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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 33 - The Patriarchal Blessing

A very special office within the Melchizedek Priesthood is the office of Patriarch.  Like the ancient Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the modern Patriarch's duty is to give a special blessing called a Patriarchal Blessing.  We will discuss what it is and the like.

Said the Prophet Joseph Smith, "Wherever the Church of Christ is established in the earth, there should be a Patriarch for the benefit of the posterity of the Saints, as it was with Jacob in giving his patriarchal blessing unto his sons. (TPJS, p. 151)"  If one may recall, Jacob gave twelve special blessings to his twelve special sons.  They foretold the eternal possibilities of each person.  So it is with the modern Patriarchs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; eternal possibilities of each person is made known through the Patriarch, and will come to pass according to the person's worthiness.

Elder John A. Widstoe said of Patriarchal Blessings, "The patriarch, looking into the future, enumerates the blessings and promises, some special, others general, to which the person of the proper lineage . . . is entitled; and through his authority seals them upon him, so that they may be his forever through faithfulness. (Evidences and Reconciliations 1:73-74)"

Elder LeGrand Richards put it this way:

If we do not know where we are going, then we are just like a ship on the ocean without a rudder, without anyone to steer. We are tossed to and fro with the wind and the waves. But if we understand where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going, then we are more likely to reach the desired port. That is really the purpose of a patriarchal blessing, to be able to interpret and reveal to us, through the inspiration of the Almighty, why we are here and what is expected of us that we might fill the measure of our creation here upon the earth. ("Patriarchal Blessings", Enisgn, September 1981)

President James E. Faust stated, "Our patriarchal blessings indicate what the Lord expects of us and what our potential is. Our blessings can encourage us when we are discouraged, strengthen us when we are fearful, comfort us when we sorrow, give us courage when we are filled with anxiety, lift us up when we are weak in spirit. ("Patriarchal Blessings, Liahona, June 1983)"  I try to read my Patriarchal Blessing at least once a week.  I know that they are inspired of God.  

I know that the Patriarchal office is of God, and that the blessings given by the noble Patriarchs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are lighthouses, as it were, steering us as individuals away from the ragged rocks of the Adversary and into the Harbor of the Celestial Kingdom if we would only live right.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Evils of Gossiping and Fault-finding

My most hated character trait that I have is my outspokenness.  Some may term it opinionated, holier-than-thou, etc.  I have realized of late that when I gossip or find fault with others, I lose the Spirit of the Lord and am left to myself.  In this essay, we will examine what the scriptures say about gossiping and the evils that flow therefrom, and try and find ways not to do so.

D&C 42:27 states, "Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor, nor do him any harm."  "Cease to contend one with another; cease to speak evil one of another. (D&C 136:23)"  These two scriptures are listed in the Index to the Triple Combination.  When I read the latter verse, I had a flash of inspiration, in that talking to OURSELVES about a person in a fault-finding manner also is included in this sin of Gossiping.  All the Presidents of the Church have taught that thoughts always precede actions, and that in order to maintain the Spirit of the Lord within our systems, thoughts must be controlled.  Thus said the Lord through Brigham Young, "Let your words tend to edifying one another. (D&C 136:24)"  I would go so far as to change it into "let your THOUGHTS tend to edifying one another", because it is our thoughts that leads to anything and everything we do.

The foregoing seems sufficient to call our attention to ourselves.  I am not writing this essay to call attention to anyone else but the reader (including and especially me, because I also reread after completion, thus falling into that category of reader).  Are we leading our lives as the Messiah would have us do?  In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matt 5:13)"  In ancient times, salt was used not only to give flavor to a morsel of food, but to preserve it.  Meat was heavily salted, especially during the winter months, in order that it might keep longer.  It (salt) also preserved the food from impurities.  Now, how are we Christians, we Latter-day Saints, doing?  Are we letting the Salt of the Gospel preserve us from Satan?  Are we giving flavor to both the secular and religious world, led first by our thoughts, or are we being spoiled thought the evil thoughts and backbiting we have against others?

I myself pledge to put Thumper's philosophy (from Bambi) into action.  "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all."  If we can't THINK anything nice, we should think of the Nicest and Purest Man who ever lived, and follow His example.  He is ever merciful to us, in regards to our failings and shortcomings.  So should we be with those we meet.

I know the Savior lives, that He taught goodness in thought and action, and that He has restored His Church on the earth today, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Declaration of Easter

Today being Easter Sunday, I will promote the Mormon views on Easter and the Christ.

Nothing but joy can emanate from my heart on a day like today.  It was a warm day in Provo, UT, and testimony rang from the sermons at Church regarding the Christ.  Still, many outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wonder of our declaration of the Christ on Easter, and I feel to give it here, as spoken by the Prophets and Apostles, both of old and of modern origin.  Then I will give my own knowledge pertaining thereto.

It is amazing to me that One so pure and undefiled would be willing to put His life on the line - both His physical and spiritual life - to expiate my every sin.  But, not only did Jesus do that for me, He did that for you - He took upon Himself every pain, sorrow, heartache, sadness, loss, difficulty, blemish (physical and otherwise), inadequacy, trauma, etc. - for you and me and everyone who has, does now, or will yet live upon the earth.  "For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent. . . . Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit. (D&C 19:16-18)"  This suffering took place in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The Master was then taken to a mock trial, and afterward crucified between two thieves.  Elder McConkie tells us that whilst Messiah was hanging on the cross "all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane recurred" ("The Purifying Power of Gethsemane", Ensign, May 1985).

After three days, a most marvelous, miraculous, and transcendent event occurred.  As prophesied by many ancient prophets, "now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept" (1 Cor. 15:20).  Because of this Resurrected Christ, we need not fear with the lowering of the body into the cold and silent grave, but rather rejoice evermore in that Christ hath swallowed up death in Himself, He having the key to the bottomless pit.  

