Saturday, February 28, 2009

O, Divine Redeemer- Neal A Maxwell

"No member of this Church must ever forget the terrible price paid by our Redeemer, who gave his life that all men might live- the agony of Gethsemane, the bitter mockery of His trial, the vicious crown of thorns tearing at His flesh, the blood cry of the mob before Pilate, the lonely burden of His heavy walk along the way to Calvary, the terrifying pain as great nails pierced His hands and feet...

We cannot for that. We must never forget it, for here our Savior, our Redeemer, the Son of God, gave Himself, a vicarious sacrifice for each of us."
Gordon B. Hinckley

"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."
Joseph Smith

Friday, February 27, 2009

Prayer and Scripture Study, Your Personal Liahona

On October 2, 2004 Elder David A. Bednar was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Because Elder Bednar was the scheduled general authority to attend our Stake Conference we, the Murrieta Stake, were privileged to have been the first conference Elder Bednar presided over as a newly called Apostle. This experience, though nearly five years ago, still stays fresh on my mind. Perhaps Elder Bednar will always have a place in my heart simply because of that experience.

In the Saturday evening adult session of conference we were honored to be instructed by Elder Bednar on the importance of prayer and scripture study. He compared the act of prayer to the Liahona that Lehi and his family used for guidance as they journeyed through the wilderness. The Book of Mormon prophet Alma also used the example of the Liahona as he was teaching his son of the importance of following the words of Christ.

Alma 37: 43 And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.

44 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.

45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.

46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.

Elder Bednar compared the first spindle on the Liahona to the act of prayer, and he compared the second one to the scriptures, or doctrine of Christ. These two actions done with faith can be the directors we need in our everyday lives.

When we want to speak to the Lord we pray, when we want to get an answer we read. The scriptures allow us to actually hear the voice of the Lord.

D&C 18:34 These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify they are of me and not of man;

35 For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power you could not have them;

36 Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words.

Elder Bednar still testifies of the power of prayer today. Enjoy this video!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Miracle of a Change of Heart

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said this about miracles, “Many miracles happen everyday in the work of the Church and in the lives of our members. Many of you have witnessed miracles, perhaps more than you realize.”

I believe there are miracles all around us, and we simply do not take time to recognize them.

President Spencer W. Kimball stated, “We do have miracles today- beyond imagination! What kinds of miracles do we have? All kinds- revelations, visions, tongues, healings, special guidance and direction, evil spirits cast out. Where are they recorded? In the records of the Church, in journals, in news and magazine articles and in the minds and memories of people.”

Miracles played a very large part in the establishing of the LDS Church upon the earth in these latter days. In the records of the early church history, miracles are recorded as happening very frequently. I have had many a student ask me, “Why don’t we hear about those kinds of miracles today?” Elder Oaks explained three possibilities:

  • Most of the miracles we experience are not to be shared.It is only when the spirit prompts us to share that we do so.
  • Miracles may be given for YOUR profit and salvation.
  • Always remember signs follow those that believe first.

Brigham Young stated, “Miracles, or these extraordinary manifestations of the power of God, are not for the unbeliever; they are to console the saints, and to strengthen and confirm the faith of those who love, fear, and serve God, and not for outsiders.”

The scriptures are replete with stories of people who had been converted through signs and wonders who soon forgot them. They again became susceptible to the lies and distortions of Satan and his servants.

In Helaman 16:23 we read about the people during that time:

“And notwithstanding the signs and the wonders which were wrought among the people of the Lord, and the many miracles which they did, Satan did get great hold upon the hearts of the people upon all the face of the land.”

Therefore, Elder Oaks suggests that the greatest miracle of all that can be experienced is “the mighty change of heart by a son or daughter of God.”

“A change of heart including new attitudes, priorities, and desires, is greater and more important than any miracle involving the body. I repeat, the body will be resurrected in any event, but a change affecting what the scriptures call the ‘heart’ of a spirit son or daughter of God is a change whose effect is eternal.”

This simple change of heart can open the door to repentance allowing us to become clean enough to dwell with God. It introduces perspectives and priorities that lead us to make choices that qualify us for Eternal Life. Is it any wonder that the Lord requires a willing heart?

