride and power.
How delightful it is when fiction, like the Potter series, captures a character which puts a timeless conflict into a modern yarn.

Your Life in Context

I’ve been reading modern church history, recently from primary sources including diaries as part of my work on a new book.  I’ve been struck by how difficult it is for people to put their own lives into context as they live them.  The history inside of which they live dominates their thoughts, beliefs, perceptions and interpretations.  It is almost impossible for people to disconnect from their surroundings and view history as they live it.


We rarely have it occur to us that we are part of a current, a flow of people, events and even thought in all the moments of our lives.  But we can act independent of that flow by making a choice.


I am astonished by the arrogance of office, position and wealth.  When any person is put into a position in which their circumstances grant them advantages over their fellow man, it is hard to retain empathy for how well intended but terribly misinformed actions always affect others.  Such things certainly do not make any person a bad man, but always reduces them from what they might have become.

It was essential to Christ’s life that He be born in obscurity, associated with the least of His society, be deprived of wealth and official power.  He could not have accomplished His mission were He in a position to preside.  He needed to be persecuted to fully awaken to the injustices men impose on others.  Even so little a matter as tempting Him by interrogations designed to trip Him up made Him greater than He would have been had people deferred to His standing.  He was challenged, not coddled.  He grew from grace to grace until He was called the Son of God, because of the things which He suffered.


Almost without exception when a soul awakens to the historic context in which they live they immediately find themselves at odds with the surrounding culture.  In this also the Lord was The Great Example.


On Thanksgiving I find myself appreciating our Lord and His difficult life all the more.

Information

The update entry posted yesterday refers to “the talk.” This talk is the same talk referenced here and here. The title of the talk is “The First Three Words of the Endowment.” It is also referred to as the King Follett discussion. They are one in the same. Many readers have already received this talk. 


If you are a new reader or are being introduced to this talk for the first time, and you would like a copy of it, you need to leave your email address in the comment section. I can still get the comments, but I will not put any of them up. Your email will be private. 


There is NO other way to receive a copy of this.  If you would like it leave a comment on the blog.

Thanks — CM

Update

Here are a couple of updates:

First, I still receive requests for copies of the talk.  I get those and will respond.  We (Steph and I) like to wait till there’s five or more and respond to them as a group.  But we do respond and you will get copies of the talk. 

Second, I just finished speaking with the publisher and printer and we have set in motion getting all of the books available on Kindle.  That process takes a few weeks before it is actually available.  However, it has been set in motion and all the titles will be available on Kindle as soon as the process is completed.

The blog will become available as a book soon, as well.  At present the footnoting of scripture references is occupying the effort.  Once that is completed we will submit it for printing, as well and it will become available on Amazon.com thereafter.

I have finished what I needed to cover

I have finished what I needed to cover.
 
This blog will become a book. As it gets into final form I may add a few things from 3rd Nephi that haven’t been covered here. When it’s out, I’ll let you know.
There is another book completely unrelated to this blog I need to begin to work on. I need the time I have spent on this to turn to that instead.

When I’ve finished the next book I’ll make it a point to include news of that here. I’m going to leave this up, and will add to it from time to time. In the event I have something to say, I will post here. Check back occasionally.


Here’s an important closing thought – its seems Youkilis, Pedroia and Ellsbury are all recovering nicely. The Red Sox have resigned Ortiz, and will be a force to reckon with again next year (barring injuries). I have to say, however, that the AL East was altogether a playoff disappointment. I get why the BoSox were out of it, but the Rays and Yankees were a complete disappointment. I was hoping the Rangers would win, but I’m good with SF Giants.

3 Nephi 18: 31-32

3 Nephi 18: 31-32:

“Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood. But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered. Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.”
 
Even if you know someone has violated the commandment, has partaken unworthily after you have forbidden them to do so, even then you are “not to cast him out from among you.” Instead the Lord puts on His disciples the burden of making intercession for him, praying “unto the Father, in [Christ’s] name” for such a man. For the Lord reminds us that, “if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in [His] name” then the man’s repentance will take care of his failure.
 
Notice the burden on His disciples. What does it mean to “minister unto him” who has transgressed? What does it mean to “pray for him unto the Father” when you know he has eaten and drank “damnation unto his soul?” Why would the Lord have His followers first forbid, then, when the forbidding fails, to follow it up with patience and prayer for the offender? Is this another extension of the teachings the Lord gave in the sermon previously? Does this again testify to you of how serious the Lord is about how kind and patient we are with others?
 
How long are you to bear with the offender, hoping for his repentance? When do you decide that he is determined to “repent not?” What does it mean, after you have determined the man will not repent that “he shall not be numbered among my people?” What does that suggest about further fellowship with that man? Why would that be coupled with “that he may not destroy my people?”  What would such an unrepentant man need to do before you could decide he was attempting to “destroy my people?” How would you decide that?
 
