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God Stepping Down

“Knowest thou the condescension of God?”

This question was posed to Nephi in a vision by one he refers to as the Spirit of the Lord. (1 Nephi 11:16) I’ve read this verse many, many times and I’ve often heard young people mispronounce it as “condensation” which always cracks me up.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately though as I’ve been hovering around the tree of life vision for several months now; I keep coming back to it and finding things that interest me.

The wording of this question always struck me as somewhat awkward, and what is being implied by the word “condescension” isn’t clear. In fact, in all of scripture, we only find it 5 times and all of those occurrences are in the first three books of the Book of Mormon.

Lately, I have been struck by how shocking this question may have initially been to Nephi. In the course of his vision, he is shown the same tree from his father’s vision, then a beautiful woman, and then he gets asked this question that at this point seems out of the blueRead Full Post

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Covenants, Ordinances and Ceremonies

Every covenant we make with God involves an ordinance and every ordinance involves a ceremony. These ceremonies use symbols to illustrate what the promised blessings are. Some ceremonies are long, some are short, and some will be missed if you blink.

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501

Nope, this post is not about Levi’s blue jeans, I didn’t realize that my last post was my 500th post here at oneClimbs.com so this one is post #501. I had plans to do something really special but nothing really materialized.

July 1st is a big milestone because it will mark 8 years since I started this blog back in 2010 so I’m glad I could sneak 500 in before the anniversary. It is staggering to think how much I have learned since then (well, to me at least) and will continue to learn in the decades to come; man, I just can’t wait! I have about 99 drafts still sitting unfinished and tons of other stuff sitting in my Evernote account and handwritten journals which is where a lot of posts originate.

With so much that I’d like to get done and so little time to do it, I think I understand a little why eternity will be so refreshing and why it is called “heaven.” Putting my thoughts into words and taking the time to try and explain my thoughts has helped me immensely. I highly recommend the practice of putting your thoughts down into words. The main reason I do it publicly is that it forces me to consider an audience.

oneClimbs.com doesn’t generate any revenue, I don’t promote it or seek traffic, it just is what it is and if anyone finds something useful then that’s fine; if not, no biggie. I do appreciate those that leave comments, there have been some great ones that have influenced and inspired me greatly.

Richard N. I love your humor and wit, Particle Man I appreciate your wisdom; a shout out to both of you. My favorite comment of all time was from “Rob” who said:

“This is a revelation that came to me in the midst of a trial I had that was of the caliber of Job’s trials: The Law of Sacrifice is the ‘Scale of Weights’ that measures Love. Love can only be measured when it is balanced in a scale against sacrifice.”

I’ve thought about that line for years, I’ve shared it, and it has taken me on an amazing journey of understanding, thanks, Rob.

Anyway, let’s see what kind of stuff I discover on the way to post #600 and beyond. Back to climbing…

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“What Mothers Cannot Give to Their Sons”

Props to Junior Ganymede for posting about this article titled What Mothers Cannot Give to Their Sons.

It’s a brief read and worth your time. While it doesn’t mention the Boy Scouts of America or their latest move to allow girls to join, the information in this article can be used to make the case that boys are the losers in this new system. That may sound like strong language but keep reading.

“The boy does not simply grow into manhood, for manhood is a cultural reality built on a biological foundation. Womanhood, by contrast, is a biological reality with cultural expression.

I must insist upon the distinction here. Saint Jose Maria de Escriva could understandably say to each of his male followers, Esto vir! Be a man, and we know what the exhortation implies. Even feminists know, and tremble. It implies that at any moment of a man’s life, his manhood is subject to trial, to be won, again and again, to be confirmed or to be canceled. A man can lose forever his right to stand beside other men. He can fall to being no man at all.”

G. over at Junior Ganymede disagreed with this last point of being no man at all, citing theRead Full Post

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“We Can Set It Aside:” How to Judge the Teachings of All Men

These words from Joseph Fielding Smith have been a key guide to my own studies over the years:

“STANDARD WORKS JUDGE TEACHINGS OF ALL MEN. It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine.