We need not trust in just the written word alone for this knowledge, for it has been given anew by modern Prophets and Apostles that Christ is indeed risen again from the dead.  Joseph Smith taught, 

The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father. (D&C 110:1-4)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, 

And now, as pertaining to this perfect Atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that He is the Son of the living God and was crucified for the sins of the world.  He is our Lord, our God, and our King.  This I know of myself, independent of any other person.  I am one of His witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in His hands and in His feet and shall wet His feet with my tears.  But I shall not know any better then than I know now that He is God’s Almighty Son, that He is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through His atoning blood and in no other way ("Purifying Power", Ensign, May 1985).

President Gordon B. Hinckley testified boldly, "He is our triumphant Lord. He is our Redeemer, who atoned for our sins. Through His redeeming sacrifice all men shall rise from the grave. He has opened the way whereby we may gain not only immortality but also eternal life.  As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I bear witness and testimony of these things this Easter day. I speak in solemnity and reverence and gratitude" ("He Is Not Here, but Is Risen", Ensign, May 1999).

I also bear record that I, Clark LeRay Herlin, know with assurance, that Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead.  This doctrine taught I in California for two years, and have been teaching the doctrine online for the past two also.  I know that Christ lives and that we will see our loved ones who have died again, and that in our own bodies - all because of One single life - that of Jesus the Christ.  In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Prayer and Offenses Eminating Therefrom: But to Kick God Out?

From the Provo Daily Herald, 15 April 2011, an article appears wherein it is announced that the National Day of Prayer is no longer ruled unconstitutional.  The article reads, "A three-judge panel of the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation did not have standing to sue [against the National Day of Prayer ruling] because while they disagree with the president's proclamation, it has not caused them any harm."  Apparently, the Atheists hate God so much, that they must do everything to stamp Him out of the public square.  Just because one person believes in God with conviction, but the FFRF says otherwise (and that militantly, too) does not give the Atheists right to whine to the nation's highest courts because they are apparently offended because of prayer.  If they don't like God, then so be it.  They should not try to kick Him out of America.

The article quotes Rev. Barry W. Lynn as saying, "This decision is part of ominous trend in the federal courts to deny Americans the right to challenge church-state violations."  Well, Reverend Lynn, that is a cop-out, and you know it.  To claim that a nationally publicized admonition (because that's what it is - just an admonition) from the President of the United States to pray is a breach of church-state violations is preposterous.  The National Day of Prayer has been ruled constitutional since 1952, and all the sudden now it is unconstitutional because it offends some poor whiny Atheist?!

We cannot and must not kick God out of the public square.  Prophecy says we must not do so.  Alma 46:12-13, 18 reads, 

And it came to pass that [Captain Moroni] rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it— In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.  And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land— And he said: Surely God shall not suffer that we, who are despised because we take upon us the name of Christ, shall be trodden down and destroyed, until we bring it upon us by our own transgressions.

In the July 1990 Ensign, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "[The Constitutional] provision securing religious liberty was divinely inspired, not only to bless the inhabitants of this nation but also to stand as an example to all the nations of the world."  

I therefore declare that the move by the Wisconsin judges is in keeping with what God, through scripture, has declared must forever be, or we must be destroyed.  That is, God must be kept in the public square because it is He - and He alone - who has given us all that we have, whether that be food, the air we breathe, our material possessions, or our divinely sanctioned Liberty. 
I know if America keeps God in the public square, He will keep the United States of America truly free - free from sin and from both seen and unseen enemies.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 32 - The Whisperings of the Holy Ghost

President Joseph Smith taught, "Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom.  Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. (Manuscript History of Brigham Young 1846–1847, comp. Elden J. Watson (1971), p. 529)"

The most challenging thing for Christiandom to realize is how to recognize the Holy Ghost's influence.

The Influence of the Holy Ghost
The Apostle Paul taught what the influence of the Holy Spirit feels like.  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. (Gal. 5:22)"  Likewise did the Prophet Joseph Smith teach, "It will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God. (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, p. 529)"

The Holy Ghost will bear witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the Bible, because the Spirit of Truth cannot be restrained.  Every time I read the Book of Mormon, the Spirit reconfirms the truth of that Book and the reality of Jesus Christ the Son of God.  It also confirms the prophetic mantle that was on Joseph Smith and that is currently on Thomas S. Monson.

Now, dear reader, the Spirit speaks in different ways to different people, and one must find and learn to recognize the way it speaks to him.  For me, it is a tangible feeling of warmth and joy unspeakable.  This warm, joyous feeling lifts my mind to a higher plain.  My thoughts are clear, my hear rejoices.

Modern prophets can help describe the Spirit's workings better than I.  In the May 2000 issue of the Ensign, President Boyd K. Packer taught, "The voice of the Spirit is a still, small voice—a voice that is felt rather than heard.  It is a spiritual voice that comes into the mind as a thought put into your heart."    President Joseph Smith taught, "A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus. (History of the Church, 3:381)" 

When the Holy Ghost speaks, sometimes words cannot describe its influence, although they are helpful.  President James E. Faust said, "The Holy Ghost bears witness to us of the truth and impresses upon our souls the reality of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, so surely that no earthly power or authority can separate us from that knowledge. (April 2001 General Conference, "Born Again"; see May 2001 Ensign)"  When the Holy Ghost speaks, although one may not know how to explain it, one knows the Spirit is speaking.

I know that the Holy Ghost is real and does speak to man.  I know that it will testify to the veracity of the Book of Mormon and to Joseph Smith's calling as a Prophet.  If one works at it hard enough with a sincere heart, God will answer him through revelation from the Holy Ghost.  In the name of Jesus the Messiah.  Amen.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

From the Heart and Soul of a Mormon

I feel it needed that my witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ be written down for generations to see.

