Author Archive

Jun 3, 2012
7 min read
 

The Strength God Gives

In Ether 12:27 the Lord tells the prophet Moroni:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Many articles could be written on this one verse alone, but for the purpose of this article I will be providing some thoughts on at least two types of strength God gives to us. I was reading this verse today in church and felt like exploring more about what God means by “strong”.Read Full Post

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May 20, 2012
9 min read
 

A Message for Fathers

Talk given by Steven Reed, May 20th 2012 before an LDS congregation in Nevada.

First of all, I’d like everyone, especially fathers, to have a pen and paper or phone or tablet or anything to take notes on for the end of this talk. You have until then to prepare…you’ve been warned.

Ezra Taft Benson said that “a father’s calling is eternal, and its importance transcends time. It is a calling for both time and eternity.”

The most important work we have as fathers is within the sphere of our homes and families. This small and many times chaotic unit is the beginning phase of an eternal kingdom meant to rule and reign forever. To obtain such blessings, we must not lose perspective and be distracted by passing fads and that which passes as “wisdom” from a world that is still searching for it.

I’ve often contemplated how the professional sphere has slowly encroached upon family ground. Work used to be a holy task, “sweat from our brow” used to provide for the survival of the family, but has this holy task of providence been transformed into a personal quest for self-aggrandizement? Do we lust after coveted worldly titles that can vanish in an instant, over the everlasting title of Father?

What title fills us with more value, CEO, COO, CTO, Vice President, Senior Communications Developer, National Creative Analyst, Corporate Infrastructure Administrator, Global Integration Consultant – or Father? Do we care more for the selfish praise that comes from those we make rich by our labors or the unconditional loveRead Full Post

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May 7, 2012
4 min read
 

Woman’s position in the eternal economy of the Creator

Here is an excerpt from a chapter written by LDS apostle James E. Talmage in October of 1914. Writing to a female audience, he focuses on the dynamics of gender and the relationships between men and women in this world and the next. There are many wonderful doctrinal tidbits in the following words. Enjoy!

The status of woman in the world is a subject of present-day discussion and an element of current social unrest; it is, however, by no means a new topic. The female sex is not infrequently referred to as the weaker of the two. As gauged by physical standards this classification may be essentially correct. And be it said to the discredit and shame of the stronger sex, man through the centuries gone has been prone to use his superior strength to the oppression of woman. She has suffered the greatest humiliation during periods of spiritual darkness, when the Gospel of Christ was forgotten.

Woman occupies a position all her own in the eternal economy of the Creator; and in that position she is as truly superior to man as is he to her in his appointed place. Woman shall yet come to her own, exercising her rights and her privileges as a sanctified investiture which none shall dare profane.

It is part of woman’s mission in this life to occupy a secondary position of authority in the activities of the world, both in the home and in the affairs of public concern. Of this condition, explanation and justification may be found in the fact that in every organization, however simple or complex, there must needs be a centralization of authority, in short, a head. The secular law recognizes the husband as the head of the household, and theoretically at least holds hi[m] accountable for his administration. That many men fail in their station, that some are weak and unfit, that in particular instances the wife may be the more capable and in divers ways the better of the pair, should not be considered as evidencing impropriety or unrighteousness in the established order as a general condition.

Woman should be regarded, not in the sense of privilege but of right, as the associate of man in the community of the home, and they two should form the governing head of the family institution, while to each separately pertain duties and functions which the other is less qualified to discharge. Weakness or inefficiency on the part of either in specified instances must not be taken to impugn the wisdom by which the organization of the home and of society has been planned.

In the restored Church of Jesus Christ, the Holy Priesthood is conferred, as an individual bestowal, upon men only, and this in accordance with Divine requirement. It is not given to woman to exercise the authority of the Priesthood independently; nevertheless, in the sacred endowments associated with the ordinances pertaining to the House of the Lord, woman shares with man the blessings of the Priesthood.

When the frailities [sic] and imperfections of mortality are left behind, in the glorified state of the blessed hereafter, husband and wife will administer in their respective stations, seeing and understanding alike, and co-operating to the full in the government of their family kingdom.

Then shall woman be recompensed in rich measure for all the injustice that womanhood has endured in mortality. Then shall woman reign by Divine right, a queen in the resplendent realm of her glorified state, even as exalted man shall stand, priest and king unto the Most High God.

Mortal eye cannot see nor mind comprehend the beauty, glory, and majesty of a righteous woman made perfect in the celestial kingdom of God. (from the Young Woman’s Journal 25 [October 1914]: 600-604, link)

I do realize what a touchy topic this is. Each gender has unique and sacred characteristics and when combined you get a marriage of those characteristics which form the foundation of an Eternal unit.

We speak so much of ‘equality’ which is defined as “uniformity” and while man and woman do govern equally in the family unit, I feel that ‘unity’ is a much better word because it is defined as “the state of being one”. I think it is important that each gender (particularly the men) in their respective stations remember the counsel of D&C 121 concerning unrighteous dominion. Either side through selfishness can throw out of balance the divine harmony that should exist between man and woman.