This great miracle of a change of heart is brought about by faith in Jesus Christ, unto spiritual rebirth and is the way we become sons and daughters of Jesus Christ. That is a great miracle indeed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tracing Your Priesthood Line of Authority

A few years ago, soon after my father-in-law passed away, my husband had some questions regarding his priesthood line of authority. In an attempt to find some answers, my husband wrote to Salt Lake and requested that they send him his line of authority. When he received the information, a letter of explanation was included that cleared up some misunderstandings that we had concerning which priesthood line should be considered his line of authority. I thought I would post this letter for those who might have similar questions.

The First Presidency recently directed that efforts begin to officially record priesthood line of authority information for selected offices in the Melchizedek Priesthood. Priesthood line of authority will be traced for:

  • Melchizedek Priesthood conferral (usually ordination to the office of elder)
  • Ordination to the office of high priest

Though ordinations to the office of seventy may be included in the above priesthood lines of authority, no separate line of authority is maintained for the office of seventy. Ordained bishops and patriarchs trace their priesthood line of authority through their high priest ordination. Priesthood line of authority is not recorded for Aaronic Priesthood offices.

When ordaining others to offices in the Melchizedek Priesthood, priesthood line of authority is determined by the priesthood office you hold at the time you perform the ordination. The following example will help explain.

EXAMPLE: If you were an elder when you ordained your first son an elder, your first son will always trace his elder line of authority through your elder line of authority. If you were a high priest when you ordained your second son an elder, your second son will always trace his elder line of authority through your high priest line of authority.

Once you have your line of authority:

  • Share it with your family
  • Give a copy to those whom you have ordained or will ordain
  • Record it in your personal history

This information cleared up some questions we had concerning which line of authority my husband was to follow. He was ordained an Elder by his father and a High Priest by mine.

Because of the rapid growth of the church, the recording of a priesthood line of authority is no longer part of your church membership records. The responsibility of obtaining and recording a priesthood line of authority now solely rests on the individual. Make sure you have obtained and recorded your priesthood line of authority from the person who was authorized to bestow the priesthood on you. This is an important bit of information for you and your posterity.

Do you know your priesthood line of authority?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our Body Is Made Up Of Unredeemed Earth

When my son was preparing his lesson for Priesthood last week he came across this talk that is completely awesome. It was originally given by Melvin J. Ballard in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on May 5, 1928, but has since been republished as a Classic Discourse in the New Era. It is titled, Struggle For The Soul.

I have always felt that the struggle we have is that of being a divided man. Our spirit, which is perfect by lineage, is in constant conflict with our body, which is of the earth or natural. Becoming a Zion people, that of one heart and one mind, takes on a deeper meaning to me as it is applied to this thought. The one heart and one mind we must accomplish is the reconciliation of our body and our spirit, to the mind and will of our Father.

Elder Ballard addresses this concept beautifully as he makes a reference to our bodies as “unredeemed earth”.

He explains, “All the assaults that the enemy of our souls will make to capture us will be through the flesh, because it is made up of the unredeemed earth, and he has power over the elements of the earth. The approach he makes to us will be through the lusts, the appetites, the ambitions of the flesh. All the help that comes to us from the Lord to aid us in this struggle will come to us through the spirit that dwells within this mortal body. So these two mighty forces are operating upon us through these two channels.”

Elder Ballard then suggested that we think “of spirit and body as ‘me’ and ‘it.’ ‘Me’ is the individual who dwells in this body, who lived before I had such a body, and who will live when I step out of the body. ‘It’ is the house I live in, the tabernacle of flesh and the great conflict is between ‘me’ and ‘it’. …

“Our weak [point] is in the flesh … and when [the devil] undertakes to capture a soul he will strike at the weak point. …

“It is not bodies, it is immortal spirits that the devil wants. And he tries to capture them through the body, for the body can enslave the spirit, but the spirit can keep the body a servant and be its master.”

Another point to ponder upon this same subject might be that perhaps the “unredeemed earth” that made up the bodies of Adam and Eve are the exact thing that gave Satan the ability to be in the Garden in the first place.

Anybody have any thoughts on this possibility?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Do You Believe In Miracles?

A few years ago while I was teaching a Seminary class I made the ultimate blunder and asked the kids if they wanted to share a miracle that they had seen in their life. One of the boys proceeded to tell me about a really incredible catch that some baseball player on a major league team made that was an “impossible feat” and as the sports announcer called it “a miracle”, he was sure that is exactly what it was. This answer totally caught me off guard. What ensued from there was a personal study of what exactly miracles are.

