• Upcoming article topics: Constructing the Universe, Does God Defy Science?, Terryl Givens
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    Our Part in Prayer

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    I was driving with my daughters on the way to school and we were in a rush and had to pray in the car. My 8 year old offered a prayer and asked, “please bless us to do good in school and to make good grades and to be nice to people.”

    I took the moment to point ask her to reflect on what she was asking God to do for her. I told her that is was ultimately up to her if she was nice to people or wanted good grades. God won’t suddenly make you nice or magically give you good grades. I needed to illustrate a different approach. Well, I shared 2 accounts with her that came to mind from the scriptures; the first is from Nephi’s account. I’m not driving so I have the luxury of including the actual text here:

    But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound. (1 Nephi 7:17)

    Nephi expresses his desire for deliverance, but he doesn’t expect it without Read Full Post

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    LecturesOnFaith.com gets a little facelift

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    I decided that it was time to readdress the home page of LecturesOnFaith.com, it was looking kind of homely. I’ve been wanting to spruce it up for some time now but never really got around to it.

    What inspired me was attending an Elders quorum class in my previous ward where the presidency had been teaching from the Lectures on Faith for their first Sunday lesson! We were on Lecture 3 and I was just about to lose my mind at how awesome it was to get to study an entire lecture in church! Realizing that people were using this resource made me want to make it a better, more inspirational experience.

    So I made a big focus area on the home page and put some of my favorite excerpts from the Lectures in there and made them rotate after several seconds. I also added big buttons that link to the Lectures and made them very prominent (I’d like to create some custom icons for each lecture one day). I adjusted the titles I gave to the Lectures so that they are more uniform in length. Now everything looks nice and neat, but I’m sure I’ll think of more updates in the future.

    I love having this as a side project and hope to always keep it available for people to enjoy.

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    The Grace of Contrast

    A recent reply I shared on an online forum:

    Catholics are heavily immersed in ritual, so I think they “get” ritual more than most, or are at least more accustomed to it. Latter-day Saint Sabbath services and surroundings at church are nowhere near as elaborate as the richly meaningful proceedings conducted in ornate cathedrals.

    Maybe we wish that church and the temple were equally as rich in symbolism and ritual, it’s a captivating thought, but I kind of like it the way it is. If we were around the temple all the time, would we appreciate the contrast? How wonderful it is to go to the temple and experience stepping out of one world and into another (which is intentional). Home after a long journey is never the same, but it hasn’t changed, you just see it with different eyes.

    A temple is a model of the cosmos; the cosmos above which holds all of creation, and the cosmos below which is man. That which is common is profane, but contrast parts light from darkness, revealing everything in between. Worlds without end for us to explore, and we think this only refers to orbiting planets. The endowed are veiled with a garment, a reminder of where the true temple is. How many dwell perpetually in the outer courtyards of consciousness, never setting foot inside the Holy of Holies within.

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    Desire is the Appetite of the Heart

    Simple truths in a text message exchange this morning with a friend:

    Steve: Desire will blossom into whatever it is fed.

    Chris: So desire is the appetite of the heart?

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    The Military & Schoolhouse Models in Mormonism

    I really liked this post from the guys over at Junior Ganymede. When I saw the title and began reading it I thought I knew where the author was taking the subject but I was pleasantly surprised to see how this topic went in a direction I didn’t expect. I have my own thoughts about these things but found this such an interesting post, I had to share it.

    There is going to be a part two, so give this one a read and leave your comments below, let’s talk about this.


    While once trying to explain to a non-Mormon friend why missionaries had such a strict dress code, I talked about showing respect for others, about norms of economic equality between rich and poor missionaries, but none of it seemed to register. Finally I said, “Look, becoming a missionary is like joining the Army. They have a collective goal, and everything is focused on that goal, to the point where things that you might otherwise find bothersome really don’t matter. If you are so concerned about individuality that you resent having to wear a uniform, then Read Full Post

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    Sugardoodle presents: Temple Symbol Hunt

    A fun idea about how adults, youth, and kids can learn about symbolism and temples with a sketchbook and LDS Symbol Cards.

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    May 14th 2016 – Hebraeus Foundation Zion Conference

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    Announcing the Hebraeus Foundation Zion Conference, “A Time of Awakening,” Grand Ballroom, Utah Valley University, Saturday May 14th 2016, 9.00 am to 9.00 pm.

