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Talk: The Lord’s Sheep, Bread of Life, and Living Water

The following is a post created from a talk I gave in church this morning.

There is an idea in thermodynamics that everything in the universe eventually moves from order to disorder. The Book of Mormon is a window into how this happens in the lives of individuals and civilizations. Around 385 A.D., the bodies of tens of thousands of men, women, and children, lay strewn across the land as an entire nation went extinct save for a few.

Mormon, on of the last surviving leaders beheld this scene and cried out in anguish: “O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss. O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen! But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return. (Mormon 6:17-20)

They had fallen, and they did so together, as one.  Read Full Post

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Thank You

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Read Jane Birch’s Phenomenal Word of Wisdom Series at Meridian Magazine

I have heaps of respect for Jane Birch and all of the research she has done on the Word of Wisdom. Having corresponded with her by email on several occasions and reading her essays, I’ve been more and more impressed with what she continues to produce on the subject. Her “Doctrines, Principles, and Applications” series that can be found at Meridian Magazine (ldsmag.com) represents some of the best work that I have ever read on the Word of Wisdom.

Building on the foundation of Elder Bednar’s teachings concerning doctrines, principles, and applications, Jane takes us on an engaging exploration of the Word of Wisdom that speaks reason to the mind and wisdom to the heart. This revelation is needed now more than ever and Jane’s work does more than bridge the past with the present, it emphasizes those keys that unlock treasures, even hidden treasures.

Rather than take a dogmatic application-based approach that preaches to us what we should or shouldn’t do, Jane leans on the doctrine and principles as her guide while respecting individual applications that may vary from case to case. Her sober persuasion invites thought and self-examination without resorting to ineffective guilt and shaming.

While I respect the light she brings to the topic of the Word of Wisdom, I think Jane’s series has demonstrated a wonderful framework that can be applied to so many other topics in LDS theology. I offer the following links to her series for your consideration with my full endorsement:

  1. Distinguishing Between Doctrines, Principles, and Applications
  2. The Doctrine of the Word of Wisdom
  3. Rethinking Alcohol, Tobacco, Coffee, and Tea
  4. The Principle Behind Alcohol, Tobacco, Coffee, and Tea
  5. The Letter of the Law
  6. The Spirit of the Law
  7. Section 89 as Parable
  8. Why God Doesn’t Over-Explain
  9. Three Foods Ordained by God
  10. The Wholesome Herbs Ordained by God
  11. Animal Flesh is Ordained by God

If you liked those, you can find links to all of her published articles at Meridian Magazine here.

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Reorienting Our Perception of Home Teaching

I think we’ve all been there. You may have a good home/visiting teacher now, but I think we’ve all had no-shows and probably for most of our experience in the Church. Conversely, many of us have probably had experience being a no-show ourselves; maybe we’ve always pretty much failed at it. But what if changing things could be a simple as adjusting our perspective on home and visiting teaching? I’d like to share what’s been working for me and how I got there.

“We haven’t had home teachers for the last two years.”

“I’ve never had home teachers in this ward.”

“We had some good home teachers one time back when I was a teenager.”

Sound familiar? Our faces sour when we speak of home teaching in private company. It feels justifiable to throw our hands up and think that the church would be better off in dismantling the whole system altogether. I think this is completely wrong and I’ll explain why. Read Full Post

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The False Gods We (Still) Worship

I would like to address the subject of modern idolatry in the form of wars of aggression, near-eastern emperor-vassal covenants, and voting your conscience.

The following is an excerpt from Spencer W. Kimball’s classic talk The False Gods We Worship. The whole talks is a remarkable and prophetic read, it pulls no punches and clearly hits every point soberly. This excerpt focuses on how we deal with our mortal enemies and the idolatry involved in our current policies that have degraded even more since the days of 9/11.

We are a warlike people

In spite of our delight in defining ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had—in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people—a condition most repugnant to the Lord.

We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching: Read Full Post

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Power

The following are interesting excerpts from Webster’s 1828 dictionary for the word “power.”

1. In a philosophical sense, the faculty of doing or performing any thing; the faculty of moving or of producing a change in something;…Power in man is active or speculative. Active power is that which moves the body; speculative power is that by which we see, judge, remember, or in general, by which we think.

Power may exist without exertion. We have power to speak when we are silent.

Active power: the power of doing or moving

Passive power: receiving impressions or of suffering.

In strictness, passive power is an absurdity in terms. To say that gold has a power to be melted, is improper language, yet for want of a more appropriate word, power is often used in a passive sense, and is considered as two-fold; viz.as able to make or able to receive any change.

