Thursday, September 21, 2017

Goodly Parents

Something to consider when reading 1 Nephi1:1;

"Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days."

Ben Spackman (a PhD student at Claremont, studying history of religion and science, with a focus on issues of fundamentalism, literalism, creationism, and evolution), provides the following interpretation:

"This is a long-standing argument among a few bloggers, including me. In the first few verses, Nephi explains that, because his parents were “goodly,” he was taught not just to read (very unusual in the ancient world) but to write (even more unusual), and moreover, to write in two scripts or languages (depending on how we understand the “Egypt” reference). That degree of learning is much more dependent upon Lehi’s financial status than his goodness. Context thus favors the interpretation of “well-off.” The (weaker, in my view) counter-argument comes from dictionaries, which don’t list something like “well-off” as a meaning, so it would be fairly idiomatic usage there in 1Ne 1:1.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

You are Probably a Mormon Fundamentalist

Have you ever said something like, "I believe all the words of the Prophet." Or, "No matter what the Prophet says, I will do it or I will believe it." Or have you dismissed uncomfortable ideas, unfamiliar concepts from good scholar ship and defaulted to a comment similar to, "the Prophet is silent on this therefore I don't need to know." Or even made a general statement of, "always side with the Prophet in intellectual and spiritual matters." 

If you have you are most-likely a Mormon Fundamentalist. Interestingly, by making comments or believing this way you are in fact NOT believing the words of the Prophet. Elder Harold B. Lee in quoting Brigham Young said the following;
“I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are being led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give their leaders if they know for themselves by the revelations of Jesus Christ that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know by the whisperings of the Spirit of God to themselves whether their leaders are walking in the way the Lord dictates or not." 
To me, there is a tremendous truth. It is not alone sufficient for us as Latter-day Saints to follow our leaders and to accept their counsel, but we have the greater obligation to gain for ourselves the unshakable testimony of [1] the divine appointment of these men and [2] the witness that what they have told us is the will of our Heavenly Father.
Documents: Curriculum: “Blind Obedience H B Lee OH” Brigham Young: Blind Obedience Is Not What the Prophets Want, Quoted by Elder Harold B. Lee of the Quorum of the Twelve in Teachings of the Living Prophets, p. 47; Conference Report, Oct. 1950, pp. 129-130.
It is not the first time I've seen it happen, in fact I've seen it too many times. Men and Women of profound faith attacked, condemned, judged and called to repentance for solid scholarship, research sincere questions. Although I don't consider myself a scholar, I have also been on the receiving end of those who've been rebuked, for doctrinal exploration. But have also seen repeatably, brilliant individuals who are established scholars, whom the apostles refer to on their specialties, those who actually write the manuals. Called and condemned by Mormon fundamentalists. (Take for example Daniel A. Petersen, who was rebuked for not following the manual, of which he was the author/contributor.) Because the scholars perspectives don't fit within their narrow fundamentalist views. They feel they have to proclaim the Prophetic view, as appose to faithfully seeking out truth. 

