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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gallup Poll reveals President Monson as tenth-most "Most Admired" man in America


A poll conducted by Gallup from 15-18 December of this year states President Thomas S. Monson is admired by 1% of America.  According to Gallup managing editor Jeffrey Jones, "It is common for the president of the Mormon Church to receive mentions, but (President) Monson is the first to make the top 10".

Congratulations to President Thomas S. Monson!  The Mormon Eagle is ecstatic that President Monson won the number 10 spot - it means The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being noticed.  But, why is the Church and President Monson being noticed so much?  Let us examine this conundrum.  Here is what the Eagle thinks.

1. The Holy Ghost
The main reason President Monson is admired so much is because of the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  Elder Parley P. Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve taught,

[His influence] quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being (Key to the Science of Theology, 9th ed. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1965], p. 101).

The Holy Spirit, more than anything else, gives wisdom beyond the normal understanding.  The Pharisees said of Jesus, "Never man spake like this man" (John 7:46)When Christ was twelve years old, he ministered with the Doctors and Lawyers in the House of God, and "all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers" (Luke 2:47).


2. Keep the Laws and Doctrines of God
The Laws of the Lord given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, as well as all the Prophet's teachings on doctrine, are kept only by the Latter-day Saints.  These laws, ordinances, and teachings set us apart from the world and make us holy.  The Lord hath said, "Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy" (Lev. 19:2).  Our Prophet has taught us,

Ours is the task to be fitting examples. We are strengthened by the truth that the greatest force in the world today is the power of God as it works through man. If we are on the Lord’s errand, brethren, we are entitled to the Lord’s help. Never forget that truth. That divine help, of course, is predicated upon our worthiness. Each must ask: Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure? Am I a worthy servant of the Lord (President Thomas S. Monson, "Examples of Righteousness", April 2008 General Conference, Priesthood Session)?


President Monson is indeed holy because he is led by the Holy Ghost which is in him.  He stands out on the list of the 10 Most Admired Americans because he is the only person on that list with the Gift of the Holy Ghost, as well as the only man on that list Authorized by God to speak for and with Him.  I know this is true and that President Monson is a Prophet of God.  I also know that if we keep the commandments and live so as to be led by the Holy Ghost, the world will come after us Latter-day Saints.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him"

Hymn #202 in the LDS Hymnal contains the words, "Come, and behold Him born the King of angels; Oh, Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!"  My favorite time of the year is Christmas.  I seem to fight more with the ones I love, unfortunately, but when it all comes down to it, I am humbled when I listen to the Sacred strains praising the Son of God and His matchless life. 

During this time of year - and especially on this Christmas Day - I stand in wonder and awe at Jesus the Christ.  Am I worthy to actually come and adore the Risen Lord, let alone a Baby Boy in a Manger?  Do I hear what the "night wind to the little lamb" says, when it saith "do you see what I see?"  Do we really see the Star whom we worship in our own lives?  Is the Star's light shining from our countenances, as Alma saith, "And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God?  Have ye received his image in your countenances?  Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?" (Alma 5:14).  More straight to the point is the Word of God Himself.  Saith He, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).

Today is Christmas, and should be about Christ.  We should give glory this day to the Newborn King, and adore Him, making Him the center of our thoughts, that our actions might bring others closer to Him and His Restored Church.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"For the Strength of Youth" booklet update

The new cover for the updated manual
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' booklet "For the Strength of Youth" has been updated with additional counsel.  The new updates will be mailed to English-speaking Wards in mid-January.

The updated counsel includes the wise use of technology, maintaining virtuous thoughts, advice on dating, importance of gender roles, and preparation for the future.  In addition to this, the manual speaks on heeding the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, keeping of covenants, and being worthy to enter the House of the Lord.  There is a new standard titled, "Work and Self-Reliance".  The section on health has been given a new title, "Physical and Emotional Health", with an addition touching on the emotional health of the individual.  There is an increased emphasis on doctrine in each section, and also the addition of questions to invite pondering and discussion.