I decided to look at what our church leaders would term “a miracle” and found a really great talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, simply titled “Miracles”. I would recommend this reading for anyone who has questions about miracles.

Some of my observations from my study of miracles are as follows:

The first thing I learned that one definition of a miracle is “a beneficial event brought about through divine power that mortals do not understand and of themselves cannot duplicate.”

Do miracles exist today?

“To deny the reality of miracles on the ground that the results and manifestations must be fictitious simply because we cannot comprehend the means by which they have happened is arrogant on the face of it.” Howard W. Hunter

Elder Neal A. Maxwell termed those who deny miracles as “the anti-miracle mind set”, a group that Nephi prophesied would be present in the last days.

The word “miracle” is used in many different ways:

1) Some say any happening they cannot explain is a miracle. For example some would call a computer a miracle. The “catch” that my friend in seminary referred to might fit this category as well.

2) Tricks that some magicians and religious practitioners stage may be termed “miracles.” I loved a statement that Elder Oaks made when he cautioned “When we exaggerate a happening in order to dazzle an audience into thinking we have experienced a miracle or to enhance our stature in other ways” we are similar to those who perform at a religious revival. I believe this is referred to as teaching with sensationalism instead of allowing the spirit to reveal truth.

3) Many without authority will use the name of Jesus Christ to work what seem to be miracles, but pretenders are rejected of the Lord. (Matt. 7:22-23) This is a wonderful way to understand where the miracle comes from.

4) Not every miracle comes from God or mortal deception, some come from the adversary. Elder Oaks refers to Satan when he explained, “He will use these great powers to deceive, to give his corrupted copy of genuine miracles worked by the power of God.”

So does that mean that the priesthood must be used for any miracle to happen?

Genuine miracles can happen in two types of ways, both requiring faith:

1) Miracles worked by the power of the priesthood. God has provided the “means” through FAITH. (The means is the priesthood power.)

2) Genuine miracles worked through the power of faith, without specifically invoking the power of the priesthood also happen. These occur inside the church as well as outside. These miracles happen because of the prayers of the faithful.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie made this statement about faith, “Faith requires ‘assurance’ that God will hear our prayers and answer them. No person can have this assurance when he knows he is not living the way the Lord wants him to live. This is another key element in bringing about miracles. Faith requires repentance. Miracles require faith. So miracles require repentance. Therefore, faith and repentance (which result in righteous living) are the means by which miracles come into our lives.”

This illustration is so beautifully given when the prophet Joseph Smith, as a boy, exercised the power of repentance and expected a miracle as he prayed to know his standing before the Lord. What happened next was the miraculous visit from the angel Moroni, as recorded in the Joseph Smith History.

With this pattern set before us we can conclude, that what is needed in our lives to receive the miracles the Lord has in store for us, is simply given by the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood. The keys inherit in the restoration of that priesthood are stated in Section 13 of the Doctrine and Covenants. These keys have been turned to provide the doctrine of repentance, and of baptism, and the ministering of angels to be upon the earth again. Because of these keys it is by faith we can expect miracles in our lives everyday.

Do you believe in miracles?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

BYU Roundtable Discussions About The Doctrine & Covenants

BYU Broadcasting presents a program called Round Table Discussions that involves input from several scholars on an assigned topic. I was excited to find that the new 38 part series that has just been released is a discussion of the Doctrine & Covenants. If you have never had the opportunity to listen to these Roundtable Discussion programs, now is a great time to check them out!

Here is the link that will take you to the main page of the Roundtable Discussions on the Doctrine &Covenants.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Humor IntheDoghouse

I just couldn't help myself, after all I am IntheDoghouse ... I had to post this cartoon.

I ran across this BLOG this morning called The 9th Ward. I loved their sense of humor and artistic style. Perfect for a Friday post...Enjoy the day! Keep smiling!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Lord's Formula For Success

Society today places a lot of emphasis on being successful. There are “Self Help” organizations which offer classes and seminars everywhere you turn. Companies that are designed to improve your business or work place, by introducing new and improved ideas for success to you and your employees, have sprung up as well. This “self improvement” marketplace has become a multi million dollar industry; in fact, it is probably one of the few that are thriving even in our economy today.

Why do you think that is?

Perhaps people are simply looking for the best way to become successful and feel success.

Isn’t it interesting that in Section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord outlines a beautiful formula for success in just 145 words, and He offers it free of charge.