What prompted this post was this exact exchange with one such scholar on Facebook: 
Today's encounter with unthinking LDS (non-polygamous) fundamentalism, directed at me.
"Wow. I cannot believe they are letting you teach the youth. Brother ---, all I can say to you is I wish you well. I will believe the words that come out of the prophet's mouth. I am one who would wear purple socks every Thursday if that is what he says to do. You can cite non-LDS sources. I'll stick to the church approved. My salvation isn't worth dabbling in the philosophies of men. Have a great life."
FWIW, I wasn't citing non-LDS sources or doing any of these other things, but this kind of worldview is very fragile and easily threatened. 
In his insightful, faith saving/strengthening book "Shaken Faith Syndrome" Michael Ash addresses this ridged perspective of fundamentalism; 
"Having interacted--for over two decades--with people whose testimonies have been weakened or destroyed by something they have "discovered" about the Church, I have generally found that those who are prone to fundamentalist ideology about certain facets of the gospel or early LDS historical events, are more likely to apostatize when they encounter challenging issues.  
I use the term 'fundamentalist' in a way that may differ from other usages of the term. In LDS circles, for instance, the term 'fundamentalist' commonly denotes those who still practice polygamy. This is not how the term is used in this book. 
Among many Christians, the term generally refers to conservative evangelicals who actively affirm what they see as fundamental Christian beliefs such as an inerrant Bible, which is literally interpreted and historically accurate despite any conflicting claims from science and modern scholarship. By association, the term 'fundamentalist' is also used to describe all those (of various religious beliefs) who take a very ridged, dogmatic, uncompromising, and unchanging approach to their ideologies (or belief systems). This definition more accurately depicts the way the term is used..." pg. 5
As Elder Hugh B. Brown put it in his book, An Abundant Life said the follow;
“I admire men and women who have developed the questing spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas as stepping stones to progress. We should of course respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent – if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression… This free exchange of ideas is not to be deplored as long as men and women remain humble and teachable. Neither fear of consequence or any kind of coercion should ever be used to secure uniformity of thought in the church. People should express their problems and opinions and be unafraid to think without fear of ill consequences. We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it.” 
"With respect to people feeling that whatever the brethren say is gospel, this tends to undermine the proposition of freedom of speech and thought. As members of the church we are bound to sustain and support the brethren in the positions they occupy so long as their conduct entitles them to that. But we also have only to defend those doctrines of the church contained in the four standard works—the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Anything beyond that by anyone is his or her own opinion and not scripture. Although there are certain statements that whatever the brethren say becomes the word of God, this is a dangerous practice to apply to all leaders and all cases. The only way I know of by which the teachings of any person or group may become binding upon the church is if the teachings have been reviewed by all the brethren, submitted to the highest councils of the church, and then approved by the whole body of the church.  
I do not doubt that the brethren have often spoken under inspiration and given new emphasis—perhaps even a new explanation or interpretation—of church doctrine, but that does not become binding upon the church unless and until it is submitted to the scrutiny of the rest of the brethren and later to the vote of the people." 
"And while all members should respect, support, and heed the teachings of the authorities of the church, no one should accept a statement and base his or her testimony upon it, no matter who makes it, until he or she has, under mature examination, found it to be true and worthwhile; then one's logical deductions may be confirmed by the spirit of revelation to his or her spirit, because real conversion must come from within." A Final Testimony by Hugh B. Brown
Furthermore Michael Ash points out the logical fallacy in clinging to Prophets words.
"...And why should we follow their counsel if they might be wrong?
The truth is that we already pick and choose when we follow the words of the prophets. We also pick and choose the counsel we follow from the scriptures, our boss, the law, health professionals, our parents, spouses, etc. Since we are not perfect and not robots, it always comes down to personal choice..." pg. 33
We are commanded to seek further truth, to study from all good books to even question concepts, traditions and doctrines. It is the very purpose of our agency, it is what builds our faith and testimony. Not questioning/exploring is a lack of faith.

One scholar, Ben Spackman, has posted these insightful words to his social media:
Eugene England, quoting B.H. Roberts-
"I believe 'Mormonism' affords opportunity . . . for thoughtful disciples who will not be content with merely repeating some of its truths, but will develop its truths; and enlarge it by that development.... The disciples of "Mormonism," growing discontented with the necessarily primitive methods which have hitherto prevailed in sustaining the doctrine, will yet take profounder and broader views of the great doctrines committed to the Church; and, departing from mere repetition, will cast them in new formulas; cooperating in the works of the Spirit, until they help to give to the truths received a more forceful expression, and carry it beyond the earlier and cruder stages of its development.” 
England comments.
"President Roberts, of course, is not suggesting that the intellectual's task is to create new doctrine, but rather to take revealed doctrine and give it new formulations that will relate to the changing world we live in, that will enable us, for instance, to more effectively criticize our flawed social, political, artistic and intellectual environment by using the great germ-truths of the gospel."
Dialogue 9:4 (Winter 1974), 47
I encourage you to seek out truth from all sources. To engage in meaningful dialog. To apply faith in your curiosity, verses running to "safety" under a Prophetic blanket. We need more Saints who are well informed and can, as it says in Peter, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:faith." 1 Peter 3:15 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Subdivisions in the Celestial Kingdom