Now, even if you think you have a basis for deciding all this against the man, “nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship.” Did you see that? We are not to forbid even the man who is intent upon destroying the Lord’s people from our places of worship. What selfless behavior is this? Enduring persecution! It is as if the Lord expects His followers to bless those who curse them, to do good to them who despitefully use them.
 
Why such patience? Because “ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.” If there is a chance for repentance, the Lord wants us to bear with, succor and uplift the non-repentant soul who drinks damnation. How often we would do otherwise. Christ instructs us to be more like Him in all we do. It is only by this patience, kindness, gentleness and meekness that He has been able to save my soul. Can a grateful person do anything less for another? Can we expect to forebear any less with the unrepentant than the Lord has with us?
 
How godlike the Master is in all His teachings. How much higher are His ways than are ours.
 
The Lord affirms that He knows His sheep. Not only knows them, but “they are numbered” to Him. He cares for each of them.
 
If we can add another to His fold by our own patient ministrations, then we ought to readily do so. If we do, then He will give us the credit for what we have done: “ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.” Did you catch that? He gives us the credit for the success! We merely follow what He instructs us to do, and if there is any benefit realized He gives us the credit for doing so. Our Savior is more than a good example. He is perfect in all His doings. It is little wonder that in the end every knee will bow before Him. Gratitude will bring some to their knees. Shame will bring the rest. No one will expect to stand or sit in His presence. For in Him we find a soul of such greatness that kneeling alone can give vent to the feelings He inspires.

Nephi 18: 28-29

“And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it;  For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.”

This commandment about partaking of the bread and wine is the one He needed them to understand. They should take precautions to prevent those who they know to be unworthy from partaking. The reason is merciful. When they partake of His flesh and blood unworthily, they establish a testimony before the Father of their unworthiness.

Remember the bread and wine become a testimony to the Father. (See 3 Nephi 18: 10.) The observance comes to the attention of the Father. It is a witness before Him. Therefore, when the flesh and blood are taken by those who are unworthy, the witness which comes to the Father is of their unworthiness. The Father cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. (D&C 1: 31.)  When a person comes before the Father in a witness of their unworthiness, such a person “eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul.” This person has asked the Father to take notice of their unworthiness.

It is the responsibility of those who minister these things to “forbid him” in such circumstances. They are their brother’s keeper. Though it may be difficult for the person to be warned, it is merciful to do so. The sacrament is to be offered to the worthy, never offered to the unworthy. The worthy should “forbid” the unworthy from taking.

This is not an unkind teaching. It is not exclusionary or discriminatory. It is based on the doctrine Christ teaches, and the import of the act which witnesses to the Father. That witness occurs whenever the sacrament is properly administered, with appropriate power to bless, in a setting the Lord has authorized, by those who have repented and are properly baptized. Among such people the bread and wine should be given only to those who are worthy.

Now, the responsibility is on the ones administering the bread and wine. But the duty only extends to those who are “knowingly… unworthy.” That is, the ones who administer are not obligated to police others. They are not required to interview and determine worthiness. They are only to take note of such things as come to their attention and require the conclusion that the recipient is “unworthy.” Obvious misdeeds are important, private matters and individual failings are not consequential to the ones administering the rite.

“Therefore, if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink [Christ’s] flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.” But only if you “know” such is the case. Then, you should “forbid” him from doing so.  Not by force, but by refusing to minister the sacrament to him. This becomes impractical, however, when it is a tray passed down a row of people, who cannot be forbidden to partake. In that kind of ceremony, the individual cannot be forbidden except through general teaching and warning. Then the individual is free to choose for themselves whether to heed the caution or to ignore it. The question remains, however, if that relieves the persons ministering the sacrament from their obligation to “forbid him” if he is known to be unworthy.

These are interesting points. All the more so because the Lord has taken the time to teach us these principles. And for Him to teach them, and provide them to us as part of restoring the Gospel to our day, I presume that informs us these points are to be followed.

Whether we choose to follow His teachings or not becomes, for most of us, a matter of convention and acceptance of popular behavior. If these teachings are found in the Book of Mormon, but not observed by us in how we proceed each Sabbath, then we tend to feel comfortable that what we do is right and the text has been corrected by modern practice. It is an interesting conclusion to draw. One which, upon careful examination, does not always leave us with the same feeling of comfort.

Well, the Lord had this to say about us in 1832: “your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—” (D&C 84: 54-57). 

I am glad others are responsible for enacting the Church Handbook of Instructions, and not me. I was glad to attend the leadership meeting and be again informed about this newly revised handbook for use today. It was just a few short years ago President Hinckley’s administration reduced it by a third. Now it has been further reduced by 12%. That is, in my view, a very healthy trend. If this keeps up we may eventually wind up with nothing but the scriptures to guide us.