10. Influence; that which may move the mind; as the power of arguments or of persuasion.

16. Legal authority; warrant; as a power of attorney; an agent invested with ample power.

Power of attorney, authority given to a person to act for another.

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Sandwiches

After the fall, God says to Adam and Eve, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread…” Genesis 3:19

Jesus taught, “man shall not live by bread alone…” Luke 4:4

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Happy National Sandwich Day 2016

;)

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Join Me at the Family Roots Expo!

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I’m going to be presenting a class this Friday (October 26, 2016) called Journaling Principles That Work, at the Family Roots Expo in St. George, UT – here’s a link to the full schedule. I will be speaking on Friday in the Auditorium from 10:30am t0 11:15am MDT. The presentation should be very informative, insightful, and inspirational, whether you are a novice or a journaling pro.

I’ll be there with some other members of the JRNL.com team with our awesome booth so come say hi and be sure to mention it if you’re a oneClimbs reader ;-)

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Shia LaBeouf Speaks in General Conference

I was in the weird part of YouTube again and found this. I usually don’t post ridiculous things but this made me crack up. I know that the Shia LaBeouf “Do it” video is a little stale, but the General Conference remix with Mo-tab doing the wave is just too good to pass up.

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Willing to give up

Joseph Smith once said:

“I am at all times willing to give up that which is wrong for I wish this people to have a virtuous leader.”

This quote has always been a source of personal motivation for me, especially when I adapt it slightly to reflect what I value most:

“I am at all times willing to give up that which is wrong for I wish my Parents to have a virtuous son.”

“I am at all times willing to give up that which is wrong for I wish my wife to have a virtuous husband.”

“I am at all times willing to give up that which is wrong for I wish my daughters to have a virtuous father.”

This phrase “willing to give up that which is wrong” is kind of intriguing to me. At first I thought it seemed as if it was too focused on the negative. If we are pursuing truth continually then why worry about the wrong stuff? Read Full Post

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Two Brothers and “Never Needing the Lord”

I attended a nice baptism the other day. A woman was baptized by her husband who had grown up LDS but drifted away for many years and had just returned to full activity.

The next day she was confirmed during a fast Sunday and during the testimony meeting, the man’s older brother got up to share some words. He talked about how he felt a little envious of the contrast his brother was experiencing after being away for so long and returning to the gospel fresh once more. He admitted a little envy of his brother in that respect and said:

“I’ve never felt like I needed the Lord because I’ve always done what I have supposed to.”

His words were humble, sincere, and in many ways, tragic. I could hear in my mind the criticism: “Well, there you go, another Mormon focused so much on being ‘perfect’ that he doesn’t see his own sinful nature.” I could imagine that argument Read Full Post

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Hugh Nibley and the Miracle of Writing

The following is taken from Hugh Nibley’s Teachings of the Book of Mormon: Semester 1, pgs. 6-7. I’ve had this book for a long time and I went back to it to find this quote because it made a big impact on my thinking at the time and my motivations for journaling.

The book is the most remarkable invention ever made, as Galileo says. It is the miracle of miracles. “If anything is to be hailed as the greatest of all miracles, it would certainly be writing,” he said. In 26 simple symbols you can convey not only what happened and what people’s names were, but what they did (you can do that with TV), but their innermost thoughts and most sensitive feelings can be conveyed by these 22, 24, or 26 letters of an alphabet. Nothing else can do or ever has done that.

So writing comes to us as a special message and special emissary. That’s where you get this emphasis all the time in the Book of Mormon. They talk about the importance of the record, how it’s transmitted, how its handed down, the characters it’s written in, the trouble they have writing it (preserving the pages, etc.), because as they tell us,”this is the only way our knowledge can be preserved.” That’s why they had to go back and get the brass plates.

The only device that has defeated time and space–and it does that, as Galileo says. But it’s not a human invention of course. We are told it is a superhuman invention. That’s what put me onto this; I was referring to some other stuff. Writing is so minimal, so extremely simple. Any instrument that will make a scratch on any surface will record the most subtle message for any period of time over any amount of space. That’s astonishing what you can do. Of course, it has to be a rather permanent service and things like that, but it’s so simple. Are you have to do is scratch something on a surface, and you have done it.

To read it again you don’t need elaborate the electronic equipment or anything like that. But the price is this (this is where it comes, of course): How do you unravel it? You don’t need an elaborate electronic machine to feed it back into. You have to feed it back into yourself. You have to riddle (to read means to riddle; it’s the same word). You have to unriddle what is written there. That’s up to you; this is the thing. Reading is an act of faith. When you read, you riddle. You use your wits. That’s why to say you’ve read the book of Mormon doesn’t mean anything. It’s how much you have applied to it here. You have to extract the meaning, and you have to do almost all the work. There’s an immense lot of meaning in most of the verses in the Book of Mormon, an enormous lot.