There is no compulsion in the economy of God, only persuasion, love and self-sacrifice. Think of Jesus washing the feet of his apostles; a perfect image of how a husband should preside in a family. Think of the dedication of the apostles to Jesus Christ and the love that was shared between them. The model of the church itself has much to teach us on how we should structure out own families.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” – Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)

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Apr 23, 2012
2 min read
 

Wilford Woodruff on Preaching the Gospel

A good and wise friend of mine, Mitchell Colver, sent me this wonderful quote from Wilford Woodruff about preaching the gospel:

When you go into a neighborhood to preach the Gospel, never attempt to tear down a man’s house, so to speak, before you build him a better one; never, in fact, attack any one’s religion, wherever you go. Be willing to let every man enjoy his own religion. It is his right to do that. If he does not accept your testimony with regard to the Gospel of Christ, that is his affair, and not yours. Do not spend your time in pulling down other sects and parties. We haven’t time to do that. It is never right to do that. (Contributor, August 1895, 636–37.) [source]

I think people of all faiths would do well to heed this advice, but especially Latter-day Saints. I think the Church as an institution does a phenomenal job with abiding by the precept of letting others worship in peace without condemnation, etc.

I hope that as members of the Church in general that we can always abide by these precepts. Although I seek to proclaim the truths that I am a witness of, I feel perfectly fine in letting others believe as they will. No matter what religious organization we belong to, whether it is led by God or not, we are all at varying positions in our relationship to God and this should be respected.

We should each proclaim the good we possess and allow the Spirit to testify of truth instead of seeking to compel others by crafty reasoning or other tactics that involve the arm of the flesh or man’s wisdom.

I love all of 1 Corinthians 2, but verses 1-5,13 & 14 seem to apply:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God…Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

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Apr 15, 2012
5 min read
 

Sikhism’s “Five Ks” and Other Sacred Clothing and Artifacts

I was driving down my street the other day and noticed that there was a family gathering going on at one of the homes. Seeing the turbans I figured that they must be of the Sikh faith. I realized how little I knew about their beliefs and thought I’d do a little research since I like to study other religions.

It is a very simple faith with some unique aspects that I found fascinating.

The Sikh (pronounced ‘seek’) religion that originated in southern Asia around the 15th Century. The word Sikh means ‘disciple’ or ‘student’ and the core purpose of the faith is to seek oneness with God. In order to escape the cycle of reincarnation, and become one with God, one must overcome the five obstacles which are: lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego.

Seemingly corresponding with the five obstacles are symbolic emblems that are continually worn called the “Five Ks”

  1. Kesh (uncut hair, usually tied and wrapped in the Sikh Turban, Dastar.)
  2. Kanga (wooden comb, usually worn under the Dastar.)
  3. Katchera (specially made cotton underwear as a reminder of the commitment to purity.)
  4. Kara (iron bracelet, which is a symbol of eternity.)
  5. Kirpan (curved sword, comes in different sizes.)

Each of these symbols are a “representation of the ideals of Sikhism, such as honesty, equality, fidelity, militarism, meditating on God, and neverRead Full Post

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Apr 2, 2012
13 min read
 

“They Are Among the Ancestors”: Origins of the Native American People

A recent change in Book of Mormon introduction gives support to the idea that when Lehi arrived at the promised land here in the Americas, that he was not alone. The introduction used to read:

…After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principle ancestors of the American Indians.

With a change of one word, it now reads:

…After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.

This significance of this change and why it was made is something fascinating to explore. The previous rendering seemed to lend credence to the supposition that all of the Native Americans were descendants of the Lamanites while the new rendering clearly implies that Lamanite remnants are instead mingled among the ancestors of the Native Americans. Like Jerry Seinfeld, we ourselves are left to ponder “Who aaaare these people?”

Everyone has their own theory about where the Native American people came from. There are all kinds of methods from DNA toRead Full Post

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Mar 30, 2012
28 min read
 

From Gutenberg to Grandin: Tracing the Development of the Printing Press

Keith J. Wilson, “From Gutenberg to Grandin: Tracing the Development of the Printing Press,” inPrelude to the Restoration: From Apostasy to the Restored Church (Provo, UT and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University and Deseret Book, 2004), 269–286.

Keith J. Wilson is an associate professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.

Late in March 1830, a notice in the Palmyra, New York, newspaper appeared announcing the recent publication of the Book of Mormon. It was the culmination of a three-year translating and printing process that would ultimately stamp Palmyra as the birthplace of Mormonism. Producing this book in the small town along the Erie Canal was an event of unusual proportion as well as portent. In many waysRead Full Post

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Mar 18, 2012
4 min read
 

The Meaning of the LDS Temple and its Ordinances

In Denver Snuffer’s book, “Passing the Heavenly Gift”, he provides a great summary on the meaning of the temple and its ordinances.