Image: The Necessity for Receiving the  Priesthood Ordinances of Salvation Bruce Satterfield  Department of Religious Education,  Brigham Young Universtiy - Idaho

The traditional view of the Celestial Kingdom divided into three subdivision and its respective requirements D&C 131:1-4, specifically the interpretation of “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest…”. Appears to be problematic.

What we have here is something call “doctrines in transition”, I’ll explain in a moment.

But first let’s review two absolutes we do know; the Atonement and Agency. These two concepts are eternal and have been promised for our salvation. You can NOT have one without the other. A good test of pure doctrine is to ask yourself if this "doctrine" contradicts the doctrine of Atonement and Agency. The traditional reading of D&C 131, would suggest the only way for one to obtain the celestial kingdom, would be dependent on the choice of a future spouse. This seems contradicts the Plan of Salvation and its fundamental Law of Agency.

Additionally, this traditional idea seems promotes a type of gospel perfectionism that makes even the most faithful members and believers in Christ, wonder if they have "done enough." The Atonement is infinite in its power and God has made it possible for us all to return in the FULLNESS of his Glory, if YOU accept Him. Not if your spouse (or lack of one), chooses otherwise.

It’s important to understand that Agency, must remain to correctly understand this scripture. As such the traditional interpretation of this passage being the Celestial Kingdom is divided into three sub-degrees of glory seems and its requirement of eternal marriage, making your salvation dependent on anothers covenant keeping, seems to negate agency.

Although it is possible for the celestial glory to be divided into MANY different “kingdoms” or levels, “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2 However, what this means exactly, its never made clear. But in the context of D&C 131:1-4 it has transition over the years and morphed into concepts never taught by Joseph Smith. The fact that JS didn’t teach it, doesn’t mean modern day revelation can’t clarify the teaching. But there has never been further “revelation” on the topic, only “logical” conclusion, which is based off of a potentially faulty understanding of the passage. Lets look at the first verse a little differently;

“In the celestial glory…” To correctly understand we first need to understand a common fallacy which is “presentism”, presentism is the act of applying current understanding and word meanings to historic events. In other words, words don’t have the same meaning throughout history. It’s a logical fallacy to read this scripture, specifically “celestial glory” with its NOW concrete definition, as though JS also had that same definition. Not the case. “Celestial glory” was an expression of what we now refer to as the universe or all the space above. Also, if he was referring to the specific kingdom JS would have used the same language as he did in every other mentioning of it, “celestial kingdom”, not “celestial glory”.

“there are three heavens or degrees;” With the understanding of word usage and presentism, we can now clearly see JS usage of “three heavens or degrees”. Let me write the scripture in modern day language. “In the celestial glory (the plan of salvation, this universal creation) there are three heavens or degrees (God created three degrees of heaven/glory);” Furthermore, if there were “subdivision” and it was important enough to not only mention it. But as you’ll see in the next part. JS says there is a strict condition to obtain the “highest” degree with in the celestial kingdom. It would be logical to believe he would have clarified, or at the very LEAST alluded to this concept in D&C 76 or any of his other sermons. But it’s not mentioned anywhere.

What I believe confuses the topic and potentially perpetuated and continue to solidify this mistaken idea is what the scripture says next;

“And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.”

One can still conclude with the understanding of presentism/word usage interpret this second verses correctly. But this concept of “marriage” is added! Then further reinforced with, “if he does not, he cannot obtain it.” We learn in 76 and other teachings that baptism (acceptance of Christ) is required for Celestial Glory. But this “additional” requirement seems to make it sound like there are further levels that we have to qualify within the CK. This is problematic because it places your eternal salvation on the righteousness of your spouse. That is if you ever marry in the first place.