You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works.

Every man who writes is responsible, not the Church, for what he writes. If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it.

If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3:203–204. italics in original)

Personally, I expand the scope of President Smith’s words here to include the writings, speeches, or ideologies of everyone out there and not just church authorities.

There are many philosophies and precepts of men (2 Nephi 28:14,26,30-31) that burst into our awareness through a variety of channels with cheerleaders that demand that these new ideas be recognized immediately by everyone as absolute truths.
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The Three Things Required to Build Upon The Rock of Christ

There are 3 things that Jesus taught that enable one to build upon what he called his “rock.”

Building upon his rock is critical to find safety from the floods and winds that cause one to fall and be received into “the gates of hell.” (3 Nephi 11:39-40,14:27,18:13)

The fact that Jesus mentions building upon his rock 3 times in his visit to the ancient American survivors soon after his resurrection should catch our attention. The number 3 is associated with themes such as divine influence or emphasis and structure. When things come in threes, take note because something important is being shared!

The Rock of His Doctrine

The first way to build upon the rock of Christ is mentioned in 3 Nephi 11 and is part of the first things that he taught the gathered survivors in Bountiful. Jesus expresses his concern about disputations and contention (3 Nephi 11:29-30) among the people and desires to abolish it byRead Full Post

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The Philosophy of the 10 Commandments

Stefan Molyneux is someone that I enjoy listening to for his perspectives on various topics. This was an interesting conversation between Stefan and Dr. Duke Pesta where they are discussing the 10 Commandments and I thought that there were some really interesting points made that Latter-day Saints might find useful.

One of my favorite lines from the video: “When you get rid of the big rules we end up with the tyranny of little rules.”

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The Mechanics of Priesthood, Power, and Faith

What is the priesthood? What is the power of the priesthood and how does that work? What is the difference between authority and power?

I come across questions like these regularly from friends, family, at church, and in online forums; I’ve asked myself similar questions throughout the years. After many years of gathering up pieces here and there, I’d like to share some of the things that I have learned thus far.

The answers that I have found are simple in principle, but therein lies the challenge.Read Full Post

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The LDS Church Parts Ways With the Boy Scouts of America

On December 31, 2019, the LDS Church will officially unplug from the Boy Scouts of America. Wow, this is pretty historic and something that I wholeheartedly endorse and I’m sure we all saw coming from miles away. I am an Eagle Scout myself and while I acknowledge the tremendous impact for good that the organization has had in the world, I’ve believed for a long time that we could do better for our own people.

Since the changing of the guard, we have the consolidation of the high priests and elders and the discarding Read Full Post

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Put on the Identity of God

Copyright National Geographic

The following is reposted from JRGanymede.com

The Lovely One brought up the idea that Jacob getting the birthright from Isaac by deception was a type of us and Christ. We inherit all that our father hath by assuming our older brother’s identity just like Isaac. Of course what Jacob did was squirrelly and we were discussing whether even the unsavory could be types of Christ. So I brought up Laban. He is a type of Christ too, though wicked.

Bing! The light bulb went on.Read Full Post

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“But I thought…”

One of the most annoying phrases I hear from my kids is “but I thought…” I don’t know where they get these crazy assumptions from like “but I thought we were going to stay up late and eat ice cream,” or “but I thought we were going to have pizza for dinner.” My wife and I usually respond with something like, “Well, why on earth would you think that?”

The sad reality is that I often think it’s like that with us and God. Here’s my favorite example of this “but I thought” mentality from the scriptures:

“Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:10-13)

Naaman had preconceived ideas that clouded his vision, so much so that he became angry and “went away in a rage.” Do we do the same kind of thing? How about when we pray, what do we expect? Or how about when receiving a blessing, or talking with the Bishop? What about when listening to General Conference talks or studying things past leaders have done/taught/said?