These ideas were taken from a wonderful talk by Sterling W. Sill.

1. The Faith Clause-You simply must have faith in the endeavor.
“Now behold a marvelous work is about to come forth...”

2. The Co-operation Clause-A cooperation of your efforts is required.
“serve Him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength...”

3. The Ambition Clause- Make it your hearts desire.
“Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye all called to the work.”

4. The Opportunity Clause- Make sure it is achievable or attainable.
“For behold the field is white....”

5. The Concentration Clause- FOCUS
“...with an eye single...”

6. The Personal Qualities Clause-Develop personal gifts.
“Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence...”

7. Additional Instructions-Ask and Knock.

This formula is so universal it can be applied to any worthy work or endeavor you choose. The Lord has promised that this is the key to success, and His promises are sure!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pride and Wickedness

I have been pondering the meaning of wickedness lately. While I was studying Section 3, and also Section 10, I found the Lord refers to Martin Harris as a “wicked” man.

  • D&C 3:12 And when thou deliveredst up that which God had given thee sight and power to translate, thou deliveredst up that which was sacred into the hands of a wicked man.
  • D&C 10:1 Now, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them.

After having learned more about Martin Harris and the many sacrifices he made to move the work of the Lord forward, I had to wonder why the Lord decided to label Martin as wicked man at this point in his life.

What might have caused me to focus on “wicked” could be my recent study of the scripture in Malachi 4:1 which states, “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” The only two sins that are specifically mentioned are pride and wickedness.

First, let me explain my understanding of pride. Pride is putting your will ahead of the will of the Father. It is the supreme act of selfishness, and the unwillingness to sacrifice. It is in direct conflict with the first law of Heaven, obedience and sacrifice.

That got me thinking about wickedness, and what that actually means. In Section 3 the Lord explains some characteristics of wickedness in verse 13. He explains that one who is wicked “sets at naught the counsels of God”, “brakes sacred promises”, “depends on his own judgment”, and “boasts in his own strength.” Again, I feel that these can be a description of pride as well.

Could it be that pride and wickedness are synonymous?

It is interesting to me that wickedness and pride are the antithesis of obedience and sacrifice. It is also interesting to see that the protection we need from being found in the Telestial sphere, which will not abide the day of His coming and will be burned by His presence, is simply to live the first law that we covenant to live, that of obedience and sacrifice. The Law of Obedience and Sacrifice elevates us to a state that we can have claim on the promises made to the Fathers. We will be connected by the roots of our heritage, and the branches of our posterity as we instill righteous principles in the lives of those who follow after us.

After all, wickedness never was happiness. What do you think?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Do Not Become The Weakest Link

“You are a part of the great processes of God under which men and women have gone before you. All that you have of body and mind will be transmitted through you to the generations yet to come, and it is so important, so everlastingly important, my brothers and sisters, that you do not become a weak link in that chain of your generations.”
-Gordon B. Hinckley (Regional conference, Oahu, Hawaii, 23 January 2000)

“… You have all heard the adage that a chain is no stronger than its weakest link. It will break at its weak point. Generally we will observe that our weak link is in the flesh. The devil knows the weak link, and when he undertakes to capture a soul he will strike at the weak point. There may be strength elsewhere, but he never attacks us where we are strong. He attacks where we are weak. …
-Elder Melvin J. Ballard (address delivered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, 29 April 1928)

“I hope you could develop a strong feeling in your own families—and with you personally—about not wanting to become a weak link in the chain of your family and of your ancestors. I encourage you also to be a strong link for your posterity. Do not be the weak link. Wouldn’t that be a terrible thing to do? To think of that long chain and of all that work that needs to be done in the saving of souls and of the precious work that needs to be done, wouldn’t it be sad if you were the one who was the weak link that caused your descendants not to be able to be part of that strong linkage.”
David B. Haight, “Be a Strong Link,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 19–21

“Whether we descend from generations in the Church or are the first link in the generational chain, we have a responsibility to convey to our posterity a heritage of faith, manifest through our daily actions. Those who are newly converted members have a particularly great opportunity to become the pioneers for their ancestors and for their posterity... We must follow the lead of our beloved prophet, President Hinckley, who recently told the students at Ricks College: ‘To you I say with all of the energy of which I am capable, do not become a weak link in the chain of your generations. You come to the world with a marvelous inheritance. You come of great men and women. … Never let them down. Never do anything which would weaken the chain of which you are a fundamental part’ (Scroll, 14 Sept. 1999, 20). To me that means that we must do all in our power to ensure that we instill within our loved ones the great legacy of an abiding testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
-Stephen B. Oveson, “Our Legacy,” Ensign, Nov 1999, 29

Friday, February 13, 2009

Peer Pressure- Fear God More Than Man

In Section 3 of the Doctrine and Covenants we are taught a powerful lesson about “Peer Pressure”.

