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Isaiah and the Remnant

Credit to JR Ganymede for bringing this to my attention (love that blog) and credit to Albert Jay Nock who wrote this essay in The Atlantic Monthly in 1936 (full essay). While the context of the original essay was political, I want to use Nock’s interesting summation of Isaiah’s situation to point out something related to the Book of Mormon. Here’s the excerpt that I’m drawn to:

In the year of Uzziah’s death, the Lord commissioned the prophet to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. “Tell them what a worthless lot they are.” He said, “Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don’t mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you,” He added, “that it won’t do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life.”

Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job — in fact, he had asked for it — but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so — if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start — was there any sense in starting it?

“Ah,” the Lord said, “you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it.”

So, I like this quite a bit and while you might find some inspiration to get you through today’s politically heated climate, turn your thoughts to the Book of Mormon. I would say that Isaiah’s mission mirrors several others in the Book of Mormon and five-six in particular come to mind: Lehi, Abinadi, Samuel, Nephi (the disciple), and Mormon/Moroni.

In each of these cases, they spoke to civilizations that each ended in destruction – they were the final warning. Their primary audience in large part, or in some cases, entirely, rejected their words but those words were carried to a remnant. Isaiah the prophet influenced each of these key players in Book of Mormon history, including Samuel. They were all involved in going forth to proclaim an unpopular message to a people that would turn their backs, but they were obedient nonetheless.

How much did reading and understanding Isaiah’s words give them the confidence to follow through with the Lord’s instructions? Did focusing on “the Remnant” help them to stand strong and even suffer death by fire to maintain their convictions? If so, think of what that can mean for us today when we find ourselves before a troubled world. Isaiah saw our day and so did the people of the Book of Mormon, perhaps that is a reason why their words are interwoven in the record we have before us today.

True are the words from Steven Kapp Perry’s song, “From Cumorah’s hill there comes a witness and a warning…”

To understand Isaiah better, I personally recommend brother Avraham Gileadi’s excellent translation and commentary of Isaiah that can be found free of charge at IsaiahExplained.com. Reading a modern translation straight from the Hebrew without the framework of “King James English” is phenomenal. Isaiah comes through clear as a bell and you’ll better understand why the Book of Mormon prophets and Jesus himself valued his words so much.

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Forgiveness & Repentance

Forgiveness is the loudest praise, repentance, the greatest peace.

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Spices, Gnats, and Camels

Zeal isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I think it tends to amplify our actions whether they are misguided or on point. Sometimes we can focus too much on the letter that we miss the spirit, or the weightier matters. Those are some the lessons reflected on in this great video from the Messages of Christ YouTube Channel.

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Retro Video: Scripture Symbolism

Thanks to my friend Richard Nobbe for bringing this video to my attention. It’s a bit dated in many aspects but the information is very good, and I geek out on just about anything that has to do with symbolism.

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Scripture as art

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle

“For us, divine inspiration does not mean God possesses a man, and simply dictates the inspired text to him. But rather God implants into a man’s mind a general concept. And when God does that, he allows the man to write that in the historical context in which he lives—what we call the Sitz im Leben—where ‘that is the setting in life.’ So a man may have historical inaccuracies, but God allows the man to write with those misunderstandings because what is important and what is inerrant is the theological concept God is trying to get across to mankind.” – Catholic Priest quote from movie Rudy

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A Proposed Reinterpretation of Jacob 2:30

In Jacob chapters 2 – 3 we find one of the most passionate and heart-wrenching sermons in the Book of Mormon. Jacob, the brother of Nephi, and the Lord himself speaks in condemnation of two major themes; the Nephite’s lust for riches and for taking many wives and concubines.

While the Book of Mormon as a whole condemns the practice of taking many wives and concubines, verse 30 of chapter two is said to indicate an exception to that rule. While the practice is condemned as a gross crime, a whoredom, and even an abomination, verse 30 appears to indicate that God will not only allow but command the men of his people to take on many wives and concubines to “raise up seed,” a reference to posterity. The phrase “raise up” is a bit enigmatic if you only look at this verse alone. Does “raise up” mean simply the act of bringing up children, does it mean increasing the population at a higher velocity, or could it be referencing something else entirely?

I believe that there is enough evidence within the text and supporting scriptures that provide an alternate interpretation. As with any post on this site, I am open to corrections if I am in error at any point. I don’t speak for the Church, I am not a scholar, and nobody should feel any obligation to believe anything I say. This blog is simply a place where I share some of the things I’m exploring. Read Full Post

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Seer Stones and Mobile Phones

“Every man who lived on the earth was entitled to a seer stone, and should have one, but they are kept from them in consequence of their wickedness, and most of those who do find one make evil use of it.” (Brigham Young’s journal, as quoted in Latter-day Millennial Star, 26:118,119)

“…no man can look in the them [the Interpreters] except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and should perish.” (Mosiah 8:13)

Interesting that we carry around these little black bricks made of plastic, metal, and glass in our pockets that illuminate and permit us to gaze upon them to reveal a multitude of things. If all earthly things are echoes of the heavenly, then perhaps having this technology provides an additional area of proving for us mortals.

Given our current ‘miraculous’ technological privileges, what do we seek after, what do we look for?

Would our motives be any different if it was heavenly technology?

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Scripture is a like a mirror

There is a lot of repetition in religious life from rituals, to ordinances, practices, and even scripture reading.

Let’s take scriptures as an example and I’ll let you think about how the metaphor applies to other things. First, imagine you are looking into a mirror, what do you see? Well, you see yourself of course, your face is backwards but that’s you. If you come back five minutes later, there is your face once again, but maybe you notice something new, an out of place hair, a blemish, or perhaps something stuck in your teeth. Other than that, everything else seems just as it was.

The mirror itself doesn’t change, if you come back 5 minutes later or 50 years later, it will continue to reflect as it did before. The purpose of the mirror is not to change, but to enable observation. They enable us to perceive things in a unique way and to review changes over time. The mirror reveals new things, but those new things do not come from the mirror, they are already there, we just lacked the ability to perceive them. Read Full Post

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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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