    Featuring a Twelve Tribes youth color guard; top speakers, including Avraham Gileadi, Karen Prier, Thomas Harrison, and David Warwick; a tasty dinner & dessert; inspiring activities; and a fabulous music and dance concert. Only $50. Register now as seating is limited to about 500.

    Although all Ten Virgins had fallen asleep before the coming of the Bridegroom, the five wise had “received the truth . . . taken the Holy Spirit for their guide . . . and not been deceived” (Doctrine & Covenants 45:57) – at a time of when all but the very elect would be deceived (Matthew 24:24). Come, and receive a fresh supply of oil for your lamps!

    Please register at www.IsaiahInstitute.com/p/events_11.html or www.JosephandJudah.com/p/events.html. Or contact Robin Young, secretary, Hebraeus Foundation, at robinyoung922@gmail.com, or call her at 541-490-0880.

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    Margaret Barker Transcript from The Worlds of Joseph Smith Conference

    I love reading anything by Margaret Barker, if you don’t know who she is then you need to look her up and buy some of her books or read some of her articles online. She’s a Methodist scholar and has brought some amazing insights into Judeo-Christian studies that have piqued the interest of LDS scholars. Over the years, she has made many wonderful contributions to LDS research and I am grateful for the interest and respect she has for LDS theology.

    The following transcript is her analysis of how Joseph Smith’s contributions to an understanding of the ancient world match up with some of the things we have discovered in modern scholarship. Enjoy!


    Margaret Barker

    A Transcript of Her Response

    The Worlds of Joseph Smith

    An International Academic Conference at the Library of Congress

    May 6, 2005

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    It isn’t easy to respond in twenty minutes to such a rich and interesting paper. Professor Givens has set Joseph Smith in the religious and cultural context of his time and has raised many important issues. I should like to take a few of these issues and set them in another context—Jerusalem, in about 600 BCE.

    Do the revelations to Joseph Smith fit in that context—the reign of King Zedikiah, who is mentioned at the beginning of the First Book of Nephi? (King Zedikiah was installed in Jerusalem in 597 BCE.)

    I am not a scholar of Mormon texts and traditions, and I must emphasize that. I’m a biblical scholar specializing in the Old Testament. Until some Mormon scholars made contact with me a few years ago I would never have considered using Mormon texts and traditions as part of my own work.

    “Are the revelations to Joseph Smith consistent with the situation in Jerusalem about 600 B.C.E?”

    Since that initial contact I have had many good and fruitful exchanges and have begun to look at these texts very closely. I’m still, however, very much an amateur in this area. What I offer can only be the reactions of an Old Testament scholar—“Are the revelations to Joseph Smith consistent with the situation in Jerusalem about 600 B.C.E?”

    First, Professor Givens raised the question of ongoing revelation and an open canon. As far as we know there was no question of a canon in 600 BCE and ongoing revelation from the prophets was accepted, even if what the prophets said was uncomfortable.

    One generation earlier there had been the great upheaval in Read Full Post

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    Thoughts about prayer on a recent walk

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    I was out for a walk recently at my in-laws and followed this trail that was laced with hundreds of bluebonnets. Deep into the trail, I found a quiet area that seemed to be a nice place to pray for a bit. It was a little chilly so that somewhat distracting, but otherwise it was fairly peaceful.

    I thought of the contrast between this beautiful place and the terror and horror that is out there in the world. It is strange that two extremes can exist at the same time in reality and how one or the other can consume your entire awareness. I pondered whether I am at peace because of the setting or because of something much Read Full Post

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    Wrong on the Way to Right

    “And now, when [King Lamoni] heard these words, he said unto [his servants]: Now I know that it is the Great Spirit; and he has come down at this time to preserve your lives, that I might not slay you as I did your brethren. Now this is the Great Spirit of whom our fathers have spoken.” (Alma 18:4)

    King Lamoni was dead wrong about Ammon being the Great Spirit. He goes further than just stating this as a theory, he says, “Now I know that it is the Great Spirit,” but how can he say that he knows something that is later proven untrue?

    How many times do we hear people testifying that they ‘know’ something? Maybe they do know, but then again, maybe they don’t, so what sense can we make of this?

    Here’s where things get interesting to me, although Lamoni was wrong about Ammon’s identity, he was right Read Full Post

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