These words awakened in me a sense of the miracle that writing truly is, particularly in its ability to transmit ideas from one mind to another. Speech possesses the same ability but it vanishes once the speaker is gone. Writing is far more sticky, after all, “The faintest ink is
 more powerful than the strongest memory” (Chinese proverb).

I thought of how reading an autobiography takes you into the mind of the writer, you can understand them, and get a peek into their mind through their words. It then became immediately clear why the scriptures were so important and so different than any other writing. Many of the words in scripture come directly from the mind of God, even if they arrive to us slightly corrupted by human language, transmission, and translation.

If we are sensitive, the words act as a catalyst for the Spirit which can iron out kinks and allow us to understand without obstruction; what a tremendous thing that scripture can do! Be careful to not be so distracted by the hands of men that you fail to discern the fingerprints of God.

For this reason, and in spite of my own weakness in self-expression, I write here on this blog and keep various journals chronicling my journey through life (large plates) and the words of the Lord delivered through his servants or to me personally (small plates). I refuse to leave this life without providing to my posterity a witness of my dealings with God and how I understood his role in my life. Mankind has been gifted a spectacular power and the love I have for my children compels me to use it.

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A Mystical Mind

George MacDonald wrote:

“A mystical mind is one which, having perceived that the highest expression of which the truth admits, lies in the symbolism of nature and the human customs that result from human necessities, prosecutes thought about truth so embodied by dealing with the symbols themselves after logical forms. This is the highest mode of conveying the deepest truth; and the Lord himself often employed it, as, for instance, in the whole passage ending with the words, “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness!” – George MacDonald (2012-05-17). Unspoken Sermons Series I., II., and II. (Kindle Locations 685-688).

Upon first blush, what does the word “mysticism” conjure up in your mind? Do you see some kind of aged figure dressed in robes casting spells of some kind? The truth is that you know more mystics than you realize and if you are reading this, you are probably one yourself. I’ll let a commenter named “Thomas” over at the website TempleStudy.com  explain: Read Full Post

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Video: Jesus Christ the Great High Priest

This is a cool video from the Messages of Christ YouTube channel where the garments of the high priest are explored in their connection to Jesus Christ. This guy made this whole thing from scratch which is pretty cool.

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Forgiveness

I really enjoyed this quote from George MacDonald about forgiveness:

“…unforgivingness to our neighbour; the shutting of him out from our mercies, from our love—so from the universe, as far as we are a portion of it—the murdering therefore of our neighbour. It may be an infinitely less evil to murder a man than to refuse to forgive him. The former may be the act of a moment of passion: the latter is the heart’s choice. It is spiritual murder, the worst, to hate, to brood over the feeling that excludes, that, in our microcosm, kills the image, the idea of the hated. We listen to the voice of our own hurt pride or hurt affection (only the latter without the suggestion of the former, thinketh no evil) to the injury of the evil-doer. In as far as we can, we quench the relations of life between us; we close up the passages of possible return. This is to shut out God, the Life, the One. For how are we to receive the forgiving presence while we shut out our brother from our portion of the universal forgiveness, the final restoration, thus refusing to let God be All in all? If God appeared to us, how could he say, “I forgive you,” while we remained unforgiving to our neighbour?” – MacDonald, George (2012-05-17). Unspoken Sermons Series I., II., and II. (Kindle Locations 569-576).

This reminds me of something a mentor of mine once said, “To deny forgiveness is to burn the bridge over which you too must pass.” I am confident that it was my offering unconditional forgiveness to one particular person who had hurt me that opened the world of God’s redemption and light into my life.

MacDonald insightfully points out that as we ourselves constitute a portion of this universe, by denying forgiveness in our little corner of it, we selfishly and impossibly attempt to place limitations on the infinite atonement. By doing so we make forgiveness for ourselves an impossibility, after all, Jesus himself said:

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:15 NIV)

When it comes to forgiveness, according to musician Matthew West, the prisoner that it really frees is you (song is available on Spotify and iTunes).

To truly forgive, one does not just cease their hatred, offense, or unkind feelings toward another, no, it must blossom into a true and genuine love toward the offender.

A passing-by of the offence might spring from a poor human kindness, but never from divine love. It would not be remission. Forgiveness can never be indifference. Forgiveness is love towards the unlovely. – MacDonald, George (2012-05-17). Unspoken Sermons Series I., II., and II. (Kindle Locations 534-536).

