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Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall by Dallin H. Oaks

by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

From an address given at a Brigham Young University eighteen-stake fireside on 7 June 1992 in Provo, Utah.

The Lord warned the first generation of Latter-day Saints to “beware concerning yourselves” (D&C 84:43). I seek to remind each of us of the mortal susceptibilities and devilish diversions that can unite to produce our spiritual downfall.

Lehi taught that “it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, … righteousness could not be brought to pass” (2 Ne. 2:11). In the realm of spiritual progress, that opposition is often provided by the temptations of Satan. We learn in modern revelation that “it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves” (D&C 29:39).Read Full Post

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Let Us Have Peace by J. Reuben Clark Jr.

by J. Reuben Clark, Church News, November 22, 1947.

The international gospel of the Founding Fathers was forecast by Jefferson in 1793. It was voiced by Washington in his Farewell Address in 1796, when he declared we should have “as little political connection as possible with Europe,” because Europe has a “set of primary interests” with which we had “none or a very remote relation,” wherefore “must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concern;…why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice? It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” The Monroe Doctrine declaring against the future colonization of the American continent by Europeans, against the extension therein of their political system, against interposition by European powers to control the destinies of the Latin Americas, implemented the principles of the Address. And Jefferson, commenting in 1823 on the Monroe DoctrineRead Full Post

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Challenging some peculiar ideas about peculiar people

“LOL, ROFL” ok, got it out of your system? As tired as this old cliché is, I think it is high time we bury it. I understand that it can be fun sometimes to play on misunderstandings of words, but when I hear people in a Gospel Doctrine setting or church talk perpetuate the peculiar = weird idea as doctrine I think we need to get our heads out of the cartoons for a while.

By continuing to perpetrate the idea that ‘peculiar’ means ‘odd’ or ‘weird’ we not only teach false doctrine, we corrupt our own understandingRead Full Post

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Moderation in all things: a useless phrase

“Moderation in all things” – I hear this phrase come up often in conversations and the first thing that comes to mind is Inigo Montoya’s response to Vincini after another exclamation of the word “Inconceivable”!

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means” (The Princess Bride – do I really need to reference this?)

Likewise, I’ve often felt the same way as Inigo but did not know much about the origin of this phrase myself so I decided to do some research. First of all, this phrase doesn’t come from the Bible, or the Book of Mormon or any scripture for that matter, here is a little historyRead Full Post

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The Justified Slaying of Laban

Today was the first day of Sunday School for the new year and each year we begin the study of a new collection of scripture. The cycle repeats itself over four years, so we spend two years on the Bible, one on the Old Testament and one on the New Testament. Then we spend two years on restoration scripture, one on the Book of Mormon and one on the Doctrine and Covenants and a collection of various scriptures referred to as “The Pearl of Great Price”.

We just finished up the Book of Revelation in the New Testament in December so this next year invites us to a full study of the Book of Mormon. Part of what we covered today was the beheading of Laban by Nephi, a dramatic event that any new reader to the Book of Mormon encounters almost immediately.

In the beginning of the narrative, Nephi, a young man of unknown age is living peaceably in the city of Jerusalem and just a short time later, he stands before the drunken body of Laban as the Lord commands him to slay the man; what a contrast of situations for anyone to be placed in!Read Full Post

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Sustaining the servants of the Lord

We do a lot of sustaining in the church and by sustaining I am speaking in terms of raising our arms to the square to indicate our willingness to support those called by the Lord via priesthood authority to positions in the church. There is much more to sustaining than meets the eye and when we understand more about this principle it can help us truly fulfill what we are actually promising by lifting an arm.

Sustaining in church

“All of those in favor, please indicate by the uplifted hand.” says a member of the priesthood leadership on some Sabbath day morning, to which a congregation will usually raise their arms to the square indicating their approval.

This same ritual is repeated time and time again, usually each Sabbath day as new callings are announced and presented before the congregation out of respect for the doctrine of common consent. Joseph Smith once said: “No man can presideRead Full Post

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The Seal of Melchizedek?

by Alonzo L. Gaskill
(alonzo_gaskill@byu.edu) is an assistant professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU.

To be unversed in symbolism is to be scripturally and ritually illiterate.

Symbolism is the language of scripture and ritual. To be unversed in symbolism is to be scripturally and ritually illiterate. As one text notes, “Symbols are the language in which all gospel covenants and all ordinances of salvation have been revealed. From the time we are immersed in the waters of baptism to the time we kneel at the altar of the temple . . . in the ordinance of eternal marriage, every covenant we make will be written in the language of symbolism.”[1] While Latter-day Saints accept and utilize a number of symbols common to other religious traditions, we also have our own unique set of symbols foreign to most other faiths.[2]

In recent years Mormonism appears to have adopted a new symbol, one quickly growing in popularity. It is commonly referred to as the seal of Melchizedek and consists of two interlocked (or overlapping) squares, making what appears to beRead Full Post

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Review: The Book of Mormon, A Reader’s Edition

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So I’m in love with my new “Reader’s Edition” of the Book of Mormon and I’ll explain why here in this review. First of all, I understand the value of the “official” scriptures the church puts out; they are brilliant for cross-referencing and studying.