The new manual can be seen on you.lds.org. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

LDS Church History no. 7 - The Salt Lake Tabernacle Organ

Salt Lake Tabernacle Organ
The Salt Lake Tabernacle Organ is, according to MormonTabernacleChoir.org, an 11,623-pipe organ.  It is one of the largest in the world.  The Organ was constructed by Joseph Ridges, with (originally) 700 pipes.  The Organ has since been expanded (1915) to it's current width, and enlarged (1948) to to current pipe number.  The work of enlargement having been completed by the Æolian-Skinner Organ Co. of Boston, Massachusetts.

pre-1915 expansion
For the expansion of the Tabernacle Organ in 1915, Goodwin's Weekly wrote that "the newer, greater organ . . . would so far eclipse the old as to leave its sweetness, its majesty and its power, only as a memory.  That work is nearly finished now, and the world will again marvel at what these men of the west have accomplished" (Guy La Coste, “The Great Organ,” Goodwin’s Weekly, April 8, 1916, p. 4).

It must be noted herein the inspiration the original builders' received: the Boston Music Hall Organ, seen below.
The Boston Music Hall Organ was the first concert pipe organ installed in the United States of America.  The organ now stands in the Methuen Memorial Music Hall outside Boston.  


The Salt Lake Tabernacle Organ is a beautiful instrument.  The Mormon people have always espoused the arts as pre-eminent with them, and the example of the Tabernacle Organ is a first-rate example.  I know sacred music is important, fulfilling the scripture in which Jehovah saith, "For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads" (D&C 25:12).  May it ever be so.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

LDS Church History no. 6 - The Assembly Hall

Decorated for Christmas
The Assembly Hall on Temple Square is a Gothic-style house of worship on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  It was constructed from 1877-1882, using granite mostly discarded from the construction of the Salt Lake Temple.  When the Provo Tabernacle was being planned, Church leaders asked William H. Folsom, the architect for the Tabernacle, to pattern his design after the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.  As a result, the plans of the two buildings were similar.  The architect for the Assembly Hall was Obed Taylor, a son of President John Taylor, third President of the Church.

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Assembly Hall pipe organ
The building that stood on the Assembly Hall's footprint was the Old Tabernacle, an adobe tabernacle.  The "Old Tabernacle", as it was called, could only accommodate roughly 1,500 people, so the Salt Lake Tabernacle was constructed, which now seats 8,000.  In 1877, when President Brigham Young ordered the construction of the Assembly Hall to replace the Old Tabernacle, he told the people to "pull down the Old Tabernacle, and build a new one to accommodate about 3,000 people" (Journal History, 12 Sept. 1877).

During the 1980s, the Assembly Hall was extensively renovated.  It was rededicated on 3 April 1983.  Present at the rededication were President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency, President Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Mark E. Petersen, also of the Quorum of the Twelve.  During his dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley stated, "We pray that Thy Holy Spirit may abide here, that all who enter may recognize it as a sacred place.  May it again serve as a house of worship, where faith will be taught and strengthened, where Thy word will be declared with persuasive conviction, and where Thy name and the name of Thy Son will be honored and glorified, and testimony borne of Thee and of Thy Beloved Son, our Redeemer" ("Assembly Hall is Rededicated", Ensign, May 1983, p. 87).  

My we, at this Christmas season, rededicate our lives to Christ our Savior, may all who enter upon the threshold of our lives may recognize our lives as sacred, and may we declare God's word with persuasive conviction, under the direction of the Holy Ghost.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas With the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

For the last 10 years, "Christmas With the Mormon Tabernacle Choir" has graced the airwaves of PBS broadcasts.  Each concert, which takes place at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, has contained a different celebrity.  The Choir's most popular Christmas concert was in December 2010, which featured David Archuleta.