In this section the Lord reveals several different instances of peer pressure as He attempts to teach us to “fear God more than man.”

Martin Harris, who was acting as scribe for Joseph at this time, is the first example we see of one who was influenced by peer pressure, by way of his wife. I am sure that Martin's wife must have wondered why he would be spending time and money on something that she evidently could not understand. As one who always seems to play “Devils Advocate”, I am not so sure I would have reacted any different than Martins wife. Evidently she was giving Martin the “full court press” so to speak, about his “foolish” notions and wanted to see some results. Who could really blame her, right? She simply did not have a testimony of what Martin was doing. The question is, did Martin really have a testimony of what he was doing at this point?

How many times do we put our “testimony” on hold and bend to the wishes of those around us?

Joseph himself is another example of one who “feared man more than God.” The simple dynamics of his relationship with Martin is one that is very tentative at best. Martin, at least twenty years Joseph’s elder, was in a position to command respect, if for no other reason, because of his age. Martin also had the financial security that Joseph lacked, and was willing to help with the work when it seemed there were no others who would lend support. These factors must have been very influential in the decision Joseph made to petition the Lord three times with the question of allowing Martin to take the manuscript to appease his wife. Finally, both Joseph and Martin received the answer they wanted.

The result of bending to the demands of peer pressure was the loss the 116 pages of manuscript that had already been translated and a stringent rebuke from the Lord:

Doctrine and Covenants Section 3

1 The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.

2 For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.

3 Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;

4 For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.

5 Behold, you have been entrusted with these things, but how strict were your commandments; and remember also the promises which were made to you, if you did not transgress them.

6 And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men.

7 For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—

Joseph learned a very powerful lesson from this experience that shaped his character for the rest of his life. It acted to cement his convictions and dedication to the Lord and His work. Many more times throughout his life, Joseph would be confronted with pressure from those whom he loved and respected. The tangible memory of the result from his decision of fearing man more than God would be forever etched in his mind.

Peer pressure is a real problem for all of us. It is one that confronts each of us almost daily. What should we wear, what to watch on TV, what music we listen to...etc...etc... Many of our decisions are made because of the influence of others in our life. It takes strength and courage to take a stand and live as the Lord would have us live. It take courage to "fear God more than man." The promise that the Lord gives to all of us when confronted by peer pressure is both comforting and supportive.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 3

7 For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—

8 Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.

PRINCIPLE: If we fear God more than man, God will support us in every situation. Again, it is a restatement of that overarching promise of the Abrahamic Covenant. “I will be your God, you will be my people. Walk with me.”

Do you think we ever become immune to peer pressure? If so, how?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Planted in Our Hearts Doctrine and Covenants Section 2

John A Widstoe said, “The beginning and the end of the gospel is written in Section 2 of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is the keystone of the wonderful gospel arch; and if that center stone should fall out, the whole gospel structure would topple down in unorganized doctrinal blocks.”

The doctrine that is contained in Section 2 is so important it is repeated in some form in all of the four standard works.

Malachi 4:5-6
3 Nephi 25: 1-6
D&C 2: 1-3
JSH 1: 37-39

The priesthood of Elijah has been revealed or restored. The promises have once again been “planted” in our hearts. These promises must now take root and grow, producing the fruit that is necessary for the covenant to be fulfilled. This means that we are required to do the work that the Lord promised would be done, and that is to gather Israel. By doing this gathering, we will then be glorified, and the Lord will be glorified by us as well.

Just like every person before us, we were sent to this earth with a specific job to do. Let’s make sure we do it now!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Come What May And Love It- Joseph B. Wirthlin

Just wanted to share an excerpt from one of my favorite talks by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. A great talk by a great man called, Come What May and Love it.


