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Monday, July 25, 2011

The Magnet of Mormonism

President Boyd K. Packer has stated, "Some suppose that our high standards will repel growth.  It is just the opposite.  High standards are a magnet" ("A Defense and a Refuge", Ensign, November 2006, p. 85-88).  It is amazing, this power that Mormonism has.

I have recently started working at Maverick, a gas station a little ways away from my apartment.  All those I have worked with so far know I am a Mormon, and seem to respect me for it.  The reason why, however, humbles me: it is because of the high standards of the Latter-day Saints. 

True Mormons are those clean-shaven, white-shirted missionaries seen on the streets of the great cities and tiny hamlets of the world.  True Mormons are those who do not partake of coffee, tea, or any alcohol whatsoever.  True Mormons, above all, revier and reverence the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Redeemer of the world.  This is the magnet known as Mormonism.  Some how, these standards attract people; it is becaues of the Holy Ghost - that light that is only found within staunch members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Still, the question remains, what, according to the Lord, attracts people to Mormonism?  President Boyd K. Packer states, "The standard, established by revelation, is contained in the scriptures through the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The principles of the gospel life we follow are based on doctrine, and the standards accord with the principles.  We are bound to the standards by covenant, as administered through the ordinances of the gospel by those who have received priesthood and the keys of authority" (Ibid.).  The Lord has stated, "And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the Gospel" (D&C 42:12).  Mormon taught, "And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God" (Alma 31:5).  It is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as found in the Scriptures - both ancient and modern - that attracts people to Mormonism, whether they know it or not. 

Let us, then, as Latter-day Saints, give heed to the words of the Apostle Paul, who said, "be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).  The Lord will be pleased if we do this, by simply preaching His Gospel by the way we live.  I know this is so.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Self Reliance and Industriousness

Of all that President Brigham Young in known for, self-reliance and industriousness is probably his legacy.  We will discuss self-reliance and industriousness using Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution (or ZCMI) as the prime example.

Founded in 1868, Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution was put in place by President Brigham Young so the Latter-day Saints would no longer have to worry about buying from Gentiles (non-Mormons), who would price-gouge when the Mormons wished to purchase from them.  He taught, "Ye Latter-day Saints, learn to sustain yourselves.  If you cannot obtain all you wish for today, learn to do without that which you cannot purchase and pay for; and bring your minds into subjection that you must and will live within your means" (Discourses of President Brigham Young, 293).  For this reason was ZCMI established - that the Latter-day Saints might sustain themselves.  What better way for the Latter-day Saints to be able to sustain themselves, then to be able to find the same products - whether corn, wheat, boots, tools, etc.- in Salt Lake City as in Ephraim, or in Provo as in Logan?

As seen in the picture above, all ZCMI store-fronts had "Holiness to the Lord" inscribed thereon.  But why "Holiness to the Lord"?  Because, according to President Young, "Is not the upbuilding of the Kingdom of God on earth a temporal labor all the time?" (DBY, 290–91).  Indeed it is, because the upbuilding of the Latter-day Saints consists of hard industriousness, the which, if pressed upon, leads to the Spirit of the Lord in our lives, because physical labor is a command of Him who is Holiness, even the Lord and Savior.  Said He to Adam and Eve immediately before their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground" (Gen. 3:19).  Indeed work, or self-reliance and industriousness, is a command of God.

Lastly, President Brigham Young taught, "Idleness and wastefulness are not according to the rules of heaven.  Preserve all you can, that you may have abundance to bless your friends and your enemies" (DBY, 290).  Let us not be idle, but the rather act in all holiness to the Lord by working to support ourselves and our loved ones, both in temporal as well as spiritual labors.  Let us be better people, and work all the days of our lives, that idleness and slothfulness be not found in us.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

LDS Church Statement on Temple in France

From newsroom.lds.org, published on Friday, 15 July 2011 in Salt Lake City, Utah:

"President Thomas S. Monson said today that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hopes to build its first temple in France on property on the outskirts of Paris.


"Customarily, new temples are announced by the president of the Church at one of the Church's general conferences, after local government building approvals and property acquisition have been secured.  Although the local government approval process for the French temple is still under way, French newspapers were already reporting Church plans to build at Le Chesnay, near Versailles, and this prompted today's announcement.

"Church spokesman Scott Trotter said that the Church has been working for many months with local officials.  More details will be given later.

"There have been several previous attempts to find a suitable site for a French temple, but none were finalized.  French members of the Church wishing to visit a temple usually travel to those in neighboring European countries [such as Spain, Germany, or the Netherlands]."

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Early Warning System Called the Spirit of the Lord

There is a Spirit of the Lord, the which if heeded, will guide us aright in our daily lives.  However, it can warn us of danger, whether spiritual, economic, or temporal.  I will here cite two examples, one from my own life, and another from Elder M. Russell Ballard.  I now quote from my own journal on the date of 11 July 2011, Monday.