The Conference Center decorated for the 2011 concert
What I love most about the Choir's Christmas concert, is that every year the decorations are different.  Each year finds a new way to layout and display the trees, garlands, snow, etc., so that the display is unique.

I love the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and know that their music is the most sacred of any.  I know sacred music brings the Spirit of the Lord.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Salt Lake City voted top religious tourist destination

The National Tour Association conducted a survey in their monthly publication, Courier; the results show Salt Lake City, Utah as the top North American religious-based tourist attraction, which is also tied with Israel as the most attractive spot for faith-based travel, according to today's Deseret News.  The announcement will be published in the January edition of Courier.


This is fitting for the great City of Salt Lake, but especially for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Prophet Joseph Smith prophesied, "I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains" (History of the Church 5:85).  Indeed have the Saints of God become a mighty people in the Valleys of Zion.

The aforementioned survey to be published in the Courier of January next helps also to fulfill a prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.  And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:2-3).  The Mormon Eagle declares that only The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have power given them by God to fulfill this prophecy.  Only that Church is Authorized by God to act in His name, and all others are pretenders.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bible Video App for iPhone and iPad now available


From newsroom.lds.org, we read the following in full:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) has released a new interactive app, which includes videos from the Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos website that launched last week.

This free app for iPads, which appeared in the iTunes app store Thursday, 8 December allows users to experience Bible stories through sight, sound and touch.  Users can explore biblical environments, watch scripture-based videos and photo slideshows and discover interesting facts about biblical accounts.  The website and app are based on accounts of Christ's life from the King James Version of the Bible.

As new videos are added to BibleVideos.lds.org each month, and as new features become available, the App Store will automatically notify users that an update is available.

Plans to expand to other tablet platforms and languages, including Spanish and Portuguese, are in the works.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

An Aware God


Christmas can be a stressful time of year.  Shopping for presents, setting up the decorations, buying those ever-so-cherished ugly sweaters, making the hot cocoa, and shoveling the snow can almost make one forget how aware the Father and the Son actually are of all that we think, do, and say.

President Joseph Smith taught that "the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring" (History of the Church 4:595).  Additionally the Prophet taught, "God sees the secret springs of human action, and knows the hearts of all living" (History of the Church 1:317).  So, as the offspring of Deity, one's actions, thoughts, and words are known of the Great Jehovah.  If we wish to know our standing before God, we need only ask Him in humble prayer, and He will answer.  To the downtrodden soul who thinks their efforts in preaching the Gospel of the Redeemer go unheeded by others, we have the words of the Lord to Nephi III in the Book of Mormon: "as [Nephi] was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people.  And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments" (Helaman 10:3-4).  As the scriptures teach us to liken them unto our own lives, this is sufficient to show God is aware of our efforts (even unheeded by others) to preach His Word.

The Lord Christ has borne these fears upon His shoulders before us.  All He asks is for us to put our fears, doubts, and troubled upon His back.  Saith He, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).

The world's current Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, testified on 4 December 2011, 

As we face the temptations of our times, the confusion of choice, the embarrassment of error, the pursuit of perfection, our Heavenly Father is there to listen, to love, to inspire.  Our Father to whom we earnestly pray is not an ethereal substance or a mysterious and incomprehensible being.  Rather, He has eyes with which to view our actions, lips with which to speak to us, ears to hear our plea and a heart to understand our love" (Teachings of Thomas S. Monson, p. 260).

I know God is acutely aware of all our actions, and stands with outstretched arms to receive us and help us if we will but ask.  We Latter-day Saints are a lot better than we think we are.  We can always do better, it is true, but we must not beat ourselves up because of our lack of perfection, for only One is called Perfect.  He will help us when we ask, and is ever aware of our righteous actions, thoughts, and desires.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert #1 PBS program during Christmas seasons

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the 2010 Christmas Concert
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is one of the most renowned choirs in the world.  It ranks with the Vienna Boys Choir as world-class.  The love of millions of God-fearing people throughout the United States is apparent.  President and CEO of PBS Paula Kerger said, "The Christmas concert presented by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is the No. 1-rated entertainment program on PBS during the holidays, with more than 4 million Americans tuning in to watch it each year" ("Concert growing in national popularity, Deseret News, Friday 9 December 2011, C8).