This would suggest, for example, if never get married would never reach the highest glory within the CK. Or any other righteous, covenant keeping individual.  This concept seems to negate our personal agency, no matter how righteous we are. In another example, If you were married in the temple to your spouse for 40 (or any length of time) years, all the while covenants are kept, then your spouse leaves the church. You are no longer qualified for eternal glory in the highest CK?

Sure we can qualify this condition by supposing, “God will make it right it the eternities and bless the spouseless with an eternal companion.” Is it possible? Of course, God is God. But nowhere is that reveled and is complete speculation, to fill the gap of our understanding.

Two things about this 2&3 verse need to be understood. First, “meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage” was NEVER in the revelation. The words in the brackets were added by and from William Claytons journal, where were only one notation, of his thoughts on the revelation. Not JS actual words. These words represent comments on the priesthood from Joseph to Benjamin F. Johnson and his wife on 16 May 1843 at the home of William G. Perkins in Ramus, Illinois, as recorded by William Clayton in his journal, which is the source for them.  This material was first published in the Deseret News on 24 September 1856, and was included in the 1876 edition of the D&C (which is when the bracketed editorial insertion was also made).

The second thing is that “order of the priesthood” does not mean specifically “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage”. Additionally, it is doctrinally redundant and possibly confusing to refer to marriage as the “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage”. Because marriage is only one of the things within the new and everlasting covenant. Marriage is NOT the entirety of the new and everlasting covenant. I’ve included quotes below that support this idea.

Is it still possible that there are multiple levels or glories. Sure, its possible. But this is not evidence of that doctrine or teaching. As a result of the traditional teaching, this concept of “Doctrines in Transition” has occur. More correctly, doctrines morphing into speculation. I’ve included quotes below that show how leaders of the church have “supposed” that if there are three degrees in the CK, then its logical to conclude there are three in each kingdom… Do you see how this is perpetual and speculative?

What is the New and Everlasting Covenant?
President Joseph Fielding Smith defines the new and everlasting covenant in these words:

What is the new and everlasting covenant? I regret to say that there are some members of the Church who are misled and misinformed in regard to what the new and everlasting covenant really is. The new and everlasting covenant is the sum total of all gospel covenants and obligations, and I want to prove it. In the 66th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 2, I read:

"Verily I say unto you, blessed are you for receiving mine everlasting covenant, even the fulness of my gospel, sent forth unto the children of men, that they might have life and be made partakers of the glories which are to be revealed in the last days, as it was written by the prophets and apostles in days of old."
More definitely stated is the definition of the new and everlasting covenant given to us in section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Now I am going to say before I read this that marriage is not the new and everlasting covenant. If there are any here that have that idea I want to say that right to them. Baptism is not the new and everlasting covenant. In section 22 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord says that baptism is "a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning." Marriage in the temple of the Lord for time and for eternity is "a" new and everlasting covenant. (Doctrine of Salvation, 1:156.)

As to why it is called a new covenant, President Smith wrote:

Each ordinance and requirement given to man for the purpose of bringing to pass his salvation and exaltation is a covenant. Baptism for the remission of sins is a covenant. When this ordinance was revealed in this dispensation, the Lord called it "a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning."
This covenant was given in the beginning and was lost to men through apostasy, therefore, when it was revealed again, it became to man a new covenant, although it was from the beginning, and it is everlasting since its effects upon the individual endure forever. Then again, whenever there is need for repentance, baptism is the method, or law, given of the Lord by which the remission of sins shall come, and so this law is everlasting. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:152.)

This covenant includes all ordinances of the gospel--the highest of which are performed in the temple. To quote President Smith again:

Now there is a clear-cut definition of the new and everlasting covenant. It is everything--the fulness of the gospel. So marriage properly performed, baptism, ordination to the priesthood, everything else--every contract, every obligation, every performance that pertains to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise according to his law here given, is part of the new and everlasting covenant. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:158)

Three degrees in each kingdom???