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What if everything became sacred?

After returning from my full-time missionary service, I started work with my father building decks down on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

I remember standing there one morning and thinking about how life was now entering a new phase and I wondered how I would adapt to it. I pondered for a moment how I could enjoy a spiritual flow throughout the day like I did living a missionary lifestyle but while doing this crude work with wood, nails, and sawdust.

I thought of Jesus who was a carpenter’s son just like I am. I thought about how he probably helped his father much like I did, and I marveled at how silent the scriptures were concerning these years. Couldn’t we have seen an example of how to live a normal life but after a manner of holiness?

I wondered if there was a reason why that was missing from the narrative of scripture. I wondered if maybe we were meant to fill in those gaps with the diversity of our own lives and experiences.

Then, I had a ridiculous idea. Read Full Post

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Eyes to See

I love the story of Elisha and the servant when they were surrounded by the Aramean army.

Early the next morning, when the servant of the man of God arose and went out, he saw the force with its horses and chariots surrounding the city. “Alas!” he said to Elisha. “What shall we do, my lord?” Elisha answered, “Do not be afraid. Our side outnumbers theirs.” Then he prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes, that he may see.” And the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw that the mountainside was filled with fiery chariots and horses around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17 NASB)

When we can know and see what God knows and sees, we can change. I believe that this is where true repentance leads. I think that we can have a twisted idea of what repentance really is. We think it is just feeling bad about something, saying we’re sorry, confessing if needed, and then trying hard to never do it again. The Bible dictionary defines repentance as:

The Greek word of which this is the translation denotes a change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world.

The fruit of repentance is change; a deep, fundamental and complete change influenced by direct experience with God. You see things differently because you have been Read Full Post

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Characteristics vs. Attributes: Demystifying Lectures 3 and 4

Every now and then you find an answer that is extremely satisfying almost in a thirst-quenching kind of way.

I was perusing Lectures on Faith again with my copy I carry to church and I was again confronted with Lectures 3 and 4 and how they address God’s characteristics and attributes. There are six of each in their respective lectures and there seemed to be some redundancy as it pertained to mercy and truth appearing on both lists.

As I pondered this, I thought about why there was even a need to differentiate between characteristics and attributes since they seem to mean the same thing. Here is how they are defined in the Webster’s 1828 dictionary:

Characteristic: That which constitutes a character; that which characterizes; that which distinguishes a person or thing from another.

Attribute: That which is attributed; that which is considered as belonging to, or inherent in;

I had a hard time understanding the difference between the two, they seem to both be indicating that characteristics and attributes were both qualities that belonged to something.

It wasn’t until a little digging that Read Full Post

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Is Agency a Negative Concept?

A few days ago I heard someone at church talk about agency as a “gift” but that got me thinking if it really was or not. Perhaps you are thinking, “Well, of course it’s a gift, doesn’t everything good come from God?” That’s one way of looking at it but let me share a quote from Frédéric Bastiat that slipped into my mind at that moment that got me thinking about it differently.

As a friend of mine once remarked, this negative concept of law is so true that the statement, the purpose of the law is to cause justice to reign, is not a rigorously accurate statement. It ought to be stated that the purpose of the law is to prevent injustice from reigning. In fact, it is injustice, instead of justice, that has an existence of its own. Justice is achieved only when injustice is absent. (Bastiat, The Law)

I’m going to change that up a little and substitute God for the word law, agency for justice and captivity for injustice and we’ll see how it reads. Read Full Post

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Lessons Learned From (Almost) Five Years on a Plant-based Diet

Back in 2011, I wrote a post about the Word of Wisdom. I had some things that were bothering me personally and decided to face them head on. I did a lot of study and research combined with soul-searching and prayer and out of all that came some powerful insights that propelled me down an unexpected, and to be honest, undesired path.

I’ve written a little about that back-story recently but now I’d like to share some things I have learned since then. While you may not agree with some of the conclusions I have come to, I think there are still some principles that are universal in nature.

First I’d like to emphasize the importance of not becoming a judgmental fascist because of your particular views. Next, are some other interesting and unexpected ideas that unfolded to me over time. Finally, I’d like to share some pictures of some of the tasty meals I prepare, because if there is anything I love as much as symbolism, it’s cooking!

Don’t be a Nazi

The revelation we know as D&C 89 was, “To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint,” so I’ve never felt that it was right to shame, scold, force, command or constrain my interpretations in any way upon those who apply the principle of D&C 89 differently than I do. I believe that doing so violates the spirit in which the revelation was given.

I’m all too aware (and maybe you are too) of those that are passionate Read Full Post

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