What do we expect? Where did that expectation come from? Is it legitimate or is there another way to see things? I think much of life’s purpose is wrestling with these ideas and finding that sweet spot where light and truth materialize in the most unlikely of places and in the most unlikely of ways; that’s where God seems to like to do his work.

Namaan’s attitude was way off base, but he did the right thing in the end by putting his own ideas aside and trusting God; we can do the same.

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Fasting: Are You Doing it Wrong?

The word fast in Hebrew is tsowm and comes from the word tsuwm which means “to cover the mouth.”

I’ve always assumed that this covering of the mouth was referencing abstaining from food or drink. However, a recent reading of Isaiah 58 led me to another potential meaning that I think has important implications.

In Isaiah’s words, we discover God’s people desiring to draw close to him and say, “Why, when we fast, do you not notice? We afflict our bodies and you remain indifferent!” (vs.3*)

They assumed that making themselves hungry and thirsty would earn them God’s attention. Are we the same in that we feel like enduring a lack of food and water is pleasing to God in and of itself? While I do think that strength can be found in the denial of food and water for a time to help build the mind’s ability to subdue the natural man, I think there are other aspects of the principle that we may be ignoring.

The Lord continues: “Your present fasts are not such as to make your voice heard on high. Is this the manner of fasting I have required, just a time for men to torment themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and making one’s bed of sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast, a day of Jehovah’s good graces?” (vs.5)

If your fasting is filled with sorrow and self-deprivation then the Lord seems to indicate that you’re doing it wrong. Read Full Post

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The Simplicity of Scripture: Information, Interpretation, and Inclination

In Alma 37, Alma the Younger describes the meaning of certain relics to his son, Helaman who is about to come into possession of them.

The Liahona, Interpreters, and Gold Plates were among the items placed in Moroni’s box that was later unearthed by Joseph Smith. Missing from this list is the sword of Laban which I think the Nephites probably possessed their entire history up until Moroni. Why is it not mentioned? I’m not sure but this led me to wonder if the items that were listed had any significance or were related in any way.

Personally, I find Alma to be a very sharp individual and it isn’t uncommon to find many complex layers of meaning in his writings. He presents three particular kinds of relics to Helaman, three sets of metal plates, the Interpreters, and the Liahona. What I took from my latest reading of Alma 37 is the idea that these relics are representative of three essential elements that are necessary to make the best use of scripture: information, interpretation, and inclination.

In his list of items, the Liahona is key because it is a prime illustration of how our own inclinations determine the efficacy of scripture in our lives.

Information

Alma had many records in his possession and he highlighted the plates of Nephi, the plates of brass, and the Jaredite record which consisted of 24 plates of gold. Alma emphasized that it was important to keep a general record of their people for a sacred and wise purpose. The brass plates contained their scripture and genealogy. Not only did the brass plates Read Full Post

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“If it hasn’t happened to you—it should.”

“If it hasn’t happened to you—it should.” [1] That’s what President Ezra Taft Benson had to say about the changing of the human heart and being born of God. 

I would argue that if this has not happened in your life, then it should rise immediately to the top of your priority list. You may shrug this off thinking that you have been born of God, but have you? You may shrug this off because deep down you know you have not been but admitting it may make you feel foolish.

Maybe you have been an active member of the LDS church all of your life and you thought you had your bases covered because you’ve participated in all of the ordinances of the gospel. You take your covenant seriously and honestly seek to align your will with God’s.

“…behold, I ask of you, my brethren [and sisters] 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?” [2]

I don’t ask this question to draw out doubts but to increase faith. I’ve observed my fellow saints for years and I have met many that have been born of God and many more who have not. I see people struggle with faith crisis and all manner of difficulties in this world that would be eased or erased if they had been born of God and known of his love and power.