The temple ordinances portray a walk back to God’s presence. Although the ceremonies are presented in symbols, they testify of, and invite the actual return to Him. The washings, intended to cleans us, are more than a physical ordinance. They testify to us about necessary individual purity and spiritual cleanliness. Anointing with olive oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Thorough the Holy Spirit we are sanctified. It is holy, and when we receive it we become holy through our association with it.

When we are clothed with a garment, it symbolizes the sacrifice of Christ, laying down His body to cover our sins with His atonement. These are powerful symbols of how intimately our individual redemption is connected to Him.

The endowment instructs us about creation, and our own journey through mortal life. We must consider ourselves as if we are respectively, Adam and Eve. When we do, we find an explanation of our mortal condition. It tells us we came from God’s presence, and now live in a fallen world. To regain God’s presence we need to obey, make sacrifices, follow Christ’s Gospel, observe the law of chastity and consecrate our lives to Him. As we do, we will receive sacred knowledge from His messengers. Such messengers are sent by Him.

Men will try and mislead us with false teachings that mingle the philosophies of men with scripture. But if we remain true and faithful to whatever light we receive from Him, He will always send more. Messengers will come from the presence of God, bringing His message. They will not offer themselves for worship, adoration or respect…

True messengers labor to have you come to know Christ. They want all to be redeemed from the fall.

The purpose of the temple is to guide you back to Him. It is not the real thing, but only a symbol pointing to the real thing. It is not enough to read what has been written in scripture or taught by true messengers. You must get an experience for yourself so you also know God.

The real thing is found when the veil parts and you gaze into heaven. (p. 466-467)

The idea that the temple “…is not the real thing, but only a symbolRead Full Post

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Mar 12, 2012
9 min read
 

The Founding Fathers were Overwhelmingly Religious Men

I had a discussion the other day with an individual who claimed that the founding fathers were a mix of “atheists, agnostics, deists, and Christian”. He was trying to give the impression that there were a great majority of atheists, agnostics and especially deists. One of the sources he provided was the website “Our Founding Fathers Were Not Christians” (doesn’t exist anymore as of 9/13/2018) which on its face is complete nonsense. However, the site does correctly observe the fact that that “None of the Founding Fathers were atheists”; interesting.

So now we have dismissed with the atheist argument and most likely the agnostic argument and are left with a ‘deist to Christian ratio’. The Constitution does not mention God and the Declaration of Independence is written, at the very least, from a deist standpoint.

I do not have the time to analyze all of the quotations from the website “Our Founding Fathers Were Not Christian” but I will provide one example to show how they twist the facts. John Adams was a devout Christian throughout his life and though he seemed, like Jefferson, frustrated with many of the creedsRead Full Post

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Mar 6, 2012
4 min read
 

Parting the Veil

The veil was one of the core elements of the Hebrew temple. It was the dividing line between this world and the symbolic, or from time to time, literal presence of God. There are many meanings, doctrines, principles, types and shadows associated with the temple and what the veil may symbolize. For the purposes of this article, I will only be covering a few facets of this topic from a Latter-day Saint theological viewpoint.

Internalizing the Veil

The ancient temple and the modern temples alike share the common characteristic of being a model of both the macrocosmos and the microcosmos. The macrocosmos deals with heavenly bodies, systems and galaxies while the microcosmos deals with earthly bodies such as our own. Just as the heavenly bodies all orient themselves according to law, we as beings endowed with free will may orientRead Full Post

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Feb 27, 2012
11 min read
 

A Powerful Message From Baptist Pastor Paul Washer

Pastor Paul Washer in the excerpt below is speaking to a group of youth and trying to emphasize the importance of being a Christian, but not just in name, in deed as well. In the wild debate over faith and works where people tend to lurk along the extremes of one or the other, Pastor Washer does a good job of getting to the heart of the matter.

I think his words are equally applicable to Latter-day Saints or anyone professing to be a disciple of Christ. His words remind me of Moroni’s scathing judgement of Latter-day Saints in our day; and yes, my brothers and sisters, he’s talking about US.Read Full Post

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Feb 26, 2012
10 min read
 

The Book of Mormon Really Teaches This?

Please consider the power of these teachings pulled straight from the text of the Book of Mormon:Read Full Post

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Feb 19, 2012
31 min read
 

George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address

Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffragesRead Full Post

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Feb 12, 2012
7 min read
 

Of Parables, Symbols and QR Codes

I submit that where symbolism is in use, there is an invitation to receive more knowledge via a revelatory experience.

The veil exists to ensure that we are not held accountable for that which we are not willing to receive.

When the disciples of Christ came to him and asked “Why speakest thou unto them in parables? (Matt. 13:10)” Jesus responded saying “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given… therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matt. 13:11,13)Read Full Post

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Feb 6, 2012
29 min read
 

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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Feb 5, 2012
10 min read
 

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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Feb 3, 2012
6 min read
 

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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Jan 23, 2012
5 min read
 

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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Jan 8, 2012
11 min read
 

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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Jan 3, 2012
8 min read
 

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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