"I should have realized sooner that Satan was after me.  Yesterday [Sunday 10 July], as I was sitting on the stand before Church [in preparation for speaking in Sacrament Meeting], I heard the Spirit whisper to me, 'Satan will try and get you.  Be careful.'  I lost the Spirit today.  I remember, as I was reading the Scriptures today, even though the Spirit was present, feeling foreboding afterward and a desire to rush through them.  Once I returned from applying for jobs, the darkness returned, but I failed to discern."

We must ever be vigilant and humble that the Spirit can speak to us and we obey.  We must, as Elder Ballard says, "learn to think straight", or to give heed to the Spirit of the Lord.  Next, I quote an experience from Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve:

"How do we learn to think straight?  The book of Proverbs has a little guide that might be helpful. It is found in the nineteenth chapter, twentieth verse: 'Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise.'  I would suggest that straight thinking probably begins with straight listening, with careful listening, with accurate listening. . . .

"I signed an Edsel franchise with Ford Motor Company.  Some of you may not know what the Edsel was.  The older brethren know that it was one of the most disastrous national marketing mistakes ever made in the United States.  Ford Motor Company spent over two hundred million dollars producing an automobile that would carry the name of Edsel Ford, the father of Henry Ford II, who was then the president of Ford Motor Company.  The sales promotion, anticipation, and the excitement were unbelievable.  You can appreciate what it was like, being a relatively young businessman and having all the power of the Ford Motor Company brought to bear on me to encourage me to become the Edsel dealer for Salt Lake City.  I wrestled with the decision.  I said to my father, who was a great man in my life, 'Before I sign the franchise, I want to see the car.'

"They made special arrangements for us to fly to California to see the car.  Now, as I wrestled with this, I was also asking the Lord about it, asking for direction.  It was a big decision; it involved a lot of money, a lot of commitment on my part.  The minute my father and I saw the cars I had the distinct impression not to go ahead with the franchise.  When I got away from the new car showing, the sales power of Ford Motor Company started to work on me again--they assured me the car was going to be the greatest thing that ever came into the automobile industry.  And I allowed myself to drift from the promptings of the Spirit that I had earlier.  I had followed the counsel of the ninth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, but I wavered from the impression the Lord had given me.  I made the decision to sign the franchise, then went through the torments of the damned, almost.  If we had more time, I could tell you that it is not fun to lose a lot of money fast.  Regardless of what I did, it didn't matter; I couldn't stop the losses.  Ultimately I had to sell the franchise at a great loss" ("Let Us Think Straight", BYU Devotional Address, 29 November 1983).

Now, both Elder Ballard and myself know when the Spirit of the Lord speaks to us.  I would hope that all who read The Mormon Eagle are humble and allow the Spirit to speak, and to give heed when it does.  I know the dangers the Spirit of the Lord can illuminate to us, and if we give heed to the Spirit's early warnings, we will be led aright.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pioneer Day Concert and Broadcast by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Set for 22 July 2011

From lds.org:

"The Church's Pioneer Day Commemoration Concert, held on July 22, will be broadcast via the Church satellite system, the Internet, and other media on July 23, 2011. Ticket registration for those wishing to attend the concert on July 22 in the Conference Center will begin on June 11 at 12:01 a.m.

"While paying tribute to those pioneers who left their homes and families to settle the West, this year’s celebration will focus on men and women who have served in the military.

"The Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will perform its signature “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and other patriotic, inspirational, and folk favorites.

"In addition to the musical tributes, a series of short video vignettes will tell the stories of commitment, loyalty, and heroism that so distinguish those who have served or are currently on duty in the armed forces.

"Video will be broadcast on broadcast.lds.org on July 23, 2011, at 7 p.m. MDT, in American Sign Language, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. English audio will also be available at mormonchannel.org. Television and radio broadcasts will be available in some parts of the world. Check local listings or visit byubroadcasting.org or ksl.com.

"Local priesthood leaders will receive a schedule of available rebroadcast times, which will also be published on broadcastinfo.lds.org.

"Registration for free tickets will open on the Internet at lds.org/events on Saturday, June 11, 2011, at 12:01 a.m. and close on Monday, June 20, at 11:59 p.m. Those without Internet access may register over the phone at (801) 570-0080 (local) or at 1-866-537-8457 (toll free)."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 45 - Overcoming the World

This article is actually the text of my talk given in the Bonneville 12th Ward of the Bonneville Utah Stake on Sunday, 10 July 2011.

Overcome the World
To overcome the world is to surpass all trials, temptations, and tribulations sufficient to sit in the Celestial Kingdom, there to reign as an heir of Godhood.  In short, it is to abide in God’s covenant.  “I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy.  For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me. (D&C 98:14-15).  President Joseph Smith taught, “God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God' (Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, 21 Aug. 1883, p.1).


