Perspective

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What does it mean to “live after the manner of happiness?”

2 Nephi 5:27 includes this intriguing verse that is always a delight to ponder.

Manner: 1. form, method; way of performing or executing. 2. Custom, habitual practice. (source)

Sometimes I think of happiness in terms of how I happen to feel at the moment, but that attitude seems kind of reactionary doesn’t it? Is happiness something that is out of our control; ultimately how much say do we have in the matter?

The Nephites seemed to take things into their own hands and make happiness a deliberate pursuit, they had a method.Read Full Post

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Truths that Joseph Smith’s Seer Stone Continues to Reveal

When I first saw the pictures of Joseph Smith’s primary seer stone my first thought was, “Oh, cool, I’m glad they released some pictures. I knew it was a small, chocolate-colored stone but I didn’t realize it had stripes.” and that was that.

I see conversations around the web indicating that some members of the Church are upset about the seer stone and the part it played in our history. Some were unaware of its existence, but I remember learning about it as a teenager. I didn’t know that much about the process of the translation and how the seer stone and Interpreters fit into the picture, but I did when I cared enough to research it on my own.

Skeptics find humor in the seer stone looking like just a plain old rock and are no doubt enjoying the opportunity to further paint Joseph Smith as an occultic scheister.

Instead of trying to address all of the legitimate concerns and questions, I want to write about my own perspective and the much larger themes at play.
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An Amazing Creation Sequence With a Surprising Twist

I have not yet seen the film The Tree of Life although the title alone draws my interest. This particular sequence depicts the creation in a manner that is very similar to the creation sequence in the presentation of the LDS temple endowment. In both instances, we see the earth being organized and life appearing.

In this Hollywood version, we see the process of evolution being depicted and I realize that some people might have a problem with that. Personally, I do not have any problems with evolution being part of the creation process (that’s a whole other subject) but if you do, I invite you to focus on the symbolism, the principles and overall beauty of the story being told here and the surprising little gem towards the end.

At 12 minutes in you have this really powerful and thought-provoking scene that seems to be symbolically depicting the first act of grace or mercy where one dinosaur decides to not kill another one that is evidently injured or dying. What makes the scene striking is how such a thing does not fit within the law of the jungle.

In a creative twist, showing an act of mercy coming from a dinosaur rather than a human is making a bold statement. It is unexpected and makes the principle stand out even more.

It is a moment where compassion, this sense of caring and love enters the scene of creation for the first time. Like the temple video, I think we can pause on being literalistic and appreciate the principles being symbolically illustrated. Indeed, if we are to be instructed by symbolic teaching at all, we must suspend literalism and learn to view things from many facets.

All in all, I absolutely love this entire sequence and was quite amazed to find something of this nature coming out of Hollywood.

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Gospel Knowledge vs. Gospel Know-how

Just because someone seems to know a lot about something, doesn’t mean that they can properly execute in that arena.

Someone may know a lot about baseball; they may know all the rules and regulations, they may know all the tricks and insights but they may not be able to hit the ball or throw well. Another person may be able to hit, run and throw with great proficiency but know little about various insights or philosophies involving the game.

In that same vein, it’s one thing to have knowledge and quite another to do well in applying it. I have had wonderful moments of awakening where previously complex doctrines or mysteries of the gospel have been clarified to me through the Spirit, and I love and cherish those moments.

One can obtain the most incredible command of gospel knowledge on earth and it would mean nothing if they do no have love or charity in their hearts for their fellow man.

It has always been significant to me that there are many in this world, of my faith, other faiths or in no faith at all who I have seen demonstrate perfect Christ-like love to their fellow man. No gospel knowledge at all was required.

So I have to remind myself that in all my studies of the gospel, I must not forget to put the principles I learn into action. I have to remember to not be like the man who hid his talent in the earth, but instead seek wisdom in order to better serve my fellow man in this life. People matter most of all.

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Korihor, Elsa, Cain, and Karl

What if we modernized Korihor’s philosophies and compared them to the kinds of things we hear people saying today?