Here are a couple of quotes that indicate that this would seem to be the case:

Elder James E. Talmage

“The three kingdoms of widely differing glories are organized on an orderly plan of gradation. We have seen that the telestial kingdom comprises several subdivisions; this also is the case, we are told, with the celestial; (D&C 131:1, 2 Cor 12:1-4) and, by analogy, we conclude that a similar condition prevails in the terrestrial. Thus the innumerable degrees of merit amongst mankind are provided for in an infinity of graded glories. The celestial kingdom is supremely honored by the personal ministrations of the Father and the Son. The terrestrial kingdom will be administered through the higher, without a fulness of glory. The telestial is governed through the ministrations of the terrestrial, by “angels who are appointed to minister for them.” (D&C 76:86-88) 1

Bruce R. McConkie 1915-1985

Glory of the stars: Telestial glory found only in the telestial kingdom. “In the infinite mercy of a beneficent Father it [telestial kingdom] surpasses all mortal understanding, and yet it is in no way comparable to the glory of the terrestrial and celestial worlds. Telestial glory is typified by the stars of the firmament, and ‘as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world’ (D. & C. 76:81-112; 1 Cor. 15:41), meaning that all who inherit the telestial kingdom will not receive the same glory.” 2

Rewards granted individuals in eternity will vary between and within kingdoms. Only those who are sealed in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and who thereafter keep the terms and conditions of that covenant will attain the highest of three heavens within the celestial kingdom. (D. & C. 131:1-4.) Inhabitants of the telestial kingdom will differ in glory among themselves “as one star differs from another star in glory.” (D. & C. 76:98; 1 Cor. 15:41.) Similar variations will exist among inheritors of the terrestrial kingdom. (D. & C. 76:71-79.) 3

John A. Widstoe 1872-1952

These gradations in salvation may be innumerable, since all members of the human family are different. The many gradations are however reduced to three classes: (1) the celestial, the highest, as of the sun in glory; (2) the terrestrial, the next, as of the moon; (3) the telestial, the lowest, as of the stars. 4

Elder James E. Talmage

The three kingdoms of widely differing glories are severally organized on a plan of gradation. The Telestial kingdom comprises subdivisions; this also is the case, we are told, with the Celestial; and, by analogy, we conclude that a similar condition prevails in the Terrestrial. Thus the innumerable degrees of merit amongst mankind are provided for in an infinity of graded glories. The Celestial kingdom is supremely honored by the personal ministrations of the Father and the Son. The Terrestrial kingdom will be administered through the higher, without a fulness of glory. The Telestial is governed through the ministrations of the Terrestrial, by “angels who are appointed to minister for them.” 5


James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1968], 83. In the 4th printing of this book (the 1962 printing) this quote is found on page 99.
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., p. 778.
Mormon Doctrine, p. 420.
John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p.199.
James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 409.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation

Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation


Published by
DESERET BOOK COMPANY 1937 Copyright 1937
Printed in the United States of America


Life-long observer, defender and expounder of the WORD OF WISDOM

Whose vigor of body and mind at four score and one years is evidence of the benefits derived from compliance with this divinely given code of health This book is affectionately dedicated.


The Word of Wisdom, a code of health dealing primarily with human nutrition, was promulgated as a divine revelation in 1833 by Joseph Smith, the "Mormon" Prophet. It is a part of the religious system of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which declares that the care of the body is a sacred duty; and it has been practiced measurably by members of the Church with very favorable results.

Three objectives have been kept in mind in the preparation of this book. First, to make clear the meaning of the Word of Wisdom in terms of modern knowledge. Second, to show that the learning of the last century confirms the teachings of the Word of Wisdom. Third, to furnish some information for the guidance, through proper nutrition, of those who seek to retain, improve or recover their health.