Examples in Scripture
There are many examples for us to look to in the pages of Holy Writ.  The surest is none other than Christ Himself.  The Apostle Peter said of Him, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (1 Peter 2:21-22).   “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.  And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.  And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and he sweat as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:41-43, JST Luke 2:44).  President Joseph Smith said something which could be connected to the Savior’s agony during His Atonement: “All difficulties which might and would cross our way must be surmounted. Though the soul be tried, the heart faint, and the hands hang down, we must not retrace our steps; there must be decision of character" (History of the Church 4:570).

Abraham is at the peak of this topic (no pun intended) when he, climbing a mountain, placed Isaac on an altar and gave his all, literally, to be found within God’s covenant; but not only within God’s covenant, but at the beginning thereof, even to having the apex of God’s promises named after him, which are now experienced in full only in the House of the Lord.  Abraham’s offering of his all - his one promised son - is so important to the rest of humanity that God promises each of us His all, as He did Abraham, if we give our all.

Examples in Church History
I will now quote a talk by President Gordon B. Hinckley, given at the October 1981 Semi-Annual General Conference:

“I should like to tell you of three eighteen-year-old boys.  In 1856 more than a thousand of our people, some of them perhaps your forebears, found themselves in serious trouble while crossing the plains to this valley.  Because of a series of unfortunate circumstances, they were late in getting started. They ran into snow and bitter cold in the highlands of Wyoming.  Their situation was desperate, with deaths occurring every day."

"President Young learned of their condition as the October general conference was about to begin.  He immediately called for teams, wagons, drivers, and supplies to leave to rescue the bereft Saints.  When the first rescue team reached the Martin Company, there were too few wagons to carry the suffering people.  The rescuers had to insist that the carts keep moving.

"When they reached the Sweetwater River on November 3, chunks of ice were floating in the freezing water.  After all these people had been through, and in their weakened condition, that river seemed impossible to cross.  It looked like stepping into death itself to move into the freezing stream.  Men who once had been strong sat on the frozen ground and wept, as did the women and children.  Many simply could not face that ordeal.

"And now I quote from the record: 'Three eighteen-year-old boys belonging to the relief party came to the rescue, and to the astonishment of all who saw, carried nearly every member of the ill-fated handcart company across the snowbound stream.  The strain was so terrible, and the exposure so great, that in later years all the boys died from the effects of it.  When President Brigham Young heard of this heroic act, he wept like a child, and later declared publicly, ‘that act alone will ensure C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant, and David P. Kimball an everlasting salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, worlds without end.’'" (Solomon F. Kimball, Improvement Era, Feb. 1914, p. 288.) (“Four B’s for Boys”, Ensign, November 1981).

I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth.  I know that we all can overcome the world if we look to the prophets, both ancient and modern, and to our heritage.  I know Jesus is the Christ, and that He is our greatest example in this effort. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Reality Check

Throughout this world, there are certain absolutes that in no way can be changed, no matter what one thinks.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declares these absolutes to the world.

1.  God Exists
There is a God in the Heavens who loves all His children.  He is the great Elohim, He who created this earth and all things thereon.  He is the great Father of the human family, and decrees His doctrine through Prophets in every dispensation, including this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times.

2.  Jesus Christ is the Savior
Jesus Christ is God's Son, and the only name whereby anyone can receive salvation and exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom.  His life is an example to all the world how one should conduct his life, what one must do to inherit eternal life, and how one should react in all situations.  Ineed, He said in the Intercessory Prayer, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).  Although skeptics say that both He (Jesus Christ) and His Father (God) do not exists, yet it is so.  They exist in spite of the gainsayers.

3.  Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God
When the Angel Moroni came to the Prophet Joseph Smith, he told him that Joseph's name would be had for both good and evil.  Truly this prophecy has come to pass.  Joseph Smith has indeed "has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it" (D&C 135:3).  President Joseph Smith brought forth the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, which contains the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and with the Bible convinces one of Jesus Christ's reality clearer than anything else.  Joseph Smith also was the instrument on whom the Keys of the Priesthood were conferred by John the Baptist, Peter, James and John, Moses, Elias, Elijah, and Gabriel.  These Keys are only held by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in no other religion.

4.  The Book of Mormon is True
The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is as true as the noon-day sun.  It shines resplendent to all the world, that they might know that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.  It is the only book to which the Lord has personally given His own testimony.  Thus saith He, "And he [Joseph Smith] has translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true" (D&C 17:6).  Scientific fact is not needed to prove it's veracity, for the Holy Spirit beareth record.  Those who say it is not true, whether having read the Book of Mormon or not, do not and cannot have the Spirit of the Lord in its fulness, for the Church connected therewith is the only Church which has the Authority to give the gift of the Holy Ghost.

These four criterion must be believed in order to find salvation peace in this life, salvation in the next life, and exaltation with God the Father and Jesus Christ.  This I know to be true.  I add my testimony with God as my witness, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.