I, Clark LeRay Herlin, know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, my Savior.  I know that the Bible is true and teaches of the need for Jesus.  I know that Jesus Christ came down as God's Only Begotten Son and atoned for my sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross of Calvary.  I know he was resurrected after three days in the tomb.  I know He has a body of flesh and bone, like His Father's.  I know They live with bodies of flesh and bone.

I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and that he translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God.  I know that Joseph Smith received the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods from John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John respectively.  I know that Joseph Smith gave the Priesthood Keys he held into the hands of the entire Quorum of the Twelve Apostles before he and Hyrum were martyred.  I know those Keys are with the LDS Church today.

By knowing that the Book of Mormon is true, I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that Joseph Smith was the Prophet called of God to restore His Church, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church upon the face of the earth.  I know that the Priesthood Keys are vested within said Church, and no other church.

I know the Authority to bind families together forever can only be found and used in the Houses of the Lord built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I know that I will have my wife in the eternities in the marriage relationship because of the Sealing Authority, which Authority is only within the LDS Church.

I know that the Word of Wisdom was given by God through Joseph Smith, and that by abiding within it's principles our temporal salvation is secure.

I know that Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet of God today - the only man authorized by God to use all the Priesthood Keys.  I know that the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles now living are prophets, seers, and revelators and speak God's will for us today.

I know that the calamities spoken by ancient and modern prophets will be poured out upon those who do not follow God's servants.  I know all I have previously written within The Mormon Eagle is true, and is my witness, forever given to the world through the medium of the Internet.

I know God lives, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that the LDS Church is true - the only true Church - through the power of the Holy Spirit.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 31 - The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage

A commentator to The Mormon Eagle (Tim) wonders whether or not Plural Marriage is the New and Everlasting Covenant or not.  Therefore, this essay will define it from a scriptural and doctrinal point of view.

Doctrine and Covenants 132:3-4 state, "Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.  For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory. (italics added)"  Here the Lord uses the phrase "the new and everlasting covenant", and decrees damnation if not entered into.  Said President Spencer W. Kimball, "Though relatively few people in this world understand it, the new and everlasting covenant is the marriage ordinance in the holy temple by the properly constituted leaders who hold the genuine, authoritative keys.  This glorious blessing is available to men and women on this earth. (“Temples and Eternal Marriage,” Ensign, Aug. 1974, p. 5, emphasis added)"  It is called new because it is revealed anew in every Gospel dispensation.  It is called everlasting in that it has been enjoyed by God's people since the beginning of the world, even since Adam and Eve.

Joseph Smith taught, "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; 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.  He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase. (D&C 131:1-4)"  Joseph Smith also taught, 

Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory. (History of the Church, 5:391)

Thus we see that the New and Everlasting Covenant is marriage, although the Lord connected Plural Marriage with it for a time, but no longer does so.  

There are certain blessings only available to those who are married by the Priesthood Authority only held in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In regards to these blessing the Lord has stated, 

And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.  Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them.  Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them (D&C 132:19-20).

President Spencer W. Kimball taught, "It matters not how righteous they may have been, how intelligent or how well trained they are.  No one will enter this highest glory unless he enters into the covenant, and this means the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. ( “The Importance of Celestial Marriage,” Ensign, Oct. 1979, pp. 5–6 )"

The Lord taught this doctrine to His ancient Apostles when He said, "
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matt. 16:19)"  

I know that only marriage in the Houses of the Lord of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can assure the perpetuation of the marriage relationship.  If one is married in any place other than a Mormon Temple, he cannot enter into God's presence and dwell with his family forever.  I know this is true, and I defy Earth and Hell to say otherwise.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 30 - Continual Revelation

The main complaint of the critics of the Book of Mormon as well as the LDS Church in regards to revelation is that one cannot add or take away from scripture and also that no other revelations will be given anymore.  This is not true, and is contrary to the scriptures.  President John Taylor taught, "We believe that it is necessary for man to be placed in communication with God, . . . not revelation in former times, but present and immediate revelation" (“What the Gospel Teaches,” February 1, 1874, in Journal of Discourses 16:369).  We will examine the need for immediate revelation in our day.

Do Not Add to or Take Away
The critics quote Revelation 22:18-19, which read, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (emphasis added)."  Notice herein that the phrase "this book" is used in some form or another four times.  John the Seer is here stating that if anyone adds unto (or takes away from) the book of Revelation, then shall the plagues not be stayed.  Moses said the same thing in Deuteronomy chapters four and thirty, but the Bible is much longer than just Deuteronomy.
One must also remember that the Bible (the Old and New Testament) was not completely compiled into what we know today until well after John the Revelator's translation.  Dr. Bruce M. Metzger stated that of the entire library of 5,366 known Greek New Testament manuscripts, only 35 contain the whole New Testament as we now know it, and 34 of those were compiled after A.D. 1000 (see Bruce M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Greek Paleography (1981), 54–55). 

The Word of God
When I was on my mission in California, I had nearly identical experiences within the same week.  When my missionary roommates and I went to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, we were told (although incorrectly) that the Bible was the Word of God and nothing else, or in other words the Bible is all the revelations of God and God would send no more revelations.  Later that week, my companion and I were told by a ten-year-old kid that the Bible was the Word of God and no other scripture exists.  Both the Pastors at Saddleback Church as well as the child were wrong .  In John 1:1, John the Beloved calls Jesus Christ the Word of God: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  The Joseph Smith Translation of John 1:1 states it differently, but clear enough to agree with my position.  "In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son.  And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God."  We learn from both these verses that Christ is the Word of God; the Gospel of Christ is also the Word of God, which Word of God is revealed anew in each new dispensation of time.