For morning study a couple days ago, I started off reading about the sons of Mosiah but then felt like reading about Korihor. As I read, I had my trusty 1828 Dictionary app out to further analyze the words Joseph Smith used to translate Korihor’s ideas. Then, I looked in a modern dictionary to discern how his theories might be composed by someone presenting the same arguments today.

This exercise revealed a very familiar-sounding rhetoric. I also began to think about song lyrics from the movie Frozen (because I have 3 daughters) that reminded me of some words Cain spoke, and then all of it together reminded me of something Karl Marx wrote; all from pondering Korihor’s doctrines.

As for my modernized version of Korihor’s ideas, I claim ownership of my interpretations and any errors that I might have made. This is merely a personal exercise, so feel free to go back to the original text in Alma 30 and try this out yourself.

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David O. McKay Temple Address

I’m not aware of any other documents quite like this one. Here we have a general authority, David O. McKay, explaining temple ceremonies and covenants to a group of missionaries just before they receive them. I’ve had this in my personal collection for a few years now, I got it from a public pdf hosted on the BYU Idaho website. I think this would be a great thing to study for anyone preparing to enter the temple, and an insightful read for anyone who has already experienced temple worship.


An address on the Temple ceremony by President David O. McKay given Thursday, 25 September 1941, at 8:30am, Salt Lake Temple Annex (Manuscript in BYU Library Collections.)

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20.)

Such was the commission given by the Savior to His Apostles just prior to the Savior’s return to heaven, following His resurrection. Such is the admonition and authority He has given you, my fellow workers, and I congratulate you this morning upon this calling and upon your acceptance of the privilege to preach the Gospel. It is not only a privilege but a great responsibility to be commissioned as a missionary in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In that commission the word “teach” is used and repeated. You are teachers. Very young men and young women to go out and show the world the philosophy of life, to teach them the proper way of living, but that is your calling.

I congratulate you on being worthy to go through the House of the Lord. Your presence here indicates that you have lived a pure life, each of you, that you are worthy to go into the presence of the Father. Are you?

I have come over here this morning particularly because I have met so many young people who have been disappointed after they have gone through the House of the Lord. They have beenRead Full Post

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The Questions the Temple Creates

“In God’s great wisdom he has deliberately made the symbols of the temple unique, because their very uniqueness demands the mind ask the questions: Why do we do that? What’s the meaning of that? What’s the significance of this? These are the very questions God wants us to answer, the danger is not that we will ask the questions, the danger is that we become so familiar we stop asking the questions.” – Michael S. Wilcox, Blessings of the House of the Lord, 1999

This quote goes great with this article – think about it.

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The Rise of Righteous Rulers: An Open Letter to Men

I’ve been working on this particular article for months, maybe close to a year. I can keep tweaking this over and over or I can just share what I’ve got thus far, so that’s what I’m doing.

Because I am a man, I’m writing this from the perspective of a man particularly to the men out there. I’m writing this to me, to the men in my family, my friends, perfect strangers and especially to the men that will dare to go near my daughters one day (sorry, that’s just the papa bear speaking). I’m writing this to hold myself accountable for the things I understand and hope that the information might help improve a relationship out there somewhere.

It is up to you to take what is useful and cast aside what isn’t.

I’ve been surrounded by females my entire life. I have three little sisters (no brothers) and am a father of four daughters (no sons) and my wife has four sisters. (and one brother, whew!) My life has been heavily influenced by females and so understanding the dynamics of men and women in life and in the gospel has always been an interesting topic to me personally.

I am repulsed at the thought or the sight of any man, including myself, oppressing my mother, wife, sisters or daughters through selfishness or “unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39) More and more we see domestic violence, divorce, depression and an absence of the oneness God seems to intend. I’ve seen the criticisms of policies and doctrines of the LDS Church that some argue place men above women. It’s an understatement to say that this is a complex issue with many facets and it is not my intentionRead Full Post

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Lies and Testimony

Every fast and testimony meeting I can’t help but ponder what people mean by what they say. I suppose that only the person themselves really understands what they are trying to do by going up to the stand and speaking. One person might be speaking of real experiences and using better words to express themselves, while another person might be trying to express real yearning and feelings but using the wrong words.