The Lectures on Faith teach clearly that unless members of God’s church “…have an actual knowledge that the course that they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint; … for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind; and where doubt and uncertainty is, there faith is not, nor can it be.” [3]

If you have not yet been born of God, then your sins have not been forgiven and you have no salvation; that’s not my opinion.Read Full Post

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The Simplicity on the Other Side of Complexity

“I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

This is exactly how I feel about my study of the gospel. It typically goes: simplicity > complexity > simplicity, which I think also correlates with Fowler’s stages of faith, namely: stage 3 > stage 4 > stage 5. I’m thrilled now when I discover complexity because it means that there is something really cool along and at the end of that path. When your simple box falls apart into a complex jumble of pieces, don’t despair, you’ve discovered a path to treasure!

This happened last night when I realized that there were multiple connections between Alma 33 and 37. My brain started going nuts and I took down many notes. It was late though and so I reluctantly put it on hold because I knew I’d be there for hours, I needed my sleep, and because I’ve learned to not trust any of my decisions past 10 pm.

That will be a future blog post for sure – as soon as I navigate through all the complexity I’ve discovered; I can’t wait!

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“Belief aims at Truth”

“The claim that “belief aims at truth” was first coined by Bernard Williams (1973)” link

Well said.

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The Ideal

“We are in a very real sense called to support, sustain, teach, and preach the ideal, even when our lives don’t match it, because that ideal is a way God protects all of His children — especially those who would have no way to find it because their lives are so very not-ideal … sometimes for generations on end.” (mormonwoman.org)

Found this quote in my journal and it still rings true. The word “ideal” is a little problematic to me though and strikes me as a little vague.

Whatever we preach as the ideal must be God’s ideals clearly identified as revealed doctrine as principles. LDS cultural norms and popular practices are applications and not doctrines and principles binding upon God’s people. I think that’s an important distinction to make, but I still like the quote.

It is cruel to not teach the truth, even when stones and arrows come flying your way from doing so.

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The Power and Paradox of Meaning

As I pondered the word meaning this morning the phrase “The Power and Paradox of Meaning” popped into my head as a summation of my thoughts.

Our lives each unfold in both expected and unexpected ways. Some things we desired, intended and forced into being while others were undesirable, unintended and nothing could stop them from materializing. These are simple facts about life that we have all observed and experienced in our mortal sojourn.

Whatever transpires, we each do something quite interesting, we assign a meaning to those things; we crave a meaning. When something happens we want to take responsibility or assign responsibility. We want to frame the events in some kind of paradigm so that it fits into our worldview. Ultimately, whatever happens, we want to feel that we have at least some kind of control and we can exercise control by assigning meaning.

Something good happens and we say that God blessed us, something bad happens and we say that God is punishing us. Both could be true in different cases but what is the meaning we decided upon and why? What influences the meaning we assign? An optimist tends to prefer more positive meanings where a pessimist may look for the opposite. This is what I find paradoxical about meaning, it is difficult to nail down. How do we determine what something means? When the ability to assign a meaning escapes us, I think it can cause stress and incredible frustration. An example of this may be the unexpected loss of a loved one or a natural disaster. Why did that happen? Was there a reason for it and who is responsible?

I think that the difficulty in assigning meaning appears to reveal something intriguing about the power of meaning. Could it be that the power to assign meaning is related to our agency and the purpose of life? Perhaps the meaning that we choose to give things is a reflection of our knowledge and intelligence. Or on another level, our ability to assign meaning can be a source of comfort in an otherwise devastating situation.

We can find meaning in our own reasoning, in the world around us, it in the scriptures, and meaning can be revealed to us by God. Still thinking about this. What do you think?

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Weapons of Love

“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)

Great ideas in this presentation, reminds me of Alma 31:5

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Analysis of an Incredible Eve/Mary Artwork by a Roman Catholic Nun

My friend, Richard N. shared this image with me, and I thought it was fantastic. What is lacking in artistic skill is made up for in composition and message which I will attempt to break down as intricately as I can. The artist is Sr Grace Remington OCSO, a Cistercian Sister of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, Dubuque, Iowa.

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