Revelation 19:13 states that Jesus' "name is called The Word of God."  Again is Christ mentioned as the Word of God - not the Bible or the Book of Mormon - but Jesus the Christ, the source of the Word of Eternal Life, the source of all revelation, past, present, and yet future. 

Now, when Mormons state that they know the Bible, Book of Mormon, etc., are the word of God, they are saying that God inspired those books.  The meaning of the phrase " . . . is the word of God" is not the end-all be-all to what God will reveal to His people, but rather that God gives His word (the Gospel) to His people and that He will give more if they will receive His teachings.  Nephi put it plainly when he wrote, 

And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible!  A Bible!  We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. . . . Know ye not that there are more nations than one?  Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?  Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word?  Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness  unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another?  Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.  And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure.  And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.  Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. (2 Nephi 29:3, 7-10)

In other words, revelation from God is continual, and will never cease as long as God has a prophet on the earth.

I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are true; that they teach of Jesus Christ the Word of God, our Savior and Redeemer.  They also both teach the principle of continual revelation.  I know that if we truly receive the Bible and Book of Mormon as they are, they will lead us to the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In the name of Jesus Christ the Word of God, amen!

Mormon Theology no. 29 - Polygamy and the LDS Church

With the myriad of articles about the Polygamist groups and their Trust Fund issues saturating the press, The Mormon Eagle feels to announce the LDS Church's official policy on Plural Marriage or Polygamy.

At one time the principle of Plural Marriage was sanctioned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and for a time was connected with the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, but is no longer connected therewith.  Therefore, Plural Marriage is no longer a policy of The Church of Jesus Christ.  President Wilford Woodruff stated in 1890, "We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice" (Official Declaration - 1).

President Joseph F. Smith had this to say in 1904, after hearing that new plural marriages were being conducted after the issuance of the Manifest in 1890.  He said, "I hereby announce that all such marriages are prohibited, and if any officer or member of the Church shall assume to solemnize or enter into any such marriage, he will be deemed in transgression against the Church, and will be liable to be dealt with according to the rules and regulations thereof and excommunicated therefrom" (Conference Report, April 1904, p. 97).

In the October 1998 General Conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, 

If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose.  Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church. . . . There is no such thing as a "Mormon Fundamentalist."  It is a contradiction to use the two words together.  More than a century ago God clearly revealed unto His prophet Wilford Woodruff that the practice of plural marriage should be discontinued, which means that it is now against the law of God.  Even in countries where civil or religious law allows polygamy, the Church teaches that marriage must be monogamous and does not accept into its membership those practicing plural marriage.

Thus The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' position is stated clear as day, shining as the Sun in a cloudless sky, that none be led astray or brought into the buffetings of Satan.  

I know that the principle of Celestial Marriage is of God, and at this time God has stated that Plural Marriages are to be non-existent in His Church.  If they were to be reinstated, Heavenly Father would make it known through His chosen Prophet, the President of the Church, who at this time is President Thomas S. Monson - chosen because he is the only man on Earth authorized by God to exercise all the Priesthood keys.  In the Name of Jesus our Savior, amen.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 28 - The Law of Chastity

Mormons neither drink coffee, tea, smoke tobacco (or anything else, for that matter), nor do drugs.  The starkest contrast, in my opinion, between Mormons and the rest of the Gentile world is that Mormons are told not to have sex before marriage, and to be completely faithful after marriage.  What is the basis for the Law of Chastity, and what does it entail?

The Lord told Moses in simplicity, "Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Ex. 20:14)"  The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith a similar command, when he said, "Thou shalt . . .  not . . . commit adultery, nor do anything like unto it. (D&C 59:6)"  Alma the Younger gave us the reason why.  He taught his wayward son Corianton, "Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost? (Alma 39:5)"

As we have heretofore enunciated the tenants of this doctrine as to what it is, we will now answer the question:  why be morally clean?

The Case for Sexual Morality
The Lord told the ancient Israelites in the simplest of terms, "Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy. (Lev. 19:2)"

That seems simple enough to reason with any man.  David expounds slightly on why we should be holy, namely because "Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever. (Ps. 93:5)"  Only the Latter-day Saints understand the true purposes of the House of the Lord, and as David says, it is used to make men holy.  Since no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God, this uncleanliness the Lord speaks of must include sexual immorality; and that sexual immorality must be purged from within us.

What Rests Under the Sexual Immorality Title?
King Benjamen taught that almost everything we do could lead to sexual immorality, and that we must be ever watchful so as to not be ensnared thereby.  He taught, "But this much I can tell you, that if ye do no watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not. (Mosiah 4:30, emphasis added)"  President David O. McKay remarked, "The kind of life you live, your disposition, your very nature, will be determined by your thoughts, of which your acts are but the outward expression. Thought is the seed of action. (Treasures of Life, comp. Clare Middlemiss (1962), p. 200)"

Also included within sexual immorality is pornography.  Said President Gordon B. Hinckley,

Sin it is. It is devilish. It is totally inconsistent with the spirit of the gospel, with personal testimony of the things of God, and with the life of one who has been ordained to the holy priesthood. . . . all who are involved become victims. Children are exploited, and their lives are severely damaged. The minds of youth become warped with false concepts. Continued exposure leads to addiction that is almost impossible to break. Men, so very many, find they cannot leave it alone. Their energies and their interests are consumed in their dead-end pursuit of this raw and sleazy fare. . . . It leads to fantasies that are destructive of self-respect. It leads to illicit relationships, often to disease, and to abusive criminal activity. ("A Tragic Evil Among Us", November 2004 Liahona)