It’s easy to judge the latter person and dismiss their attempts to express themselves. While one could easily point out the errors in their expressions, even to the point of calling them lies, maybe the judgers should take a deep breath and relax a little. I don’t think those people are necessarily lying or deceiving, let’s take a look at what a lie is:Read Full Post

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Taken Home

taken-home

I usually wake up slowly and roll out of bed at around 7:20am…ish.

My morning routine hasn’t been anything special, but today, I woke up right at 6am and was wide awake. Last night I had the idea to go climb to the top of one of the local foothills to pray and mediate first thing in the morning.

Well, now it was morning and I was very comfortable and my pillow felt just perfect. I settled into it and enjoyed the moment while telling myself that it would feel wonderful to drift off and catch another hour of sleep.

At the same time, however, was the notion that I was in control and could just as easily get up and pursue something more worthy. I put on some thick pants, hoodie, jacket and beanie and walked out of the house into the cold morning – I hate cold. I walked out of the neighborhood and across the street to where there are a series of foothills around Black Mountain.

As I walked I looked around trying to decide where I was going to climb. My eyes fell upon a dark, symmetrical hill that looked like the perfect spot, so I began my ascent. As soon as I reached the top, the pinkish orange hue of the clouds immediately increased to an intense level that was really quite breathtaking. After several minutes the color drained out, so I talked to God for a while, listened for a while and decided to wait for the sun to rise. The sun looked like it might be coming up closer to the South instead of the East. Then, I remembered that on the northern hemisphere in the winter, the sun rises in the South East, the same direction that Moroni on the Las Vegas Temple is pointing.

The sun was rising at this low spot between Black Mountain and another set of tall hills which meant I would get to see the sun sooner that I was expecting to. I looked East past Black Mountain and then slightly North East at the rays of the sun reaching some other mountains off in the distance. Everything the sun touched seemed to be standing at attention. I stood and faced the rising sun and the wind picked up quite fiercely, but I didn’t let it shake me.

The sun rose, partially veiled behind clouds that burned so brightly with white and gold that I had to avert my eyes. The sun had risen, although partially obscured.

I wanted to get home in time to pray with the family before the kids went to school so I began my descent. I made it back and we prayer together before my wife ran the kids to school. I fixed breakfast, went into my office and started my work day.

Just a few minutes ago, I was informed that my grandmother passed away.

We will miss you, Tutu.

“Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.” Alma 40:11

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The Struggles of Approaching Symbolic Learning

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I’d like to give an internet high-five to the Church for this great page they put up for the youth called “Symbolism and Temple Preparation“.

We do a great job of teaching “that the teaching in the temples is done in symbolic fashion” (Boyd K. Packer), but I think we do a sub-par job of teaching how to learn from teaching that is done in a symbolic fashion.

Consider President David O. McKay’s words about his first temple experience:

“Do you remember when you first went through the House of the Lord? I do. And I went out disappointed. Just a young man, out of college, anticipating great things when I went to the Temple. I was disappointed and grieved, and I have met hundreds of young men and young women since who had that experience. I have now found out why. Read Full Post

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Keep the Temple Sacred, but Don’t Keep it Secret – by J Washburn

sacred-but-not-secret

The following is a guest-post from J Washburn:

In December of 2012, I toured the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Washington D.C. (thanks to having recently read Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol).

Our guide led us upward through that Masonic tower, telling us cool facts about each room—one of which was a replica of the Masonic hall Washington himself presided in. I tried to get our guide to tell us about the hidden parts, but she had a pretty good excuse not to: “I’m not a Mason, and couldn’t be if I wanted to—it’s for males only. So I’ll tell you as much as I know, but I’m an outsider just like all of you.” And then she’d try to answer my questions, but it was never enough.Read Full Post

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The Power of Doctrine

doctrines-principles-applications

In his book Increase in Learning, Elder Bednar teaches that principles arise from doctrines. If we take any principle of the gospel such as faith, repentance, obedience, etc and ask the question, “Why is this necessary?” the answer will always be found in doctrine.

