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The Gospel Vision of the Arts by Spencer W. Kimball

Spencer W. Kimball, “The Gospel Vision of the Arts,” Tambuli, Feb. 1978, 1

In our world, there have risen brilliant stars in drama, music, literature, sculpture, painting, science, and all the fields of excellence. For long years I have had a vision of members of the Church greatly increasing their already strong positions of excellence till the eyes of all the world will be upon us.

President John Taylor so prophesied, as he emphasized his words with this directive:

“You mark my words, and write them down and see if they do not come to pass.

“You will see the day that Zion will be far ahead of the outside world in everything pertaining to learning of every kind as we are today in regard to religious matters.

“God expects Zion to become the praise and glory of the whole earth, so that kings hearing of her fame will come and gaze upon her glory. …” (September 20, 1857; see The Messenger, July 1953.)Read Full Post

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A Visit to the Decalogue Stone at Hidden Mountain

A week ago, I had the opportunity to visit the famous decalogue or “ten commandments” stone outside of Los Lunas, New Mexico. I didn’t have much time to spend with it, but I was able to snap some up-close photos which can be hard to find. I’ll have to admit, I love stuff like this. I felt a little bit like Indiana Jones tracking down some kind of ancient artifact.

Here are the coordinates if you’d like to find the stone yourself (Easy as hunting a geocache): 34.785217°N 106.996512°W

Finding the entrance to the mountain is a little tricky. I wasn’t sure where to find the way over to the mountain because there was fencing all along the way with no roads in. I followed the road along the fence up to this small, white checkpoint and found that it was the entrance to a dump. I told the guy that I was looking for the stone and he knew exactly what I was talking about; it was apparent that I wasn’t the first to have asked him about this. He instructed me park about 50 yards away and go through this gap in the gate.

Follow the directions!

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Parley P. Pratt’s call to the Apostleship

In accordance with one of the early revelations to the Church concerning the calling and ordination of Twelve Apostles, this quorum was now being filled. Among those chosen for this high and holy calling was my brother Orson and myself. He being still absent, and the other members having been already ordained, a meeting was convened at Kirtland, and very numerously attended, in which, on the 21st day of February, 1835, I took the oath and covenant of apostleship, and was solemnly set apart and ordained to that office; and as a member of that quorum under the hands of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer; the minutes of which in the Church History are as follows:

“Kirtland, February 21st, 1835. Pursuant to adjournment, a meeting of the Church was held, and, after prayer by President David Whitmer, and a short address by President Oliver Cowdery to the congregation, Elder Parley P. Pratt was called to the stand, and ordained one of the Twelve by President Joseph Smith, Jr., David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery. ‘O, Lord, smile from heaven upon this thy servant; forgive his sins, sanctify his heart, and prepare him to receive the blessing. Increase his love for thee and for thy cause; increase his intelligence, communicate to him all that wisdom, that prudence and that understanding which he needs as a minister of righteousness, and to magnify the apostleship whereunto he is called.

“May a double portion of that Spirit which was communicated to the disciples of our Lord and Saviour, to lead them to all truth, rest down upon him, and go with him where he goes, that nothing shall prevail against him; that he may be delivered from prisons, from the power of his enemies, and from the adversary of all righteousness.Read Full Post

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The Constitution—A Glorious Standard by Ezra Taft Benson

Ezra Taft Benson, “The Constitution—A Glorious Standard”, Ensign, Sept. 1987, 6

From an address delivered at a BYU devotional held Tuesday, 16 September 1986, in commemoration of the bicentennial of the Constitution of the United States.

On the 17th day of September, 1987, we commemorate the two-hundredth birthday of the Constitutional Convention, which gave birth to the document that Gladstone said is “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”1

I heartily endorse this assessment, and I would like to pay honor—honor to the document itself, honor to the men who framed it, and honor to the God who inspired it and made possible its coming forth.

To understand the significance of the Constitution, we must first understand some basic, eternal principles. These principles have their beginning in the premortal councils of heaven.

