I really loved this talk. I like most talks from Dallin H. Oaks because he doesn’t share a lot of touchy-feely stories, he sticks to the doctrine. One of my favorite quotes is “great leaders kill ambiguity” from Scott Belsky the founder of Behance and Oaks is a great leader.
“Modern revelation defines truth as a “knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24). That is a perfect definition for the plan of salvation and “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
This is such a powerhouse statement and it is worth reading in reverse; the Proclamation is part of the plan of salvation and the truth of how things are, were, and are to come. On the contrary, the world is wrong about a lot of things; they are, they were, and they will be in the future.Read Full Post
“If it hasn’t happened to you—it should.”  That’s what President Ezra Taft Benson had to say about the changing of the human heart and being born of God.
I would argue that if this has not happened in your life, then it should rise immediately to the top of your priority list. You may shrug this off thinking that you have been born of God, but have you? You may shrug this off because deep down you know you have not been but admitting it may make you feel foolish.
Maybe you have been an active member of the LDS church all of your life and you thought you had your bases covered because you’ve participated in all of the ordinances of the gospel. You take your covenant seriously and honestly seek to align your will with God’s.
“…behold, I ask of you, my brethren [and sisters] of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” 
I don’t ask this question to draw out doubts but to increase faith. I’ve observed my fellow saints for years and I have met many that have been born of God and many more who have not. I see people struggle with faith crisis and all manner of difficulties in this world that would be eased or erased if they had been born of God and known of his love and power.
The Lectures on Faith teach clearly that unless members of God’s church “…have an actual knowledge that the course that they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint; … for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind; and where doubt and uncertainty is, there faith is not, nor can it be.” 
If you have not yet been born of God, then your sins have not been forgiven and you have no salvation; that’s not my opinion.Read Full Post
I was reading the words that Helaman taught to his sons, Nephi and Lehi and noticed some potential patterns. Helaman appears to have taught many things to his sons but we only have a few of these words recorded in Helaman 5:6-12. Whether these patterns were intended or not is unknown. Literary patterns breathe life into mere words by incorporating techniques that produce vivid imagery and emotional effects. Chiasmus is a tool used to draw attention to a particular point or theme and there appears to be some use of it by Helaman.
Usually when I see a word repeated many times or patterns of identical or contrasting text I stop and widen my scope to see if there is a pattern and how far it extends. It certainly causes me to spend more time with a particular section of text whether or not any legitimate literary patterns are being used or not. We don’t know for sure what the author was thinking and some of these patterns may just be coincidental. Nevertheless, they can provide an interesting way of playing with the text and examining the message.Read Full Post
At the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith offered a prayer he received by revelation, “Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles.” (D&C 109:60) The Latter-day Saints are identified with the Gentiles.
In order for the Gentiles to be saved the must do three things:
- Fight not against Zion
- Do not unite themselves to that great and abominable church.
“…for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children; and for this cause the prophet has written these things.” – 2 Nephi 6:12
“The Greek word of which this is the translation denotes a change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world. Since we are born into conditions of mortality, repentance comes to mean a turning of the heart and will to God, and a renunciation of sin to which we are naturally inclined. Without this there can be no progress in the things of the soul’s salvation, for all accountable persons are stained by sin and must be cleansed in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Repentance is not optional for salvation; it is a commandment of God…” LDS Bible Dictionary
Q: How do we as Latter-day Saints unintentionally miss out on true repentance?Read Full Post
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?
Read Full Post
Forgiveness is the loudest praise, repentance, the greatest peace.
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
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 argumentRead Full Post
I really enjoyed this quote from George MacDonald about forgiveness:
“…unforgivingness to our neighbour; the shutting of him out from our mercies, from our love—so from the universe, as far as we are a portion of it—the murdering therefore of our neighbour. It may be an infinitely less evil to murder a man than to refuse to forgive him. The former may be the act of a moment of passion: the latter is the heart’s choice. It is spiritual murder, the worst, to hate, to brood over the feeling that excludes, that, in our microcosm, kills the image, the idea of the hated. We listen to the voice of our own hurt pride or hurt affection (only the latter without the suggestion of the former, thinketh no evil) to the injury of the evil-doer. In as far as we can, we quench the relations of life between us; we close up the passages of possible return. This is to shut out God, the Life, the One. For how are we to receive the forgiving presence while we shut out our brother from our portion of the universal forgiveness, the final restoration, thus refusing to let God be All in all? If God appeared to us, how could he say, “I forgive you,” while we remained unforgiving to our neighbour?” – MacDonald, George (2012-05-17). Unspoken Sermons Series I., II., and II. (Kindle Locations 569-576).
This reminds me of something a mentor of mine once said, “To deny forgiveness is to burn the bridge over which you too must pass.” I am confident that it was my offering unconditional forgiveness to one particular person who had hurt me that opened the world of God’s redemption and light into my life.