Think about how you would answer the question, “Why is faith in Jesus Christ essential?”

Is the way you would answer based in doctrine? How would you answer that question in a way that focuses on the doctrine or doctrines that the principle is based on?

Let’s say, for example, that a few of the following doctrines come to mind when faith in Jesus Christ is pondered:

What scriptures or teachings of modern prophets help us to obtain a more complete understanding of these doctrines?

I had a mission president that once taught Read Full Post

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Teaching Principles by Aaron L. M. Goodwin

The variety of opportunities for teaching in the Lord’s kingdom are expansive.

Each member of the church is commissioned to “…speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world” (D&C 1:20).

Mormon explained that the church Christ established among his people did this by regularly speaking, “…one with another concerning the welfare of their souls” (Mormon 6:5). With salvation at stake, we ought to be less concerned about facts and philosophies, and more attentive to doctrine and principles.

The very best gospel teachers do not impart of their own knowledge, rather, they lead out in a group revelatory experience. I have found that the following principles help to this end.

jesus-teaching

Invite.

“What are you going to do because of what you learned today?”

I have established four rules for all of my classes.

First, I invite that the class prepare. As a teacher, this means feasting on the word, becoming an expert in the text or topic, inasmuch as this is possible.

Second, I invite Read Full Post

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Karate Kid Perspective on Ordinances

For those who have seen the original Karate Kid movie you’re probably familiar with the famous “wax on, wax off” lesson that Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel. I like the updated version of this lesson presented in the new Karate Kid movie starring Jackie Chan. You might be wondering what this has to do with ordinances – bear with me.

In the first scene, Dre (updated Daniel) enthusiastically approaches Mr. Han (updated Miyagi) and begins by trying to show Mr. Han how “good” he is and what “skills” he already possesses. Go ahead and watch this first clip:

Do we approach God thinking that we have it all figured out? Are we overly-impressed with our own wisdom and skill like Dre who felt like he had to validate himself somehow to Mr. Han? There is a verse in the Book of Mormon that I think is related to this idea:

“And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.” (2 Nephi 9:42)

It is easier to fill an empty vessel than a full one. Are we willing to make ourselves that vulnerable? Are we willing to sell all that we have acquired for the pearl of great price?

Dre thinks that Mr. Han is going to show him all these incredible kung fu moves, but Mr. Han has him do a seemly mundane task over and over again. Dre responds almost immediately with frustration, Read Full Post

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What are Doctrines, Principles & Applications?

doctrines-principles-applications

Ever find yourself thinking “I’m not quite sure I really know the definition of that word”? If not, then you are amazing and I applaud you.

I’ve found it to be valuable to quiz yourself continually as to your knowledge concerning the meanings of words. Here on oneClimbs, I’ve written a few articles trying to clarify common misconceptions about the meanings of certain words. Don’t even get me started on Latter-day Saints use of the word “peculiar“. Understanding the true meanings of words will often bring refreshing insights that are hidden behind a veil of misconception.

A few days ago, I was discussing a particular study method with a friend and one step in the process wasRead Full Post

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An Experience With Homemade Sacrament Bread by Sandra Clark Jergensen

By Sandra Clark Jergensen, originally posted under the title “Bread” at Segullah.org.

bread

Last Sunday, as I was sliding into a pew in time for sacrament meeting, one of the ward leaders motioned me over. Did I have any bread at home? Well, do they say ya’ll in Texas? Of course I did, I always do. There was no bread for the sacrament, and could I run home and get some? I did. I rushed home, grabbed the loaf in the cupboard and got back to the church with my bread. That loaf was one of my prized recipes, a 100% whole wheat loaf made with wheat that I ground and buttermilk I cultured myself. And because I don’t have a grinder, I am currently using my blender and sieve; it takes a little extra time, but how else am I to use the small silo of wheat in my house? It is good bread. And good bread is worth it to me. And oh, I do so love good bread. The crackly crust and chewy crumb of a perfect loaf is heaven to me.