Some Basic Principles

The first basic principle is agency. The central issue in that premortal council was: Shall the children of God have untrammeled agency to choose the course they should follow, whether good or evil, or shall they be coerced and forced to be obedient? Christ and all who followed Him stood for the former proposition—freedom of choice; Satan stood for the latter—coercion and force.Read Full Post

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The Sower, the Tree of Life and the Degrees of Glory

We have a parable and two visions to look at here. The parable of the sower is a familiar New Testament parable related by Jesus Christ to a multitude from a ship on the sea shore about the various types of ground certain seeds were cast on to. The first vision is an account in the Book of Mormon by a prophet named Lehi who sees a vision revolving around a tree of life and a description of the various types of people he observes. The second vision is an account from Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants concerning the degrees of glory that exist in the hereafter and a description of the characteristics of those inhabitants.

The Sower

In the parable of the sower, we are taught by the Master about seeds cast into various situations and what the consequences were. The parable is found in Matthew 13 in the New Testament.

  1. Good ground: (Brought forth fruit; some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.)
    Interpretation: To those that hear the word and understand it, they will all bear fruit but at varying degrees.
  2. The way side: (Fowls came and devoured them up)
    Interpretation: When any one hears the word of the kingdom, but doesn’t understand it the adversary can come and steal away whatever was sown in his heart.
  3. Thorns: (The thorns sprung up, and choked them.)
    Interpretation: This is one that hears the word, but the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word.
  4. Stony places: (There was not much earth so when they sprung up they were scorched by the sun because they had no root and they withered away.)
    Interpretation: This is one that hears the word and receives it gladly but because ‘he hath not root in himself’, he endures for a while but is immediately offended when tribulation and persecution arise.

Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life

In Lehi’s vision there are multitudes of people pressing towardRead Full Post

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The Inner Life of a Cell – Amazing!

I’ve always wondered how deep this complexity goes; we’re not even looking at things at the sub-atomic level! I think we all can agree that life is amazing and precious. Even the smallest creature is a world within itself.

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Receive the Holy Ghost by David A. Bednar

I absolutely loved this talk by Elder Bednar. Some of the things he said confirmed some impressions that I had and shed some new light on a very interesting topic.

Talk by David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

October 2010 General Conference

My message focuses on the importance of striving in our daily lives to actually receive the Holy Ghost. I pray for and invite the Spirit of the Lord to instruct and edify each of us.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

In December of 1839, while in Washington, D.C., to seek redress for the wrongs done to the Missouri Saints, Joseph Smith and Elias Higbee wrote to Hyrum Smith: “In our interview with the President [of the United States], he interrogated us wherein we differed in our religion from the other religions of the day. Brother Joseph said we differed in mode of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We considered that all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 97).Read Full Post

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But If Not

The following is an excerpt from a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King. Whatever you may think of the man, when a person speaks something truthful, it deserves to be heard by all who love and cherish the truth (if you disagree, you might want to read what old Brother Brigham said about the subject.)

But let me move now to the basic point of the message. Know this morning, if we forget everything I’ve said, I hope you won’t forget this. It came to the point after saying “Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, but! if he doesn’t deliver us, we still are not gonna bow.” “But if not” — do you get that? That these men were saying that “Our faith is so deep and that we’ve found something so dear and so precious that nothing can turn us away from it. Our God is able to deliver us, but if not…” This simply means, my friends, that the ultimate test of one’s faith is his ability to say “But if not.” You see there is what you may call an ‘if’ faith, and there is a ‘though’ faith. And the permanent faith, the lasting, the powerful faith is the ‘though’ faith. Now the ‘if’ faith says, “If all goes well; if life is hopeful, prosperous and happy; if I don’t have to go to jail; if I don’t have to face the agonies and burdens of life; if I’m not ever called bad names because of taking a stand that I feel that I must take; if none of these things happen, then I’ll have faith in God, then I’ll be alright.” That’s the ‘if’ faith. You know, a lot of people have the ‘if’ faith. Jacob found himself in that dilemma once, and his faith was contingent on an if. And he said “Now if God will be with me and if he will keep me in this way that I go; and if God will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then shall the LORD be my God.” That’s the ‘if’ faith; Jacob hadn’t quite gotten to the essence of religion.

There is a ‘though’ faith, though. And the ‘though’ faith says “Though things go wrong; though evil is temporarily triumphant; though sickness comes and the cross looms, neverthless! I’m gonna believe anyway and I’m gonna have faith anyway; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, the LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” And old Job got to that point, he had a ‘though’ faith. He looked out and everything that he had had been taken away from him, and even his wife said to him “Now, what you ought to do, Brother Job, is to curse God and die. God has been unkind to you, and you should have let God know a long time ago that you would only follow him if he allowed you to stay rich, if he allowed your cattle to stay in place. You ought to curse him and die, Job, because he hasn’t treated you right.” But Job said “Honey, I’m sorry but my faith is deeper than that. Though he slay me, yet will I trust him. My faith is a ‘though’ faith.” And this is the essence of life and religion. The question is whether you have an ‘if’ faith, or whether you have a ‘though’ faith.

