Plan of Salvation

Jun 26, 2011
4 min read
 

Video: Joseph Smith’s Last Dream

From the YouTube description:

“Few people know this story….Two days before his martyrdom, Joseph Smith told W. W. Phelps about a prophetic dream he had a few night prior. W. W. Phelps did not publish the account until 1862, but when he did, he titled it: “Joseph Smith’s Last Dream.””

It’s hard to tell the accuracy of some things that come from individuals many years after they were purported to happen. In my opinion, W.W. Phelps is probably a pretty accurate source for something like this, but I suppose we’ll never really know for sure.

There are incidents from my past that I don’t remember very well and others that I remember flawlessly. I remember extremely detailed experiences from when I was six years old, but events like those were things that happened to me. I find that I have a much more difficult time remembering specific things that people told me from years back.

I can think of a handful of experiences that were life changing for me where I remember about 80% of what was said and what I remember definitely captures the spirit of what was being said.

I think that it’s likely that W.W. Phelps recorded something very similar to what Joseph said although it might not be word-for-word. So for what it’s worth, the video below portrays very well the account that Bro. Phelps left us with.

Full text of the dream

Link to Seth Adam Smith’s Blog

“While I was at Jordan’s in Iowa the other night, I dreamed that myself and my brother Hyrum went on board of a large steamboat, lying in a small bay, near the great ocean. Shortly after we went on board there was an “alarm of fire,” and I discovered that the boat had been anchored some distance from the shore, out in the bay, and that an escape from the fire, in the confusion, appeared hazardous; but, as delay was folly, I and Hyrum jumped overboard, and tried our faith at walking upon the water.

At first we sank in the water nearly to our knees, but as we proceeded we increased in faith, and were soon able to walk upon the water. On looking towards the burning boat in the east, we saw that it was drifting towards the wharf and the town, with a great flame and clouds of smoke; and, as if by whirlwind, the town was taking fire, too, so that the scene of destruction and horror of the frightened inhabitants was terrible.

We proceeded on the bosom of the mighty deep and were soon out of sight of land. The ocean was still; the rays of the sun were bright, and we forgot all the troubles of our Mother Earth. Just at that moment I heard the sound of a human voice, and, turning round, saw my brother Samuel H. approaching towards us from the east. We stopped and he came up. After a moment’s conversation he informed me that he had been lonesome back, and had made up his mind to go with me across the mighty deep.

We all started again, and in a short time were blest with the first sight of a city, whose gold and silver steeples and towers were more beautiful than any I had ever seen or heard of on earth. It stood, as it were, upon the western shore of the mighty deep we were walking on, and its order and glory seemed far beyond the wisdom of man. While we were gazing upon the perfection of the city, a small boat launched off from the port, and, almost as quick as thought, came to us. In an instant they took us on board and saluted us with a welcome, and with music such as is not on earth. The next scene, on landing, was more than I can describe: the greeting of old friends, the music from a thousand towers, and the light of God himself at the return of three of his sons, soothed my soul into a quiet and a joy that I felt as if I was truly in heaven. I gazed upon the splendor; I greeted my friends, I awoke, and lo, it was a dream!

While I meditated upon such a marvelous scene, I fell asleep again, and behold I stood near the shore of the burning boat, and there was a great consternation among the officers, crew and passengers of the flaming craft, as there seemed to be much ammunition or powder on board. The alarm was given that the fire was near the magazine, and in a moment, suddenly, it blew up with a great noise, and sank in deep water with all on board. I then turned to the country east, among the bushy openings, and saw William and Wilson Law endeavoring to escape from the wild beasts of the forest, but two lions rushed out of a thicket and devoured them. I awoke again.”

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Jun 5, 2011
12 min read
 

Thoughts on the Origins of the Universe, God and our Existence

Take a look at this image up above. With the exception of a few closer stars in our own galaxy that are white or orange in appearance, every blob or speck of light you see further off in this photo is an entire galaxy, each containing billions of stars that are each trillions of miles apart from one another. Now keep in mind that a telescope had to zoom so far out to capture this photo that it probably represents a pin-prick of space in the night sky from our vantage point.

If you like stuff like this be sure to check out the 360 view of our galaxy here:
LINK TO SKYSURVEY.ORG

Reflections on the “official explanation”

One of the most common theories about the origins of the universe has to do with a big bang which ends up spinning off an infinitesimal amount of gargantuan systems of stars, planets and other celestial bodies on which appear, of course, dinosaurs. Yes my tongue was somewhat in my cheek there, but it does sound just as ridiculous as any other other theory, just like the idea that a God created everything sounds ridiculous to some people.

I’ve often wondered though about the whole Big Bang concept, first of all, the premise is flawed because there would not have been a ‘bang’ in the first place since sound cannot travel in the vacuum of space.

But seriously now, before the said ‘bang’ there had to exist at least three elementsRead Full Post

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May 20, 2011
0 min read
 

Video: My Heavenly Father Loves Me

My Heavenly Father Loves Me

Words and Music by Clara W. McMaster, b. 1904

Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by a lilac tree,
I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heavenly Father created for me.

He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him reverently
For all his creations, of which I’m a part.
Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.

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Dec 27, 2010
6 min read
 

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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Nov 29, 2010
4 min read
 

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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Nov 8, 2010
21 min read
 

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

2 Comments
Nov 1, 2010
6 min read
 

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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2 Comments
Oct 3, 2010
26 min read
 

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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Sep 20, 2010
33 min read
 

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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