I know that if we as a nation are sexually pure, faithful entirely to our spouses, and chaste in thought and deed, the Spirit of the Lord will be with us more; the nations of the earth would prosper, both temporally and spiritually; crime would diminish; and love of God and of man will increase and peace reign supreme.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

LDS Church Eliminates Student Wards and Stakes

The Deseret News reports that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is no longer using Student Stakes in exchange for Young Single Adult Stakes.  "Fifty-five years after it created its first student wards and stakes at BYU, the LDS Church is doing away with its 'student' unit designation.  And in its place are newly formed 'young single adult' wards and stakes throughout Utah as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reorganizes, realigns and renames its congregational units for Mormons ages 18 to 30."  This is a bold move for the LDS Church to make, but when brought into the light of the most recent General Conference, one sees why the move was made.  President Thomas S. Monson stated during the Conference, "There is a point at which it’s time to think seriously about marriage and to seek a companion with whom you want to spend eternity. If you choose wisely and if you are committed to the success of your marriage, there is nothing in this life which will bring you greater happiness. ("Priesthood Power", April 2011 General Conference)"

The Deseret News states that Student Wards that normally were located around college campuses will be replaced with Young Single Adult Wards and Stakes, so that there might be "all-encompassing young single adult wards and stakes for any Latter-day Saint — student or not — in the 18-to-30 age group."  This realignment will sometimes even alter a Ward's geographic boundary in order to encompass as many Young Single Adults as possible.

The new Young Single Adult Wards and Stakes will also receive renaming.  "Except in rare circumstances, young single adult wards stakes will not carry institutional names like BYU 5th Stake but rather city or other community-related names, such as Provo Utah 1st YSA Stake or Salt Lake City 10th YSA Ward."  The change is currently underway along the Wasatch Front, and could effect up to 90,000 Young Single Adults in Salt Lake and Davis Counties, as well as at least 65,000 Mormons in Utah County, the location of Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University.

Elder Steven E. Snow of the Presidency of the Seventy gave reason for the change.  He said,  

We hope it reduces confusion in their minds — where their priesthood leaders are, where they should go to church, where they should worship.  We hope it will provide enhanced opportunities to serve in leadership positions and to teach and lead. We hope it enhances their opportunities to meet other people and to give opportunities. And we want to deliver this opportunities in a geographic area and not require them to travel clear across the valley to attend church.

The Deseret News states that in areas where commuting to Church is a drive clear across the Valley (in order to attend the University of Utah Student Wards), now LDS Young Single Adults can attend Church near their home or apartment without the long drive.  

The transition began apparently as long as a year ago at Weber State University in Ogden, UT.  Changes similarly followed in St. George, Cedar City, and Ephraim, UT for Dixie State College, Southern Utah University, and Snow College, respectively.  Logan's Utah State University transitioned in August of 2010.  

A new facility will be located on 900 East in Provo to house Bishops' Offices for 48 new Young Single Adult Wards with additional facilities for four Young Single Adult Stakes.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 27 - Fasting and Prayer

From the Connect2Utah website, we read, "Some people skip meals for religious reasons, diets or political protest. But now, new research suggests fasting is good for your health.  Research cardiologists at Intermountain Medical Center are reporting that fasting periodically lowers one's risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes."

Notwithstanding that fasting is good for your health, what are the reasons Mormons fast?  How often?  Is it necessary?  We shall see.

Why a Fast?
It is recorded in Scripture that Moses fasted; that for "forty days . . . he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. (Ex. 34:28)"  In this instance, Moses was in the Mountain of the Lord in Sinai, and he needed not only revelation, but he also needed to purify himself before God.  Fasting is a way to do that.  During the April 2001 General Conference, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve said, "Fasting, coupled with mighty prayer, is powerful. It can fill our minds with the revelations of the Spirit."  Who can doubt that during Moses' seclusion atop the Mountain of the Lord he received revelations from the Lord?  Any student of the Bible can see from this event that fasting brings revelation.  This is also shown during the mortal ministry of Jesus, "when He had fasted forty days and forty nights (Matt 4:2)".  That Jesus drew upon the power of fasting and prayer is evident when Christ refuted his fallen brother Satan's temptations by quoting from Scripture, the knowledge of which no doubt came to the Master through study and fasting and prayer.

When I am feeling tempted more than I can bear, or need answers I know I cannot find on my own, I fast one meal.  More often than not, the answers do not come immediately, but they do come.  I know fasting is a principle laid down by the Lord that His children might draw closer to Him.

How Often Must We Fast?
Elder Wirthlin taught, "In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members are encouraged to fast whenever their faith needs special fortification and to fast regularly once each month on fast day. On that day, we go without eating or drinking for two consecutive meals, [and] commune with our Heavenly Father."  President Howard W. Hunter taught that "there are records that indicate that some fast meetings were held in the Kirtland Temple on the first Thursday of each month in the year 1836. (Ensign, November 1985)"  President Brigham Young elaborates,

You know that the first Thursday in each month we hold as a fast day.   How many here know the origin of this day?  Before tithing was paid, the poor were supported by donations.  They came to Joseph and wanted help, in Kirtland, and he said there should be a fast day, which was decided upon.  It was to be held once a month, as it is now, and all that would have been eaten that day, of flour, or meat, or butter, or fruit, or anything else, was to be carried to the fast meeting and put into the hands of a person selected for the purpose of taking care of it and distributing it among the poor (JD 12:115)

The first Thursday of every month was Fast Day until, as President Hunter states, "the first Sunday of December, 1896, was the date set for the change.  From that time to the present—nearly a century—the fast day has been observed, in most instances, on the first Sunday of the month as a religious practice."