God be praised for the inspiration of President Brigham Young.  It was he who requested John Parry to organize a Choir out of a group of Parry's Welsh converts.  This he did, and the rest is history.

I love the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I know music is powerful.  Elder Russell M. Nelson taught, "Dear brothers and sisters, please fill your minds with worthy sights and sounds. Cultivate your precious gift of the Holy Ghost. . . . As you control your thoughts, you control your actions. Indeed, worthy music can provide power and protection for your soul" ("Power and Protection Provided by Worthy Music", BYU Devotional Address, 4 May 2008).  The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is the greatest source of worthy music this world has ever seen.  I know music is powerful, and it helps control our thoughts.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Getting it right

The Mormon Eagle's motto states, "It is better to represent ourselves than to be represented by others".  Media outlets of all kinds have had their fill of Mormon stories this year, what with the high-profile candidacies of Governor Mitt Romney and Ambassador Jon Huntsman, Jun. for President of the United States.  But, alas, some still intend to feel it is right for others to represent the Latter-day Saints than for the Saints to represent themselves.

At a conference held in Washington, D.C, on Thursday, Michael Otterson, managing director for LDS Church public affairs, said, "Define us by who we are and by our central beliefs rather than who we are not or by obscure or irrelevant beliefs" ("Journalists urged to let Mormons define selves", Deseret News, Friday 9 December 2011, A1)."  He said that getting it right will be difficult, especially when covering the religions of the world.  However, he said "it is possible to get it right if we acknowledge two things: the importance of going to the source, and the pitfalls of stereotyping" (Ibid., A10).

If one wants information about who Joseph Smith really is, he should go to the Book of Mormon; if one wants to know about the inner-workings of the House of the Lord, let him go to many of the Temple Visitor Centers scattered throughout America; if one wants to know our policy on education, look no further than www.byu.edu.  And so it is with a myriad of other topics.

If one wants to know in Whom Mormons believe, the importance of making the Source of Righteousness the defining standard in our lives cannot be overemphasized.  If He is our example in all things, then our non-Mormon friends will come to the active Latter-day Saints for information concerning The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Better than mankind drink from the Fountain of Life than to drink from the sordid, misinformed, and often bigoted stereotypes of the world.

Monday, December 5, 2011

BibleVideos.lds.org


The following is found in "Church leaders offer gift of Bible videos", Deseret News, Monday 5 December 2011, p. A11.  Written by Sarah Jane Weaver:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hopes everyone will want to follow the footsteps of the Savior through the stony paths of Galilee or the narrow streets of Jerusalem.

To make this possible, church leaders have created free Bible videos that are being made available to the public this holiday season on a new web site: Biblevideos.lds.org.

"They will be a free gift to all from the First Presidency," said President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency.

President Eyring announced the project on Sunday during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional.

The high-quality videos are based on the King James Version of the Bible and are faithful to the text, President Eyring explained.

The text of the scriptures and photos also accompany the video scenes.

The church produced the videos and has made them available to the public "solely for the purpose of ehlping more people understand and appreciate the matchless life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world," according to the website.

The church filmed 47 scenes this fall at its new Jerusalem movie set in Goshen, Utah County, and has plans to film more than 50 additional scenes next year.

"A free mobile app, which offers an interactive way to watch and read key accounts from the New Testament will also be available before Christmas."

The true meaning of CHRISTmas

painting of the Nativity by Carl Heinrich Bloch
The First Presidency Christmas Devotional occurred last night at 6pm in the Conference Center.  Among other things, President Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, "I, with you, have witnessed during the past few days and weeks what has become over the years the annual commercialization of Christmas.  I am saddened to see Christmas becoming less and less about Christ and more and more about marketing and sales, parties and presents.  And yet, Christmas is what we make of it" ("Make Christmas about Christ, LDS leader urges", Deseret News, Monday 5 December 2011, A1, A11).