The Word of Wisdom is not another food fad, of which there have been thousands in the world's history. It is a simple, rational dietary system conforming to general human experience and to accurate scientific knowledge; and is an important guide to physical welfare. Those who are well should practice the Word of Wisdom as a prevention of disease. Those who are ill should not only practice the Word of Wisdom, but should also seek professional help from the well-trained and reliable physicians of this day. The recent advances in the science of human nutrition are gradually being included in the curricula of medical schools; and the medical profession is aware as never before of the importance of proper nutrition in the maintenance of health and the curing of disease.

More than a generation ago the authors of this book sought out and studied with the world's leaders in the sciences underlying nutrition, and have been connected at various times since then with the scientific and practical aspects of the subject. Out of this life-long, intimate association with the Word of Wisdom and the sciences back of it have come two main convictions: that this health code promotes human welfare; and that the full accord of the Word of Wisdom with advancing science is a convincing evidence of the divine inspiration of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

The books listed at the end of each chapter offer opportunities for more detailed study of the subjects herein discussed as parts of the Word of Wisdom.

Latter-day Saints and all others would do well to acquaint themselves with the truths, positive and negative, taught and implied in the Word of Wisdom, and to practice its precepts so that disease may be prevented. Thereby they would win the fundamentals of life's happiness.

Grateful acknowledgment is made of the assistance rendered by many friends in the preparation of this book. Elders Joseph Fielding Smith, Joseph F. Merrill, Charles A. Callis and Albert E. Bowen of the Council of Twelve, and Prof. N. I. Butt and Dr. Vasco M. Tanner of the Brigham Young University, and Richard L. Evans, of the Improvement Era, have read the manuscript and given valuable suggestions. James H. Wallis, Glyn Bennion and Hugo D. E. Peterson have given much assistance in the proof-reading of the book.


A revelation given through Joseph Smith, the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, February 27, 1833 1 (see chapter 3).

I. Introduction 2 (see chapters 2 to 4)

1. A Word of Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion—

2. To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—

3. Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.

4. Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—

II. Negative Health Factors (see chapters 5 to 7)

5. That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.

6. And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.

7. And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.

8. And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.

9. And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

III. Positive Health Factors (see chapters 9 to 16)

10. And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—

11. Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

12. Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

13. And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

14. All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;

15. And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.

16. All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—

17. Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

IV. Rewards (see chapters 2 and 18)

18. And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

19. And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

20. And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

21. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

1. Doctrine and Covenants Section 89.

2. Division headings I, II, III, IV, ours.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Learn to be the Best You

Tiffany Tong Photography
Before the age of 21, steady dating should be avoided. It is during these adolescent years that you learn to emotionally detach from your parents. Those who become serious in relationships during this time transfer their attachment needs from their parent/family system to their partner. This is a breeding ground for unhealthy, codependent relationships.

Even if you feel you have a great friendship with your partner, your relationship will prevent the emotional growth necessary for your development as an adult. It's not just the seriousness of the relationship that's the concern, but the inability to learn how to be emotionally independent. This is an important milestone that needs to happen at this stage of your life.

In a recent area fireside for youth held in Fremont California December 10, 2016. Elder David A. Bednar said, "You have to learn how to be alone."

If you don't learn this profound lesson while in your youth, your identity will always be associated with another person. It will become increasingly more difficult to recognize and experience true love. The "love" you experience now is attachment love — an insecure, immature love that leaves you emotionally dependent on your partner.

"The problem is, a lot of teenagers jump the gun. They think these friendship-type relationships are only for younger kids, and they plunge into romantic relationships more appropriate for young adults (people in their 20s), who are in a position to think about marriage." Unsteady Dating

Couples who have been married for decades, who have never experienced authentic love, often have no idea what it is and confuse it with the codependent love they have only known since they were teenagers. While working with them, I have helped guide them as they untangle their identities and rediscover themselves. This can be a painful, scary, and very difficult process. However, it isn't until this is accomplished that they can experience the rich, eternal love which they have always craved.