I can’t extend that same love to all bread. It may seem sacrilege that even think of it, but the often cheap, plastic-sleeved bread typically brought in each week for the sacrament at church is hard for me to swallow. The token to remember Christ is most often chemically preserved, bleached and bromated bread, and a bit of a distraction for me. I have to choose to stop thinking about it—is that bad? I know what D&C 27:2 says, but I still feel that when it is something that has substance in my life, shouldn’t the bread that symbolized it have some as well? Should the bread we use for the sacrament matter; or am I overthinking this one?

Back to that Sabbath morning. I got back to church Read Full Post

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“Let Them Govern Themselves” by Boyd K. Packer

I’m a fan of Boyd K. Packer. Behind that gravely-sounding voice is a fascinating mind that has provided some powerful insights and refreshing commentary on the latter-day work and Church. Currently, I’m serving as an elders quorum president in my ward and one of the biggest challenges I have been facing is how to bless the lives of families without burdening them with well-intentioned programs and what not.

I’m not a fan of programs and meetings. Although I believe that they can be necessary at times, I also believe that we create monsters that do the opposite of help. I see a similarity between how a country drifts into tyranny because of a bunch of well-intentioned politicians who try to solve every problem with new programs and tons of money and well-intentioned church leaders who dream up bloated programs that burden families and almost never work.

So I really appreciated this rather frank and sensible talk from Elder Packer that was given at a Regional Representatives Seminar Friday, March 30, 1990 (original source). What I did was pull out some of the highlights that I found most interesting and included them below. If you serve in any leadership capacity in the church, this address is an important read, so here it is…Read Full Post

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Why Change is So Hard

I came across this short video over at LeadingLDS.com that attributes a lack of desire for change to exhaustion rather than laziness in some cases. The guy makes a fairly reasonable argument, but I’m not quite sure that laziness and exhaustion are really that different. Perhaps if we address what is similar about the two and figure out how to overcome the root problem, we will find solutions that work for us.

Laziness and Exhaustion vs. Vision and Remembrance

Although this second video is titled “How to Overcome Laziness in 4 Steps”, I am curious if the same principles apply to exhaustion. I don’t know that I am convinced that laziness is really that different from exhaustion, the point is that you are just simply not motivated. Feeling a lack of motivation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we are mortal beings, we get tired and are prone to habitual behavior.

Still, we are told to put off the natural man and this is one of the key purposes of this life but how do we do this? I found the simple advice in the video below to be insightful and right in line with what we could find in scripture, especially the part about vision.

We read in Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” so maybe vision is the key and remembering that vision in times of weakness is the lock that together with the key, opens the door to self-mastery.

These articles may provide further insight:

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Through the Veil: Pondering the Temple Experience Through Scripture

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I’m excited to announce the official publication of a little temple-related project that I’ve been working on. It all began with this idea: “What would it look like if you reconstructed the temple experience purely from scripture alone?”

As I pondered this idea, I realized how valuable something like this could be for people preparing to receive their endowment the first time. It would essentially be a primer to study both before and after an individual’s temple experience. So much of the temple experience is right there in the scriptures anyway but many people don’t seem to realize it. For some, it takes years of study and searching to make certain connections that give context to the purpose of temple blessings.

The culmination of these thoughts has led to the production of a 14-page document that I have titled: “Through the Veil: Pondering the Temple Experience Through Scripture”. I have done my best to preserve the sacredness of the temple while providing a study tool (with wide margins for making notes) that can serve as a fantastic temple prep resource.

This document, which has existed for a year as just a list of scriptures, has apparently been helpful enough to certain individuals that I think making it available here at oneClimbs could bless the lives of many more people, even those that have attended the temple for years.

I offer this document freely to anyone to use or share however they see fit (no permission necessary).

Click here to Download the .pdf version of “Through the Veil”

Deutsch (German) “Durch den Schleier” (Translation by Sebastian B.)

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