What CHRISTmas is about
Holy Writ saith, "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon [the shepherds], and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:9-11).  The physician of old here tells the world that Christmas is neither about Santa, Reindeer, Elves, nor shopping.  Christmas is about the Heavenly Gift given by God to the world in the Person of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ, the promised Messiah.  

In another place, we read, 

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east. . . . lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh (Matt. 2:1, 9-11).

The Apostle Matthew here tells the story of the Magi who came to Jesus from the east.  Of the Magi, Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated that "it would appear they were true prophets, righteous persons like Simeon, Anna, and the shepherds, to whom Deity revealed that the promised Messiah had been born among men" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary 1:103).  It can most assuredly be assumed that these Wise Men, as they are now called, were either actual kings or of very high birth because of the costliness of the gifts they present the Child Jesus.  These gifts presented to the Babe were symbolic in nature: 1) Gold - referring to the price Jesus Christ would pay for all mankind's sins, and also an acknowledgement of His Kingship which carried the riches of eternity.  2) Frankincense - this aromatic resin, used to make perfume, has an odor which represents life; this is fitting, as Jesus announced Himself to be "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6).  3) Myrrh - symbolic of Christ's death, in that Myrrh was anciently used as an embalming agent on the body of the deceased.

"Light do a darkened world"
President Eyring stated, "The appearance of the long-promised Messiah brought light to a darkened world. . . . [God] gave us the gift of a Savior, His prefect Son, the Lamb without blemish" ("Make Christmas about Christ, LDS leader urges", Deseret News, A11).  Lastly, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf urged, "We, like the Wise Men of old, should seek the Christ and lay before Him the most precious of gifts: a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (Ibid.).

I know, as they say, Jesus is the reason for the Season.  Christ should be the light we hold to the world at this Christmas time.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Welfare Square: A nationwide model of economic self-reliance

Welfare Square grain elevator stands 178-feet tall in Salt Lake City, Utah
On Thursday 1 December 2011 the LDS Church's Welfare Square was toured by The Philanthropy Round Table as the last stop on a national tour highlighting the best practices in economic self-reliance.  The Round Table also toured the LDS Humanitarian Center and the Bishop's Central Storehouse.  Shannon Toronto, CEO of the Round Table, said, "We learned from our meeting today that the best programs recognize the dignity of the individual and that the highest quality of life is attained when a person becomes self reliant and can help others within her realm of influence" (Elizabeth Stuart, "Philanthropists eye LDS model of self-reliance", Deseret News, Friday 2 December 2011, B5).

This model of self reliance known as Welfare Square was founded during the Great Depression.  During this time, men would put in a whole day's work in exchange for food from the Bishop's Storehouse.  Today people "pay" for their food by completing tasks such as folding clothes at Deseret Industries thrift stores or canning food at local Bishop's Storehouses.  All this is in keeping with a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith which reads, "The storehouse shall be kept by the consecrations of the church; and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor.  Amen" (D&C 83:6).  Also the words came to the Prophet thusly, "And again, let the bishop appoint a storehouse unto this church; and let all things both in money and in meat, which are more than is needful for the wants of this people, be kept in the hands of the bishop" (D&C 51:13).

Presiding Bishop H. David Burton, center; First Counselor Richard C. Edgley, left; Second Counselor Keith B. McMullin, right
The Presiding Bishopric has jurisdiction over the workings of Welfare Square and all the Bishops Storehouses, for "the office of a bishop is in administering all temporal things" (D&C 107:68).

The reason the world looks with awe and wonder upon The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is because it is run by continual revelation.  Although the world may not know this fact (and sometimes even deny it), it is nevertheless true.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.