All youth should avoid serious dating. I realize this may sound like a dad thing to say, and I'll admit I didn't understand it when I was your age. But avoid, avoid, avoid. If you are younger than 21 and in a serious relationship right now, I would seriously plead with you to separate from your partner and discover other friendships. But most importantly, discover yourself and learn to be good at being alone. This is the biggest key to future marital success, and the one that no one ever talks about.

Additional Resources:
Unsteady Dating
LDS Youth Dating Guidelines
Romance and Mission Prep - By Middle-aged Mormon Man (MMM)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Sabbath

Over the years I have been blessed to work in careers that provided me with a significant amount of time off during Christmas. This time of is a type of Sabbath to me. To reflect on the tender mercies Christs life has brought me in my life. His marvelous redemptive power and the gratitude I have for His Birth and life and restoring His Church in these latter days.

 "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Acts 3:21

He is all powerful God who keeps his promises and has provided us a sure way in this time of confusion by establishing his church as he said he would:

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:" Ephesians 4:11-15

In these latter days He has restored his Church through Joseph Smith. That same organization that he established in Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. Recently, I have made again, a study of Joseph's life and the miracles associated the establishing of Christ church. The hand of God was in Josephs life, in the establishing of His church. The faith of Joseph in Christ is profound and only comparable with who have shared that holy calling as prophet. It is a great mercy of which I am thankful for, that Christ continues to reveal and guide us through his words and a living prophet to day.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Organization and Culture of the Gospel

And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. -- Luke 12: 29-31

Every church meeting is influenced by three things:
  • The gospel of Jesus Christ
  • The organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • The culture of church members.  
The gospel of Jesus Christ is pure, eternal, and consists of the doctrines and principles that are the pathway that leads to becoming like Jesus Christ, and thus exaltation.

The organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the manifestation of the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth in our dispensation.  Although the gospel has not changed, the organization of the church has had slight differences through the dispensations.  For example:  the law of Moses was a very different church organization than the way our church currently looks, however the gospel and purpose behind remains the same.  The organization is divinely inspired and lead by the mouthpiece of the Lord, the prophet, and is put into practice by us, the wonderful but imperfect members of the church. Although the organization is perfect, the execution is not always perfect.

The culture of the church consists of the habits and traditions of the members of the church.  Some of those cultural traditions are harmless, like putting carrots in your green jello, or the never discussed but fierce competition to see how many folding chairs you can carry at a time after the meeting is over so you can finally go home and eat dinner (that is if Mom will ever stop talking).  However, the danger of the culture is that some of it begins to be taught as doctrine, which can lead to giant misunderstandings and misconceptions.  (Click here for an example regarding the phrase "moderation in all things".)  When we, as members of the church, are not diligent in our personal gospel study direct from the source -- the scriptures and the words of the prophets -- and having our study confirmed by prayer and personal revelation through the Holy Ghost, we are in essence learning the possibly unfounded culture of the church and not the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Alma chapter 1 there was a man who "had gone among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God."  (Alma 1:3, emphasis added)  We aren't actually told what his intent was, it could have begun well meaning, maybe he was even the Sunday School Teacher, but in the end he was teaching what HE termed to be the word of God, not the "pure testimony", meaning the doctrine, as Alma suggests to us in Alma 4:19.  His teachings were not correct.  They were not doctrine.  In fact, because it was unfounded in the doctrine, what he was teaching was priestcraft. (Alma 1:12)  But "he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words."  (Alma 1:5, emphasis added)

I guarantee you the many that did believe on his words were not the ones that were sincerely and regularly studying their scriptures (more than just reading, but also studying with the intent to learn).  They were the ones who were familiar with the doctrine, but not so familiar that the subtle but significant inconsistencies or errors were apparent to them.  And those same people, who again may have been well meaning, would repeat that priestcraft to their respective classes and families.  And just like that, a church "culture" had begun to be taught like doctrine.

Learning the gospel from the culture of the church will not be enough to reach exaltation.  We cannot let ourselves be satisfied with it.  Personal and sincere study of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to become like our Heavenly Father.

Guest post by Amy R. Nelson find more of her writings on her blog They May Be Light by clicking here.