You know what this says in substance, that ultimately religion is not a bargaining matter. A lot of people bargain with God. “If you just let me avoid pain, God; if you allow me to be happy in all of its dimensions; if you don’t allow any suffering any suffering to come; if you don’t allow frustrating moments to come, then I’ll be alright, I’ll give you a tenth of my income, and I’ll go to church and I’ll have faith in you.” But religion is not a bargaining experience, it’s not a commercial relationship. And you know, no great experience in the bargaining atmosphere. Think of friendship, think of love, and think of marriage. These things are not based on ‘if,’ they’re based on ‘though.’ These great experiences are not based on a bargaining relationship, not an ‘if’ faith, but a ‘though’ faith.

And I’m coming to my conclusion now. And I want to say to you this morning, my friends, that somewhere along the way you should discover something that’s so dear, so precious to you, that is so eternally worthful, that you will never give it up. You ought to discover some principle, you ought to have some great faith that grips you so much that you will never give it up. Somehow you go on and say “I know that the God that I worship is able to deliver me, but if not, I’m going on anyhow, I’m going to stand up for it anyway. What does this mean? It means, in the final analysis, you do right not to avoid hell. If you’re doing right merely to keep from going to something that traditional theology has called hell then you aren’t* doing right. If you do right merely to go to a condition that theologians have called heaven, you aren’t doing right. If you are doing right to avoid pain and to achieve happiness and pleasure then you aren’t doing right. Ultimately you must do right because it’s right to do right. And you got to say “But if not.” You must love ultimately because it’s lovely to love. You must be just because it’s right to be just. You must be honest because it’s right to be honest. This is what this text is saying more than anything else. And finally, you must do it because it has gripped you so much that you are willing to die for it if necessary.

This is my favorite part:

And I say to you this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and so precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live. You may be 38 years old as I happen to be, and one day some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause–and you refuse to do it because you are afraid; you refuse to do it because you want to live longer; you’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you’re afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you or shoot at you or bomb your house, and so you refuse to take the stand. Well you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90! And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. You died when you refused to stand up for right, you died when you refused to stand up for truth, you died when you refused to stand up for justice. These boys stand before us today, and I thank God for them, for they had found something. The fiery furnace couldn’t stop them from believing. They said “Throw us into the fiery furnace.” But you know the interesting thing is, the Bible talks about a miracle. Because they had faith enough to say “But if not,” God was with them as an eternal companion.

LINK

Pretty awesome stuff. The whole speech is great, I get pumped up whenever I read it. Like I said, I love truth, wherever it may be found.

——-

Updated: November 14, 2010

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Flash Mob Signs Hallelujah Chorus in Mall

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Defining and understanding “Charity”

They don’t write definitions the way they used to anymore. This is just one more great reason why I love Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. The standard definition for ‘selfish’ is pretty straightforward, but then you come to ‘selfishly’ and then POW, you’ve got some brilliantly delivered doctrine!

SELF’ISHLY, adv. The exclusive of a person to his own interest or happiness; or that supreme self-love or self-preference, which leads a person in his actions to direct his purposes to the advancement of his own interest, power or happiness, without regarding the interest of others. Selfishness, in its worst or unqualified sense, is the very essence of human depravity, and it stands in direct opposition to benevolence, which is the essence of the divine character. As God is love, so man, in his natural state, is selfishness.

So if we want to dig a little deeper here, we will find a profound truth. We are used to two ends of a spectrum in our faith, we usually speak of pride and humility. But, in my opinion there is something more specifically worse than pride and infinitely greater than humility; it is selfishness on one end and at the other end, charity, which is the benevolence of Christ.