I know that fasting is a commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I know that if anyone on Earth has a question, burden, or spiritual or temporal need, fasting will alleviate that need.  I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church on the earth; that God established it for the eternal salvation of man, both living and dead.  In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Ignorant Ramblings of the Misinformed

From First Thoughts, a Catholic blog, we read,

A friend, still cross at the Mormon Glenn Beck for telling Christians to leave their churches, wrote last night asking if Mormonism is a form of Christianity or another religion, and I would be grateful for your thoughts.  
There are a couple of tests. . . . One is the teaching of the major Christian traditions on Mormon baptism. . . . If the baptisms are not Christian baptisms, the baptized are not Christians.

 Now, plain it is for one to see that this first argument is invalid, for Mormons baptize in the Name of Jesus Christ, in the Authority of the Holy Priesthood, which Priesthood Jesus Christ, Peter, James, and John held.  This same Priesthood was restored by John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John in early 1829, thus leaving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the only religion on Earth with legitimate Authority from God.   This will settle the argument of the foolish:

Baptism is to be administered in the following manner unto all those who repent— The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.  Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water. (D&C 20:72-74)

After this tirade comes to an end, it is mentioned that Mormonism can be judged to be a non-Christian religion.  The writer of the blog says, "Is [Mormonism] close enough to count as a form of Christianity?  A Lutheran friend suggested that it is, but I don’t think so."

First Things than argues that Joseph Smith, although not breaking off from a specific church, taught from personal revelation rather than Scripture.  It is true that Joseph Smith did not receive Mormonism from the pages of the Bible, but rather from direct revelation from God.  However, in all his sermons wherein he expounds Mormon doctrine, he uses the Bible as a text to explain and expound Mormonism, which he does better than anyone I have ever read.

Since the only religion duly Authorized by God (as proven heretofore in The Mormon Eagle) to teach the correct doctrine which Christ taught is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then it must follow that Mormonism in the only correct Christian religion on the face of the earth.  In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Bridle the Tongue

The Deseret News has published the words of President David O. McKay.  This is what he said on Sunday 11 April 1954: "The tongue spreads wickedness, hatred, envy, bitterness, gossip, lying and slander.  The damage and destruction caused by the H-bomb is microscopic when compared to the damage done by the tongue."  I believe this is verily true.  The saying goes, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."  True a courageous man might stand and take it, then give no ill word back in return, but the truth is, WORDS DO HURT!

How many boys and girls at school - whether in Elementary, Middle, or High School - how many end their lives because of the knives thrown from the mouths of others!  We read, "One morning, two months into his junior year of high school, Tyler Long changed out of his pajamas and into his favorite T-shirt and jeans. He strapped a belt around his neck and hanged himself from the top shelf in his bedroom closet. (ABC News)"  Confusion beyond all reason rises up when one considers that Tyler Long killed himself because he was just being himself - subconsciously reacting to a condition he was born with!  He couldn't control it; it was actually a blessing in disguise for him because it kept him more rule-minded than most.  The trouble was, he would tell other people the rules when they were broken, and they got mad, hurling their vicious words as knives at Tyler.

Tyler Long is an unfortunate case.  But it is fortunate that Tyler now is learning the teachings of One who never gave offense; One who never said an ill word to or about others; One who understands completely what all mortals go through; One who never broke a rule in His short, holy life; One who blesses all with His goodness if they will receive it!!  How hurtful was it to the Son of Man to hear those words from the Romans on the night of His betrayal and trial, when the soldiers "platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. (John 19:2-3)"?  How pained was the Redeemer of the world "when the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. (John 19:6)"?  Those words must have hurt Him in more ways mortals have power to comprehend.  We know He was sorrowful, not only because of how their words must have stung Him emotionally, but how their words must have stung at Him spiritually, knowing that the actions of the Romans and the Jews that April night would be their own judges on the matter.  But what do we read the Savior saying about them to His Father?  "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)"  Not only did Jesus not offend, but he offered mercy and forgiveness to all.

Well doth James the Apostle say, "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. . . . Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.  Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?  Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. (James 3:5-6, 10-12)"  Brother James' words have become timeless.  Even as a fountain cannot bring for both clean and filthy water, so, indeed, should it be with our tongues.  We should learn to lead our tongues as the horse is led - with a bridle. 

May we ever bridle our tongues and think and say what the Savior would say in all we do!  I know that if the mind is under control, then the tongue will be as well.  Because of our words men will either be drawn towards or away from us.  In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 26 - Fear, Doubt, and Discouragement

This morning I unexpectedly awoke with anger within my heart.  I yelled at my wife Alicia for no apparent reason.  Deep down, I knew the reason: I had a test I wasn't prepared for (I failed, anyways).  Compounded therewith was the anxiety of knowing I do not have a job, yet I must and still am struggling with school.  What am I to do?  What are these emotions suddenly placed in my head, and how do I dispel them?  In this essay, we will find answers.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, while serving as President of Brigham Young University, once said, "a problem that is universal and that can, at any given hour, strike anywhere . . . is a form of evil. . . . I speak of doubt—especially self-doubt—of discouragement, and of despair" ("For Times of Trouble", BYU Devotional Address, 18 March 1980).  The scriptures speak of hope as an anchor to the soul.  I submit that if hope is an anchor to the soul then doubt and despair and discouragement is an anchor limiting one's progression in this life; none will accomplish anything while despair rages.

I feel impressed to mold the remainder of this essay on a talk given by President Ezra Taft Benson.  It is titled "Do Not Despair" and can be found in the October issue of the 1986 Ensign magazine.  He writes, "To help us from being overcome by the devil’s designs of despair, discouragement, depression, and despondency, the Lord has provided at least a dozen ways which, if followed, will lift our spirits and send us on our way rejoicing."  We will next examine, from both historical accounts and from scripture, some ways to eliminate fear, doubt, despondency, depression, and self-loathing.

