What are we? Are we this tabernacle of clay composed of water, carbon, and a host of chemicals and bacteria? These atoms that existed long before our birth and will continue long after our death?
As I have pondered questions such as these, I have concluded that core substance of our being is our mind. Some call it consciousness or the soul, LDS scripture calls it “intelligence,” (see Intelligence, Guide to the Scriptures) but I will address it here as the mind.
Aside from immortality or mortality, when you peel back the layers of God or man, there is a mind at the heart of each.
Between God and man is a vast gap. One of the most noticeable differences is that God is immortal, and we are not. The resurrection is a gift from God that raises us to his level concerning physical death. With that aspect of the gap aside, what then remains?
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We live in a world with billions of people and each one of us has ideas on how things should be. Whether it is how governments should operate to where the family should eat for dinner, we all have different ideas. When it comes to religion, things can get very contentious even to the point of violence.
If you have found your place within a religious tradition that claims to have been influenced or even initiated by deity you probably feel that you are in the right on many things. Where we have a reality that involves many people and groups claiming to be God’s people and doing his work, we also see the need for at least tolerating each other’s presence as a start.
Once we’ve done that, how do we then move forward? How do we interact with people who contend with us, or those that were once united with us and then depart? What about those that are among us that Read Full PostGo to Comments
“Jesus says, ‘If a man love me he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings.’ As a man’s love is manifested by his works, so is his faith.”
– The True Faith, Orson PrattGo to Comments
OneClimbs commenter Chip recently asked:
“…just curious if you have any insight or analogy for tithing. I love the whole symbolism of climbing the mount that you apply to principles. So was just curious if you had examples or ideas on tithing like that.”
I realized that after all these years and closing in on 400 posts, I haven’t said anything about tithes. There are several topics that I have intentionally not referenced at this point because I’ve been pondering them for years and I don’t have anything to say or share on those things as of yet; they are still growing in the garden.
Tithes, surplus, and consecrationGo to Comments
If you aren’t familiar with James W. Fowler’s research on what he calls the “stages of faith” then you might be missing out on some good stuff.
There has been a lot written about Fowler’s research and I think it provides a helpful framework for understanding the dynamics of various individuals in a faith community. I think it is safe to say that most understand that different people are on different levels of spirituality and understanding, but I’m not sure we understand what the implications of being at those levels are.
Here is the full audio of a Seventh Day Adventist speaker named Jon Paulien talking about the stages of faith in great detail. I particularly enjoyed the last third of this recording and it got better and better until the end. I invite you to listen to the whole thing as it contains some truly inspired words and counsel. I originally came across this resource at Bill Reel’s Mormon Discussion Podcast.
Stages of Faith Audio
Have you ever observed someone that you thought was very spiritual but they often seem to be borderline “apostate” in some ways? Do you consider yourself knowledgeable in spiritual things and often feel like everyone else at church just Read Full PostGo to Comments
What testimony have men, in the first instance, that there is a God?
Human testimony, and human testimony only. (2:56)
What excited the ancient saints to seek diligently after a knowledge of the glory of God, his perfections and attributes?
The credence they gave to the testimony of their fathers. (2:56)
How do men obtain a knowledge of the glory of God, his perfections and attributes?
By devoting themselves to his service, through prayer and supplication incessantly, strengthening their faith in him, until like Enoch, the brother of Jared, and Moses, they obtain a manifestation of God to themselves. (2:55)
Is the knowledge of the existence of God a matter of mere tradition, founded upon human testimony alone, until a person receives a manifestation of God to themselves?
How do you prove it?
From the whole of the first lecture of the second section.
The questions and answers above are from the very end of the catechism in Lecture 2 of the Lectures on Faith. These particular questions and answers condense the message of scripture into a few words that take only seconds to read. There is no doubt in my mind as to the source of their inspiration. Based on personal experience, I can soberly state that I know of myself that these words are factual.
For 86 years, the Lectures were the “Doctrine” part of the Read Full PostGo to Comments
Just some thoughts on the following verses from Lecture 1. (Lectures on Faith)
18 The Savior says, (Matthew 17:19-20), in explaining the reason why the disciples could not cast out the devil, that it was because of their unbelief: “For verily, I say unto you,” said he, “if ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place! and it shall remove: and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
Faith without belief isn’t real faith. Faith is centered on something while belief expects something. The less that you expect that your faith will bear fruit, the less fruit you will find. There is a fine line here that becomes more tricky to walk as your belief and faith increase. Your expectations must be based on what it is possible for God to do, or what his will is concerning you. To know this, you must Read Full PostGo to Comments
The inspiration for this article came from an observation I made today during an Elders quorum lesson on prayer.
We read the following portion of the sermon from Amulek in Alma 34:
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17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;
18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.
19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.
20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.
24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
I recently started the Book of Mormon over again in audio form while I’m at work. Chapter 6 of 1 Nephi caught my attention and led to some significant thoughts about agency.