MacDonald insightfully points out that as we ourselves constitute a portion of this universe, by denying forgiveness in our little corner of it, we selfishly and impossibly attempt to place limitations on the infinite atonement. By doing so we make forgiveness for ourselves an impossibility, after all, Jesus himself said:
“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:15 NIV)
When it comes to forgiveness, according to musician Matthew West, the prisoner that it really frees is you (song is available on Spotify and iTunes).
To truly forgive, one does not just cease their hatred, offense, or unkind feelings toward another, no, it must blossom into a true and genuine love toward the offender.
A passing-by of the offence might spring from a poor human kindness, but never from divine love. It would not be remission. Forgiveness can never be indifference. Forgiveness is love towards the unlovely. – MacDonald, George (2012-05-17). Unspoken Sermons Series I., II., and II. (Kindle Locations 534-536).
I love the story of Elisha and the servant when they were surrounded by the Aramean army.
Early the next morning, when the servant of the man of God arose and went out, he saw the force with its horses and chariots surrounding the city. “Alas!” he said to Elisha. “What shall we do, my lord?” Elisha answered, “Do not be afraid. Our side outnumbers theirs.” Then he prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes, that he may see.” And the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw that the mountainside was filled with fiery chariots and horses around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17 NASB)
When we can know and see what God knows and sees, we can change. I believe that this is where true repentance leads. I think that we can have a twisted idea of what repentance really is. We think it is just feeling bad about something, saying we’re sorry, confessing if needed, and then trying hard to never do it again. The Bible dictionary defines repentance as:
The Greek word of which this is the translation denotes a change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world.
The fruit of repentance is change; a deep, fundamental and complete change influenced by direct experience with God. You see things differently because you have beenRead Full Post
Back in 2011, I wrote a post about the Word of Wisdom. I had some things that were bothering me personally and decided to face them head on. I did a lot of study and research combined with soul-searching and prayer and out of all that came some powerful insights that propelled me down an unexpected, and to be honest, undesired path.
I’ve written a little about that back-story recently but now I’d like to share some things I have learned since then. While you may not agree with some of the conclusions I have come to, I think there are still some principles that are universal in nature.
First I’d like to emphasize the importance of not becoming a judgmental fascist because of your particular views. Next, are some other interesting and unexpected ideas that unfolded to me over time. Finally, I’d like to share some pictures of some of the tasty meals I prepare, because if there is anything I love as much as symbolism, it’s cooking!
Don’t be a Nazi
The revelation we know as D&C 89 was, “To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint,” so I’ve never felt that it was right to shame, scold, force, command or constrain my interpretations in any way upon those who apply the principle of D&C 89 differently than I do. I believe that doing so violates the spirit in which the revelation was given.
I’m all too aware (and maybe you are too) of those that are passionateRead Full Post
I’ve been observing two things (one good and one bad) being conflated into a single topic and then dismissed altogether. This is much like the proverbial baby being thrown out with the bath water and I want to take a shot at expressing my thoughts about it.
In one way, I see a true principle under attack by its meaning being diluted and reassigned to something negative, the final effect being that the principle itself and it’s true meaning are frowned upon.
I’m talking about the word perfection.Read Full Post
And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? … And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?
Many sit in the restaurant socializing without ever taking advantage of the feast, and it appears that this has always been an issue. Membership and association is not nor will it ever be conversion and salvation. I see far too many members of the Church bickering, blaming, and complaining over superficial things concerning their fellow saints. Why are we so impatient with those that are closest to us? While frustration is the easiest reaction, it is a corrosive attitude to sustain.
If faith and repentance are the first principles of the gospel (Article of Faith 4), perhaps forgiveness and patience are the 3rd and 4th principles. As we struggle along our own paths, may we remember that others are doing the same. As we ascend to higher vistas of understanding, may we remember how lowly our own prior perspectives once were. Every time we grow impatient with another, remember the hundreds or thousands of times that others were patient with us.
Many claim to follow Christ and forget where that path leads. Hint: it isn’t one free of sacrifice, betrayal, offense, abuse, ridicule, contempt, false accusations, and crucifixion. The atonement provided us the opportunity to change, to receive the Mind of God, but we still must suffer each other.
Jesus once told a parable about two debtors. The first debtor owed the king 10,000 talents, but when the time came to pay up, he didn’t have the ability to. The king commanded that this debtor’s whole family and property were to be sold to pay the debt. But when the servant pleaded for more time to pay, the king had compassion and forgave the entire debt. Nice king.
A little later, this same debtor went out to find a man who owed him money. He took him by the throat and demanded payment for the 100 pence he was owed. This man begged for more time to pay but was instead thrown into prison.
Well the king found out about all this and wasn’t too happy, he delivered this debtor over to “tormenters” until he was able to pay everything he owed.
So that’s the story, but it doesn’t really hit home unless you have an idea of what kinds of monetary sums we are dealing with here.