God only answers prayers that are sincere; for a prayer to truly be sincere the person praying must have evidently endeavored to right his life, or to repent of his sins.   Moroni 10:22 tells us that despair comes because of iniquity - and only because of iniquity.  Whether that iniquity is an actual sin (such as pornography), or a sin of omission (such as skipping school), despair eventually comes.

Let me illustrate.  According to President Oliver Cowdery in Messenger and Advocate, July 1835, p. 157, when Joseph Smith was walking to the Hill Cumorah, he thought much about the Gold Plates and how they could alleviate his family from abject poverty.

President Cowdery explains that Joseph Smith tried three times to lift the Plates from their burial grounds, but was literally shocked each time.  Joseph Smith then exclaimed "Why cannot I obtain this book?"  The Angel Moroni then appeared and said, "Because you have not kept the commandments of the Lord" (Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1835, 198).  In other words, even Joseph Smith, the Lord's chosen Prophet to the last Dispensation, had need to repent.  Now, the above event described by Oliver Cowdery occurred when Joseph Smith was just 17.  Apparently it took Joseph four more years to fully repent, receive tutoring from the Lord, and prepare himself before he could receive the plates.  We must therefore ask ourselves, as the Apostles did at the Last Supper, "Lord, is it I?"  What must I change in order to more fully gain thy Spirit back?  Truly repentance prevents doubt!

This one is a little more obvious.  The prophet Nephi wrote, 

If ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.  But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will concecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul. (2 Nephi 32:8-9)

When the Savior was burdened with the sins of the world, He prayed and was strengthened by Micheal the Archangel, also known as Adam.  As the Perfect Example, Jesus has truly set down prayer as a means to lift fear.

King Benjamen said in his remarkable address, "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17)"  President Lorenzo Snow taught, "When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated. (Conference Report, 6 Apr. 1899, pp. 2–3)"

People volunteer so often because it naturally lifts people to a higher plane of thought and action, making Earth a better place.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said it best.  In the May 1979 issue of The Ensign, he said,

We are here on earth to work—to work long, hard, arduous hours, to work until our backs ache and our tired muscles knot, to work all our days. This mortal probation is one in which we are to eat our bread in the sweat of our faces until we return to the dust from whence we came.  Work is the law of life; it is the ruling principle in the lives of the Saints. We cannot, while physically able, voluntarily shift the burden of our own support to others. Doles abound in evils. Industry, thrift, and self-respect are essential to salvation.

Indeed, thus said the Lord to our Father Adam, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Gen. 3:19)"  In the Lord's eyes, work is fundamental to not only care for oneself, one's spouse, and one's children, but also for the preservation of self-respect.  All know that millions ended their own lives in the height of the Great Depression because they were out of work and had no self-respect.  Let us work at working harder, is my prayer.

The Lord gives some specific guidance on health, and how it can counter despondency and depression.  "Cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated. (D&C 88:124)"  When one sleeps either to much or too little, it is harder to find the desire to be up and doing at the start of the day; plus adequate sleep stems off sickness and disease, and therefore, despondency.  Joseph Smith the Prophet was a model of physical health:  he loved physical exercises, like wrestling and pulling sticks.  Because of his physical stature and physical fitness, he was also able to escape his enemies from time to time.  Elder Parley P. Pratt wrote, "President Joseph Smith was in person tall and well built, strong and active; of a light complexion, light hair, blue eyes, very little beard, and of an expression peculiar to himself" (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 45-46).  President Joseph F. Smith said of his uncle the Prophet Joseph that the Prophet had fun "in playing ball, in wrestling with his brothers and scuffling with them, and enjoying himself" ("Joseph, the Prophet,” Salt Lake Herald Church and Farm Supplement, Jan. 12, 1895, 211).  Thus was the Prophet an example of good health to all who knew him.

I love to read.  Whenever I am downcast, I go to a quiet place and open up the Book of Mormon and begin to read.  Each time I do so, although I may not yet be in the mood, the spirit of doubt, fear, depression, and despair leaves and the Spirit of the Lord enters in.  Truly the scriptures are a great healing balm.

I also read histories whenever I can.  It inspires me to learn of the mistakes and foibles of the past so that I might learn from them and ever increase in wisdom and understanding.

When stress enters our lives, we should call upon the powers of Heaven to dispel those evil feelings.  Proper blessings as laid out in the Bible and the Book of Mormon can only be had in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is well known that worry brings sickness.  When sickness, whether from stress or being stressed therefrom, entombs us in our beds, we do as James the Apostle directs.  Saith he, "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:14-15).
Isaiah said it best when he wrote, "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke" (Isaiah 58:6)?  Fasting gave strength to both Moses and the Lord for 40 days and nights.  Fasting causes us to realize that our ultimate blessings come from the Lord, and that we must rely upon Him to give us both our spiritual and temporal foodstuffs.

In the January 1974 Ensign, President Boyd K. Packer stated, "One of the signs of apostasy in the Christian churches today is the willingness of their ministers to compromise and introduce into what had been, theretofore, the most sacred religious meetings the music of the drug and the hard rock culture. Such music has little virtue and it is repellent to the Spirit of God."  I have never read a more true statement than that.  

I will pull a page from my own life as a testimony here.  I used to listen, for a period of about nine months, to Nirvana - and nothing else.  Literally from the rising of the sun until long past its setting did I listen to them.  I emulated Kurt Cobain and the way he wrote music.  Nirvana's music is very depressing.  As such, I went from staunchly believing in God the Father and in His Restored Church into denying His existence.  I was contemplating suicide.  One day, to make a long story short, I was caught in a lie, and all I had left to listen to was LDS religious music.  Worthy music - and only that - is what began my inner change back into The Church of Jesus Christ.  I fell in love with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I am a witness that worthy music that is soft and reverent uplifts, and that the loud trash people call "music" literally destroys spiritual life!  I know this!  Readers, please listen to worthy music, and not settle for the noises of the world.