So what isRead Full Post

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Atonement and the sacred thou at the center of Joseph Smith’s Revelations by Blake T. Ostler

Visit http://blakeostler.com/ for more books, articles and information about Blake T. Ostler

by Blake T. Ostler

Blake T. Ostler

It is significant, for reasons that I will explain shortly, that Joseph Smith did not arrive at his understanding based on a theological analysis. Given his penchant for the prophetic, it is understandable that his views are not expressed as a systematic logic of carefully crafted axioms and assumptions. His ideas are not the result of logical calculation but of sacred revelation, not of evidential proof but of intimate experience. His views are expressed as rhetorical exhortations and devotional observations rather than analysis and argument. His religious vision was more like sparks flying from a flint wheel than a seamless fabric of postulates and premises. However, these sparks did not careen off the wheel at random; rather, they flashed in a common direction and in interesting patterns. His insights are like embers of thought deep in the heart seeking to catch fire; like fuel for creative contemplation.Read Full Post

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Holocaust

What does “holocaust” mean? Most people might instantly without thinking throw out a reference to the mass slaughter of humans (esp. Jews) by the Nazis during World War 2.

To illustrate, a person on Yahoo Answers asked the question: “Why is the holocaust called the ‘holocaust?” To which the ‘best answer chosen’ was:

“Because the word “holocaust” means “an act of mass destruction,” in the case of “The” Holocaust it was the mass destruction of 11 million lives.”

Technically the word “holocaust” doesn’t mean “an act of mass destruction.” That may be what the general understanding of the word today is, but words are complex things and most often have intriguing histories behind them.

Let’s turn to a modern dictionary to find out. Dictionary.com defines “holocaust” as:

  1. a great or complete devastation or destruction, esp. by fire.
  2. a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; burnt offering.
  3. (usually initial capital letter) the systematic massslaughter of European Jews in Nazi concentration campsduring World War II (usually prec. by the ).
  4. any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life.

Sounds pretty much like what we would have expected to find inRead Full Post

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Sacrament: The Witness of the Willing

The idea of ‘renewing’ a covenant seems initially kind of strange when I think about it. A covenant is a contract so if you break the terms of the contract isn’t the contract null and void? Why do we have to keep renewing a promise that we have already made? Or how about this: Why would God make a covenant with man, if he knows that every single one of us will break it?

I was thinking back to the era of the Law of Moses. God made covenants with Israel, yet they still had these sin and peace offerings that they could make from time to time as needed. So what exactly is going on here with the covenants we make today? When doctrinal issues seem a bit muddled, it’s always best to go to back to the source and break everything down into digestible parts.

Let’s examine the sacrament prayers themselves for more insight on the covenants we make.

The blessing on the bread:

“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he has given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.”

First, we learn that we are eating the bread in remembranceRead Full Post

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Understanding the atonement by understanding the body

Many of the following quotes were obtained by a presentation given at BYU by Philip A. Allred called “Made Holy in the Body“.

The body is a recording device.

Our body is literally a recording device, it is equipped with at least five known senses with which we take in the world around us. With our brain, we process the information and with our will we determine what to do with it. Here are some quotes from Presidents of the Church on this topic.

From President John Taylor:

“…I could show you upon scientific principles that man himself is a self-registering machine, his eyes, his ears, his nose, the touch, the taste, and all the various senses of the body, are so many media whereby man lays up for himself a record…” (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 26:32.)

From Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

In a real though figurative sense, the book of life is the record of the acts of men as such record is written in their own bodies. It is the record engraven on the very bones, sinews, and flesh of the mortal body. That is, every thought, word, and deed has an effect on the human body; all these leave their marks… (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 97.)

Again from Pres. Taylor:

God has made each man a register within himself…. Your eyes and ears have taken it in, and your hands have touched it… (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 11:77-80).

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Mormon 8:12

Mormon 8:12
And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these. Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you.

Much time is spent by some seeking to find a secular explanation for the existence of the Book of Mormon while others who work to counter the critics and dig deeper for clues that point to a work of divine origin.

Even though this self-proclaimed imperfect record came into existence through the fumbling hands of imperfect but inspired men, Joseph Smith still felt confident enough in the message to label the Book of Mormon as “the most correct of any book on earth”. Joseph also stated that “a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book,” which is certainly a bold claim by anyone’s standards.

Here is a book with a simple message, it acknowledges its faults but includes a promise that God himself will reveal the truth of it to those who read and ponder its words and then ask with faith in Christ (Moroni 10:3-5).