The second debtor owed the first one 100 pence. Back then, 1 pence was about a day’s wage or roughly $180 in today’s dollarsRead Full Post
I have put the words that I believe are related directly to the divine Mother motif in ALL CAPS AND BOLD. The following verses in this article area all connected to each other and certain key points have been emphasized.
I encourage you to open your scriptures and take the time to ponder them in context and look for other connections because they are everywhere.
The Tree and the Virgin
1 Nephi 11:7
which bore the fruit
which thy father tasted
1 Nephi 11:8
I looked and beheld a TREE
the beauty was far beyond
yea, exceeding of all beauty
and the whiteness thereof
did exceed the whiteness
of the driven snow
1 Nephi 11:13
I beheld a VIRGIN and she was
exceedingly fair & white
1 Nephi 11:15
A VIRGIN most beautiful and fair
above all other VIRGINS
1 Nephi 11:18
the VIRGIN which thou seest is the
MOTHER of god after the manner of the flesh [original manuscript & 1830 edition]
1 Nephi 11:20
I beheld the VIRGIN again
bearing a child in her arms (vs.7 – tree which bore the fruit)
1 Nephi 11:21
knowest thous the meaning of the TREE?
Note that the tree itself (not the fruit) and the virgin are both ‘exceedingly’ beautiful/fair and white (another word for pure). The virgin and the tree are synonymous but that isRead Full Post
If you look up repentance in a Webster’s 1828 Dictionary (the fifth “standard work”):
2. In theology, the pain, regret or affliction which a person feels on account of his past conduct, because it exposes him to punishment. This sorrow proceeding merely from the fear of punishment, is called legal repentance, as being excited by the terrors of legal penalties, and it may exist without an amendment of life.
3. Real penitence; sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God, a violation of his holy law, and the basest ingratitude towards a Being of infinite benevolence. This is called evangelical repentance, and is accompanied and followed by amendment of life.
Repentance is a change of mind, or a conversion from sin to God.
Let’s define evangelical:
1. According to the gospel; consonant to the doctrines and precepts of the gospel, published by Christ and his apostles; as evangelical righteousness, obedience or piety.
Seriously, I don’t know how any Latter-day Saint gets by without the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. It’s rare that I ever open the scriptures and not refer to it at least once.
Here’s the online version I’ll use when on my laptop: http://webstersdictionary1828.com/
And here’s the app I use on my iPhone: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/1828/id483256257?mt=8
“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of [an] army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Came across the quote from a guest post by Kurt Francom of LeadingLDS on This Week in Mormons: http://thisweekinmormons.com/2014/02/sin-make-stronger/
Recently, I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting with my wife on the subject of loving others by sharing the gospel. I thought posting the talk here might be beneficial to someone out there. I attempted to make the point that sharing the gospel is not an end in itself, but a byproduct of personal conversion. So instead of trying to persuade people to share the gospel, I attempted to persuade them to find the love of God and their own redemption. Perhaps many could have done a much better job at this, but it was the best I could do and I know the Spirit of the Lord can do great things through weakness.
“Share the Gospel” what does that mean? We say it a lot and perhaps it means different things to different people.
First what is the Gospel? If someone came up to you and asked “What is the gospel?” How would you define it? Could you define it?
Defining the Gospel
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, …
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 1 Cor 15:1-10
Then Jesus proclaimed to the Nephites:
“Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you–that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross…” 3 Nephi 27:13-14
The Lord again to his Saints:
“And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us–That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, …That through him all might be saved…” Doctrine and Covenants 76:40-42
As a bonus, how about a fourth witness, you’ve probably heard this one from Joseph Smith:
“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the apostles and prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”
Sometimes when we say “the gospel” we tend to just lump everything in there, but scripturallyRead Full Post
When I was bored in middle and high school (which was very common) I would often read dictionaries, which sounds boring, but I loved discovering new words and ideas. When I was a teenager, I read and studied the entire Bible Dictionary and it provided me with greater knowledge and enlightenment that I had ever achieved up to that point in my life.
The Bible Dictionary is a sealed book to many Latter-day Saints because I suspect that few have ever read it or really delved into the great stuff that’s there.
There are two definitions of the Bible Dictionary that have impacted my life more than any others: the section on prayer and the section on repentance. As the years have gone by, I have realized how powerfully interconnected these two principles are as I have come to understand the doctrines they are built upon.
I’m going to share the small excerpts from the full definitions that I think everyone can really benefit from!
We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him.(Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 2:8)
Came across this quote in Elder Bednar’s latest book Power to Become, the third in a trilogy of really great books.
There are so many wonderful concepts in this one quote. I’m not going to attempt to provide any commentary on it because I think that a good 20 minutes of pondering these words is sufficient for the Spirit to open your mind to more wonderful things.
I can tell I’m going to like Power to Become, I’m only 20 pages in and I’m quite impressed with the boldness of the doctrine Bednar is laying down. I’ll have to do a full review later, but the first 20 pages alone are more than worth the purchase of this book.