I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true - the only true Church on Earth.  I know that Satan is the author of doubt, despair, fear, despondency, and depression.  I know that if we implement into our lives the topics I have spoken of, Christ will more easily enter our lives.  In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Hotel Utah/Joseph Smith Memorial Building

The former Hotel Utah, built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is now the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  As large as it is, this building only took two years to build (1909-1911).  The construction of the stately former-hotel was in line with a revelation from the Lord to Joseph Smith, which stated,

Let my servant George, and my servant Lyman, and my servant John Snider, and others, build a house unto my name, such a one as my servant Joseph shall show unto them, upon the place which he shall show unto them also.  And it shall be for a house for boarding, a house that strangers may come from afar to lodge therein; therefore let it be a good house, worthy of all acceptation, that the weary traveler may find health and safety while he shall contemplate the word of the Lord; and the cornerstone I have appointed for Zion. (D&C 124:22-23)

The house that was built came to be known as the Nauvoo House (because the Church was in Nauvoo, IL at the time).  This hotel was to be grand, but by the time of Joseph Smith's murder only the first floor had been completed.  Before he died, all but six rooms in the Mansion House (also in Nauvoo) were converted into a hotel.  The hotel wing was removed in 1890.

When the Saints made it to Utah and finally got out of debt in 1907, the Hotel Utah was completed in 1911.  However, the Church needed to pay off the $2 Million dollar construction loan, so a very fine bar was built in the basement of the Hotel.  President Joseph F. Smith was unquestionably perturbed, according to Dr. Hugh Nibley, but eventually gave in in order to settle the Church's debt (Approaching Zion, p. 470).

From 1987 to 1993, the Hotel Utah was closed and extensively remodeled, opening in 1993 as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  It now serves these functions:
1.  Atop the tenth floor there is The Roof Restaurant, The Garden Restaurant, and many rooms for wedding receptions and other gatherings.  My wife and I had our reception in the Wasatch Room on the tenth floor.  It was amazing, especially the food.
2.  The Nauvoo Cafe' is located on the bottom floor, with more family-friendly prices (around $10 per meal), as opposed to the $50-per-plate in the Roof.
3.  A Family History Center is located on the first floor, with many computers to use to trace family lines.  A large pedigree chart of President George W. Bush hangs on the wall, informing visitors that he descends from Joseph and Emma Smith, as a distant cousin.  President Bush does not descend directly from Joseph and Emma. Their common ancestor is Henry Howland.
4.  The Legacy Theater, a large theater that seats around 500-800 people, shows Church-produced movies.

The main lobby of the building is restored as it looked in 1911.

Salt Lake Temple Stone Symbols

The Salt Lake Temple
The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the international symbol of Mormonism.  To outsiders, it can be seen as a mysterious building of which little is known.  But this confusion concerning LDS beliefs is alleviated by understanding the meaning of the symbols in stone.  President George A. Smith said of the symbolism, "Every one conveys a moral lesson, and all point to the celestial world" (Printed on a Charles W. Carter photographic collage entitled 'Salt Lake City Temple in its different stages of construction,' Archives Division, Church Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah).

An Earth Stone
The Earth Stones (50 in total) may not seem like much.  Originally they were to be carved with images of Earth and the seven continents, but the granite used in construction was not capable of such minute detail.

A Moon Stone
The Moon Stones (50 in number) show the 1878 lunar cycle.  From the June 1978 New Era we learn that there are 13 New Moons, 13 First Quarters, 12 Full Moons, and 12 Last Quarters.  The Moon Stones symbolize the Terrestrial Kingdom (see D&C 76:71-80).

Two Sun Stones
The Sun Stones (50 total) represent the Celestial Kingdom.  Revelation gives us greater insight into this kingdom.  It is written, "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; 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.  He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase. (D&C 131:1-4)"

A Star Stone
 The Star Stones (I am not sure how many there are; if one knows, please enlighten me).  The Star Stones represent the Telestial Kingdom of God, of which revelation states, 

And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of th+e glory of the moon in the firmament.  These are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus.  These are they who deny not the Holy Spirit.  These are they who are thrust down to hell.  These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work. (D&C 76:81-85)
The Hand Clasp
 The Hand Clasp is probably the most symbolically rich carving seen on the exterior walls of the House of the Lord.  Paul says in Galatians 2:9, "And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship . . ."  Jeremiah writes, "the covenant . . . I made with their fathers in . . . that I took them by the hand . . . (Jeremiah 31:32)"  The scroll above the Hand Clasp says,"I am Alpha and Omega", which is a Title held by Jesus the Christ.

The All-Seeing Eye
The All-Seeing Eye symbolizes the infinite knowledge of God, as spoken of by Nephi's brother Jacob, when he says that the people are being examined "under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God. (Jacob 2:10)"  He later states, "O that he [God] would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust! (Jacob 2:15)"

The Big Dipper
The symbolism of Ursa Major is spoken of by President Gordon B. Hinckley.  At the April 2002 General Conference, he said, "Like the polar star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives."  Truman O. Angell, Sr., the Church Architect and designer of the symbols, spoke of Ursa Major as the lost finding themselves through the Priesthood (Deseret News, 17 Aug. 1854).

The Cloud Stones
The Cloud Stones represent the Presence of God and His divine protection.  "And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. (1 Kings 8:10-11)"

I love the Salt Lake Temple.  Whenever I am down in Salt Lake City, I love to go to the Temple grounds and admire the stonework.  I know that the ordinances in the House of the Lord are necessary to live with God again.  If we do not obtain them, we cannot live with Him again.  I say this in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ, amen!