But can we look past the faults? Do we see them as evidence of fraud orRead Full Post

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Brigham Young on Truth

If you can find a truth…we claim it
“I want to say to my friends that we believe in all good. If you can find a truth in heaven, earth or hell, it belongs to our doctrine. We believe it; it is ours; we claim it.” (DBY, 2)

There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel
“Mormonism,” so-called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to “Mormonism.” The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as we are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. “Mormonism” includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fulness of all things in the gods and in the eternities of the gods.” (DBY, 3)

It is our duty to gather every item of truth and reject every error
It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or withRead Full Post

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Why We Celebrate the United States Constitution

It was noon, October, 19, 1781, when two lines formed on the Yorktown battle field. Washington and the Americans stood in one line. The French in the other. Between them slowly marched the defeated British. The British General Cornwallis did not come. He excused himself as being indisposed. Instead, he sent his sword of surrender by the hand of General O’Hara. O’Hara tried to surrender the sword to the French commander, but he was waved back to Washington.

When Washington saw that a subordinate officer had come with the sword of surrender, he told O’Hara to make his presentation to one of his own subordinates, General Benjamin Lincoln. The sword ceremony was the signal for the British to march forward and surrender.  At that very moment, on the Yorktown battlefield, America was given her freedom.

The miracles of the Revolutionary War that lead up to the victory in Yorktown were numerous:  I am reminded of one on a cold, Christmas evening. Washington’s troops were near collapse. Thankfully, the British, who could have finished the troops off decided to wait until Spring and took up Winter quarters. The paid Hessian solders, who customarily had a big celebration on Christmas day, would be sleeping off their drunkenness.  It was a perfect time for an attack.Read Full Post

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How are we “Saved”?

These questions are prompted by the occasional run-ins I have had with those of other religious traditions. Most of the time, certain verses are put forth as ‘the’ definition of how one obtains salvation. I have heard and seen some of these verses being quoted by people of other religious traditions almost like they stand independent of what the rest of the scriptures have to say. So I decided to lay out and categorize some of the New Testament verses that seem the most specific in saying ‘do this’ and ‘the same shall be saved’.

Belief or Faith

  • “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31)
  • “And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.” (Luke 18:42)

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The Wise Man on the Mountain

After an Institute of Religion class, my teacher and I were having a discussion in his office. He asked if he could show me something; he grabbed a book and took his seat across the table from me. He asked me to close my eyes and focus on envisioning what he was going to be reading to me. What he read was a very descriptive narrative of a climb to the top of a mountain that was meant to be imagined from the perspective of the reader.

This simple narrative was amazingly effective at teaching a few important principles that I will cover later. With a few words, my paradigm had been shifted concerning how I approach my Father in Heaven in prayer.

Below is the text that was read to me and since you can’t read this with your eyes closed, I suggest possibly having someone read this to you or for the time being, read it slow and try and project what you are reading into your mind’s eye. Do your best to clear your mind, find a quiet place and simply focus; if you simply skim it, you will getRead Full Post

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The Two Trees

by Valerie Hudson Cassler

[Author’s Note: This presentation was given with an accompanying PowerPoint that utilized visuals to illustrate the points being made…Also, as a transcript of an oral address, the speech is more colloquial than an academic would normally use; my apologies.]

I’m delighted to be here today with you at FAIR. I think I came last year with Ralph Hancock and Richard Sherlock and we talked a little bit about SquareTwo. [Slide Two, on SquareTwo, is shown.] So to repeat the refrain may I simply remind you that SquareTwo is aiming to be the best online journal of LDS thought concerning the important issues of the world today. Our articles and comments are always reviewed. When we’ve had extremely controversial issues discussed, we’ve had up to 50,000 viewers of our various articles. In fact, just in our last spring issue, the very last issue, we had one of the only articles written about polygamy by a faithful Mormon woman. So there is a female perspective on polygamy, perspective such as D&C 132 makes it absolutely plain that polygamy is an Abrahamic sacrifice. And from what we know of Abrahamic sacrifices, they are always temporally bounded and there is always a ram in the thicket, whether that be in this life or the next life. And that is why we do not baptize those who are living polygamously even in countries where that practice is legal, because outside of a commandment to perform an Abrahamic sacrifice, an Abrahamic sacrifice is always an abomination. However, monogamy is never an abomination; it is rather one of the chief blessings of God. So that’s one of the things you can lay on some of those 16 year old girls who ask you.1

All right, let’s get to the real talk here. I didn’t join the Church because I was a feminist, butRead Full Post

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