However, I find them quite terrible for reading. If you don’t agree with me it might be because you grew up reading the four thin columns of highly compressed text and are used to it. But to many novices to scripture, especially the LDS editions, it might be a bit of a struggle if you are used to reading novels and other modern books presented in elegant typographic style.

I’m note really a novice to the LDS version of the scriptures, I’m quite used toRead Full Post

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A diamond sun and celestial worlds

Several years ago, scientists discovered what they believe is the largest diamond known to man: “a compressed heart of an old star that was once bright like our Sun but has since faded and shrunk.” LINK

A BBC article reported:

The huge cosmic diamond – technically known as BPM 37093 – is actually a crystallised white dwarf. A white dwarf is the hot core of a star, left over after the star uses up its nuclear fuel and dies. It is made mostly of carbon.

For more than four decades, astronomers have thought that the interiors of white dwarfs crystallised, but obtaining direct evidence became possible only recently.

The white dwarf is not only radiant but also rings like a gigantic gong, undergoing constant pulsations.

“By measuring those pulsations, we were able to study the hidden interior of the white dwarf, just like seismograph measurements of earthquakes allow geologists to study the interior of the Earth.

“We figured out that the carbon interior of this white dwarf has solidified to form the galaxy’s largest diamond,” says Metcalfe.

Astronomers expect our Sun will become a white dwarf when it dies 5 billion years from now. Some two billion years after that, the Sun’s ember core will crystallise as well, leaving a giant diamond in the centre of the solar system.

“Our Sun will become a diamond that truly is forever,” says Metcalfe. LINK

This made me think of Doctrine and Covenants 130:6-9 which speaks of our world, when redeemed, becoming like crystal or a sea of glass:

The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth; But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord. The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim. This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.

Interesting that there is at least one crystal celestial body floating around out there that is not only “radiant” but “rings like a giant gong undergoing constant pulsations”. I wonder what these pulsations are and how they occur.

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Persuasion vs. Force

by Mark and Jo Ann Skousen

Copyright 1992 by Mark and Jo Ann Skousen. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

A version of this essay originally appeared in the September, 1991, issue of Liberty magazine.

Sometimes a single book or even a short cogent essay can change an individual’s entire outlook on life. For Christians, it is the New Testament. For radical socialists, Karl Marx’ and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto is revolutionary. For libertarians, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is pivotal. For economists, Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action can be mind-changing.

Recently I came across a little essay in a book called Adventures of Ideas, by Alfred North Whitehead, the British philosopher and Harvard professor. The essay, “From Force to Persuasion,” had a profound effect upon me. Actually what caught my attention was a singleRead Full Post

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The Lord’s Prayer by Andrea Bocelli + MoTab

Turn up your speakers, it’s quite the experience to listen to this beautiful music.

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Restoring the pentagram to its proper place

The pentagram. At the sound of its name the average person might think of “Satanism”, you may walk down the aisle of a video rental store and see it on the covers of horror movies, but has it always been this way? Has the pentagram always been associated with evil? How did it come to mean this?

Below are two stars that appear several times on the outside of the LDS Nauvoo temple. These two inverted stars are actually tied deeply to Jesus Christ and have been for a very long time; I’ll explain.

The pentagram, or day star/morning star is an ancient representation of the planet Venus. Jesus Christ, in the New Testament is referred to as both the “Day Star” and the “Morning Star” in connection to the planet Venus.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2 Peter 1:19)

“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)

In eight earth years, venus will have orbited the sun 13 timesRead Full Post

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Discovering sacred teachings in LDS Chapel architecture

Just as LDS Temples bear profound doctrinal teachings in their architecture, I suspect that our meetinghouses might have some things to teach us as well.

For the past several years, I’ve been paying close attention to the architecture certain styles of chapels that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been building. I found curious repetition of certain numbers and themes and assumed that they were probably just coincidental, but then had some fun considering possible meanings in the design.

I’ve still got a lot of studying yet to do, but I’ll share what I’ve observed thus far along with some potential interpretations.Read Full Post

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Video: Nature by Numbers

Special thanks to my friend, Mitchell Colver, and his blog where I first saw this video.