And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of my father, for they cannot be written upon these plates, for I desire the room that I may write of the things of God.
For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.
Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.
Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men. (1 Nephi 6:3-6)
The limited resources Nephi had forced him to focus on what was most important. He desired to record “the things of God” over things that were pleasing unto the world; think about that. What types of things would Read Full PostGo to Comments
Well, today was like Christmas for me when I noticed that a domain that I have been wanting for quite some time had dropped!
I’m now the owner of “LecturesOnFaith.com“! You can find the Lectures online, but the websites are pretty terrible. I was surprised that nobody has taken the time to make a site worthy of the Lectures. Within a few hours, I built a brand new site where anyone can read the Lectures on Faith for free! On the main page, be sure to read everything there to understand the history behind them.
They originally constituted the “Doctrine” portion of the Doctrine and Covenants and contain some of the most simple and profound teachings concerning faith and how one may exercise it in a manner to bring salvation to one’s soul.Go to Comments
There is a phrase I hear repeated every now and then among members of the church. Typically when there is an issue they come across that challenges their faith, they are able to either reconcile that issue one way or another or remain undecided.
Without the necessary information to arrive at a satisfactory understanding, the person says that, for now, they will put the issue “on the shelf”.
“The shelf” is the proverbial repository for issues that you no longer want to deal with at the moment for whatever reason. You don’t have the time, resources, information or desire to pursue an answer to the question so you “shelf” it.
Here’s why I really dislike this metaphor.
When you put things on shelves all they do isGo to Comments
I was thinking about the whole grace/faith/works debate that seems to endlessly rage between the faiths.
Now we all technically believe in salvation by grace, or in other words, salvation is impossible without grace through the atonement of Jesus Christ. The disagreement seems mainly around how that grace is applied and what man’s role, if any, is in this process of salvation. All sides of the debate would probably agree that some kind of an acknowledgement of Christ’s atonement and grace on behalf of the individual is necessary in order to receive it, but at what point is one “saved”?
What frustrates me is how people on all sides of the debate seem to Read Full PostGo to Comments
“The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know.” (Lord, I Believe, April 2013 General Conference)
What a great line from Jeffery Holland! I have often erroneously thought to myself, “I can’t wait until I have greater faith so that I can do greater things!”
Maybe this is what the Lord meant when speaking of faith as small as a grain of mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). It isn’t the size of the faith but the degree of integrity toward your current faith where all sufficient power is found.Go to Comments
I like to understand how things work. I do this by trying to see relationships and patterns between things to see if they make any sense. I’ve been pondering the subject of desire for quite a bit now and in doing so the subject of “will” has entered the scene over the past several weeks.
As I pondered these things and discovered a few interesting little nuggets of wisdom, I think I’ve been able to piece a few things together that have really helped me personally.
In my studies, I have come to some conclusions about the power of will. The first step came by understanding will in a way that was somewhat new to me. It is summed up in this simple definition of faith: “Faith is intelligence exercising will”. This thought took me along another line of thinking that suggested that “the faith of any intelligence is only as strong as its will”.
So how do this all fit together? I put together a simple graphic that illustrates where I’m going with all of this.
The function of will
In pondering will, I turned to the good old Webster’s 1828 Dictionary for enlightenment. Concerning will, Noah Webster wrote: Read Full PostGo to Comments
- “Rust ruins more tools than overuse.” – Anonymous
- “I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” – 2 Ne. 1:15
- The priesthood is the means whereby things are organized and exalted.
- “Repentance is not a turning away, it is a turning towards.” – R. Anderson
- “I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” Eccl. 9:11
- Strength can come from knowledge. It can bestow the power to act or the opportunity for the power of God to act in our behalf.
- Faith is intelligence exercising will.
- We don’t comprehend what we are. Using will alone, we drive a cosmos of trillions of atoms and billions of cells to bring amazing things into existence.
- Just as we direct the matter of our bodies by our will alone, it is also possible to direct matter outside our sphere. Great faith can affect matter outside of the sphere of one’s body. Perfect faith, like God’s, can organize the macrocosmos.
- Faith is exercised through ‘channels’ and life is about searching for and finding the ones that fill us with light and life.
- Faith and fear are both actions taken towards things believed but not yet seen; fear only cares about what avoids pain.
- Fear will forsake truth to avoid pain while faith will receive truth even through pain.
- “The will acts upon the body in producing motion.” – Noah Webster
- The atonement is not something to ‘fill in the gaps’ in our lives, our lives themselves are transformed as we approach this atonement. In the end, we are completely converted and totally redeemed by it.
- The faith of any intelligence is only as strong as its will.
- “The understanding or reason compares different objects, which operate as motives; the judgment determines which is preferable, and the will decides which to pursue.In other words, we reason with respect to the value or importance of things; we then judge which is to be preferred; and we will to take the most valuable.” – Noah Webster
- “Desire is that internal act, which by influencing the will, makes us proceed to action.” – Noah Webster