3 Nephi 18: 26-27

“And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words, he turned his eyes again upon the Disciples whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Behold verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you another commandment, and then I must go unto my Father that I may fulfil other commandments which he hath given me.”

Christ first introduced Himself by reference to the Father in 3 Nephi 11:11. He reiterates the connection between Him and the Father again in this scripture. He does not only testify of the Father. He makes it clear that everything done is by the will or command of the Father.

 
If Christ is the example in all things (and He is). Then in this He serves once again to clarify things for us.
 
Christ did not come to do His own will, but submitted to the will of the Father. Just like Christ submitted to the will of the Father, we too are invited to submit to the example and teachings of Christ. We ought to put away our own agendas. We ought to give credit to Him. We follow Him, we trust Him, we seek His will.
 
This is not just a passing point. It is the central point. Studying to know, and then working to do the will of Christ is our responsibility.
As Christ served the Father, we are to serve Him.
 
Christ becomes our Father when we are born again. He is the one who liberates us from sin, and will liberate us from death. Our resurrected bodies come to us as a gift from Him. Therefore, He is literally the Father of our bodies, because they return to us as a gift from Him.
 
As Christ has set an example in following the Father, He has thereby become our Father. We follow Him if we are hoping to go where He is.
 
Notice also the Lord has “other commandments” which He knows He is obligated to fulfill. The Lord has a continuing ministry under the direction of the Father. His ministry is not confined to the appearances we have in current scripture, but comprehends visits to those who have faith in Him throughout the world. He continues that ministry today, as promised in John 14: 18.
 
Part of the “commandments which [the Father] hath given” to Christ include the ministry to save, redeem and teach those who abide the conditions to be taught. Today as in times past.

3 Nephi 18: 24-25

 
“Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.  And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world; and whosoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation.”
 
Here is another clarification for the earlier sermon. When admonished to “let your light so shine before this people that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (3 Nephi 12: 16) what the Lord meant is that it is He who should be held up. He alone. Not you, or your good intentions, your conspicuous acts or philanthropy. Not you at all. Him.
 
The obligation to hold up a light is circumscribed by His direction that He “is the light which ye shall hold up.” Nothing and no one else. He is the lifeline. Therefore, when you offer, preach, teach, exhort and expound, He must be at the center of this prophesying, or you are engaging in priestcraft. (2 Nephi 26: 29.)
 
The Lord has “prayed unto the Father” in their presence. Therefore, His example points to how prayer is to occur, and to whom it is addressed. They “all have witnessed” this, and know for themselves how it is to be done.

He has not told any of those who were present to go away. He has brought the same message to all. He gives them His example of liberality: “Ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me.” No one is refused. All are welcomed. Whether those in the multitude thought someone was unworthy, or whether there were some with conflicts, it did not matter. All were invited.  None were refused. They are all “commanded that they should come unto Him.”
 
What is the reason we are commanded to come to Him? It is so “ye might feel and see.” So that you might know Him. So that you can also be a witness of His physical evidence of suffering, crucifixion and death. The wounds He bears could not be received without death. His body testifies that He died. His body also testifies of His resurrection. Despite the wounds which memorialize His suffering and death, He lives! He stands before you in life! He has risen!
 
As you testify of Him, you must invite others to likewise come “that they might feel and see” Him. This is how witnesses of Him are commanded to “do unto the world.” This is their ministry, their burden, their witness, and their command from Him. When they fail to testify, teach and proclaim, they “break this commandment and suffer themselves to be led into temptation.” This is why the Lord required at my hands the book The Second Comforter. That is how He directs all those who are “commanded to come unto Him, that they might feel and see.” It will not be in vague innuendo or veiled language. It may not be in a published book, and may well be in private. But they will all be required to invite others to likewise “come unto Him” that everyone “might feel and see” our Risen Lord.
 
He is accessible. He invites. More than that, He commands. All are commanded and “none of you should go away.” We think it a great thing when someone testifies of Him. Yet He wants all to “come” so that everyone “might feel and see” Him.
 
If we have the same Gospel, we have the same commandments.

The Book of Mormon is, as I have testified in everything I have written, not merely a book of scripture. It is the preeminent volume of scripture for our day.  All other volumes of scripture are not just inferior to it, but vastly so. It is the covenant we are condemned for neglecting. It is the reason I have found Him. For above all else, I have used the Book of Mormon to direct my thoughts, actions, teachings and understanding. Here in these verses we see again – He is inviting us, using the text of the Book of Mormon to find Him, individually, for ourselves.

 
This Book is the restoration of the Gospel. Unfortunately, most people have missed that. Nevertheless, it is true.