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A fresh take on the Word of Wisdom

The Word of Wisdom is a revelation that includes many instructions from the Lord pertaining to the substances we consume that therefore make up our bodies. The promised blessings for obedience to the principles revealed to us are priceless and varied. But before getting to this modern dietary law, let’s start with a few examples of instructions concerning diet that God has given to man since the beginning.

A brief history of divinely mandated dietary laws

The Garden of Eden

We read, there was a garden eastward in Eden where Adam and Eve were counseled concerning that which they took into their bodies for nourishment:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17)

Since they were allowed to eat of every tree of the garden, we can assume that their diet in this case was strictly limited to vegetation. There is no evidence of man consuming flesh for food at this point. The only thing they were counseled to not partakeRead Full Post

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Book Recommendation: How to Win Friends and Influence People

I don’t often recommend books, but I was just so impressed by Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” that I had to share some of my perspectives on it.

First off, for years I misjudged this book by its title. I think many if not most of us have heard of it before and I personally always thought that it was one of those ‘self help’ books for introverted people with no friends. A family member read the book and recommended it; this was enough to pique my interest.

I am pleased to say that I highly enjoyed this read and only regret not having read it much earlier in my life. I was impressed by the years and years of research that Mr. Carnegie put into discovering the principles of human interaction and formulating simple ways to apply true principles to our every day lives easily.

I purchased the audio version of the book and listened once through and enjoyed it so much that I’m going through it again so the principles can stick more firmly in my mind.

I found the book a wonderful treasure-trove of easy to understand concepts that anyone can put into practice to live in greater peace and happiness with those around them. The ideas are not new, they have been taught through time immemorial, you’ll read them in the scriptures and hear them preached over the pulpit. The book is full of valuable encounters of human situations that vividly illustrate certain principles that we can apply in our own interactions with people.

Now this is a book ‘recommendation’ and not a review. I personally don’t feel that I could do the book justice by trying to break it down for you, so I will simply leave an open invitation to read the book for yourself.

I have already noticed a huge change in the way that I deal with people. I have been surprised at how my relationships with virtually everyone I have come in contact with, from old friends, to family to strangers has been enhanced and improved. I look forward more to interacting with people and how the power of kindness can win over just about anyone.

So there you have it. Pick up a copy and give it a read, it’s fun and almost addicting putting these principles in practice and immediately reaping the rewards.

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Was 9/11 our Mormon 3:10?

Today is the 10th anniversary of the horrific events that began with the deaths of over 3000 people here in the United States and that continues to this day with a total human death toll that has climbed well over one million dead, 4.5 Million Displaced, 1-2 Million Widows, 5 Million Orphans and almost 5000 dead U.S. soldiers. [source]

Are we any closer to justice or peace? Where is the end to all of this? How does one win a war that is not declared on any nation but on individuals we arbitrarily identify as “terrorists”.

As a Latter-day Saint, I refer often to the Book of Mormon which has much to say on the situation of war. I have learned that is it just to fight to defend certain things:

Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church. And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies. And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed… – Alma 43:45-47

Preemptive/Offensive Wars

Innocent people were killed on 9/11 and we declared ourselves as a nation under attack. If we look to the Book of Mormon for perspective, we will find recorded in 3 Nephi an account of a band of “terrorists” living out in the wilderness who threaten the Nephite civilization. The people conclude that the best decision is to fall upon them in the wilderness and destroy them in their own landsRead Full Post

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60 Great quotes on war

These are a few quotes on war that I feel express great wisdom that we would do well to understand and practice. Pay attention to #42 and #43.Read Full Post

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Temple Square Monument: The Law, Governments, Liberty, The Way

Until recently, I had NO idea that this was at Temple Square. It is amazing to me that there it is, right in front of the Salt Lake Temple and I’ve never seen it. It’s fantastic, and appropriate that such a monument dedicated to true freedom and liberty stands right in front of the Lord’s house.

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Roman Catholicism

I really enjoyed this article on Catholicism from a April 1971 Ensign. I found it to be very objective and enlightening and was pleased to find such an article in one of our church magazines. I think it did justice to the faith in a manner that would be pleasing for any Catholic to read (if you disagree, feel free to shoot me an email) I post it because of it’s educational value and also because I wish that such an objective and unbiased tone could be used when talking about eachother’s faiths all around.

Roman Catholocism

by Dr. A. Burt Horsley, a professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University

The Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church served not only as a form of self-inquisition; it also resulted in a dialogue with the non-Catholic world. The attention of men of all faiths everywhere was focused upon a tradition and an institution that numbers as adherents more than one sixth of the world’s population.

It is not possible in this article to deal with Catholicism in all its many facets, but some of its historical, theological, and cultural perspectives can be examined profitably. As with most institutions, it has had periods of infamy and greatness as it has playedRead Full Post

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