Monday, February 9, 2009

History of Section 2 of The Doctrine and Covenants

Joseph Smith had suffered all manner of persecution after his report of the First Vision, especially by those who would have been considered the religious leaders in his area. Without the company of his former friends who “if they supposed (him) to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed (him)—(he) was left to all kinds of temptations and, mingling with all kinds of society, (he) frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, (he) was sorry to say, led (him) into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God.”

Without the proper influences in his life, Joseph Smith felt he had become guilty of levity and association with jovial company. Feeling that this was not the type of character befitting one who had been visited by God, Joseph felt inclined to call upon God to ask forgiveness for all of his sins and follies, and to understand his place or standing before Him. Praying with full confidence that his questions would be answered as they were before, Joseph discovered a light appearing in his room until it became a personage standing in the air beside him. This personage was Moroni, the last prophet of the Book of Mormon and the keeper of the plates.

The message that Moroni delivered to Joseph Smith is one of incredible consequence. It answered fully the questions that Joseph had posed to the Lord. A careful study of what was given to Joseph in response to his inquiry as to his standing before God, by way of scriptural references, shows the important part that Joseph would play in the coming forth of the gospel in this dispensation.

Malachi 3 and 4

Isaiah 11

Acts 3: 22-23

Joel 2: 28-32

In conclusion, it was three years after Joseph Smith received the First Vision that he again was visited by a Heavenly messenger and received the answer to his prayers once again and what we know today as Section 2 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Covenants The Lord Made With Our Fathers

Here is a list of Covenants that were made with our Fathers, allowing us to turn our hearts to them.

D&C 107:40-57

JST Genesis 14:26-31
Moses 7: 60, 62-63

JST Genesis 9:21-25
Moses 8: 1-3

Abraham 1:2-4
Abraham 2:9-10
Genesis 18:18-19
JST Genesis 22: 11-12
Genesis 22: 17-18

Genesis 17:19
Genesis 26:3-4

Genesis 28:3-4, 12-15

JST Genesis 50:24-38
2 Nephi 21

Deuteronomy 33:16-17 and many other chapters in Deuteronomy!

Ephraim and Manasseh
JST Genesis 48: 5-11

After seeing these beautiful promises, it is no wonder that Moroni told Joseph Smith that:

"He shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming."

These promises or covenants mean everything to us even today!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mormon Message on The Restoration from Elder L. Tom Perry

I am so grateful for Joseph Smith and his courage and faith. He was mocked and scorned because of his report to the world about this glorious truth that has been restored. After his First Vision he was ridiculed and persecuted.

From Joseph Smith's own account he related:

“I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.

It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.”

The Restoration was made possible through the sacrifice and dedication of this great prophet of God.

Praise to the Man! Millions will know Brother Joseph again!

Order and Ordinances

When this world was created, it was done so because of order.

“And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.” Abraham 4:18

When Christ established His church upon this earth with Father Adam, He did so with order.

“Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.” Doctrine and Covenants 132:8

Order is necessary to combat chaos.

In the Book of Mormon from the great sermon given by King Benjamin we learn,

Mosiah 4:27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

It seems very comfortable to me that the same Church that was established in the beginning with Adam, and renewed with every dispensation thereafter, would be one of order. It is not surprising to me then, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is one of order.

Ordinances are simply one way that Christ has ordered His Church and His people.

An ordinance is a sacred rite or ceremony performed by the power of the priesthood and intended to bless God’s children. Some ordinances, such as baptism, are essential for salvation. Other ordinances, such as administering to the sick constitute gifts from God to His children which are not essential for salvation. Many ordinances have symbolic meaning.

Elder Boyd K Packer explained,

“Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into God’s presence. To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality.”

The Melchizedek Priesthood, or power by which all things are governed was originally called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.

As we journey on this “walk” we call mortality, we must learn to fall in order. Our Father has simply ordered us to do so, and he watches until we learn to obey.

We simply need to remember, there is order and He excuses no one!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

S.Michael Wilcox Speaks On The Abrahamic Covenant

As if you have not had enough of me writing about the Abrahamic Covenant, I decided to post the following link:

S. Michael Wilcox in his 1998 Ensign article titled, The Abrahamic Covenant gives one of the most comprehensive discourses on the subject I have seen in one place.

Wilcox stresses the fact that we are given patriarchal blessings solely to distinguish our lineage, as one from the house of Abraham. This lineage allows for each of us as his children, or descendants, to collect on the promises made to him, our father. It is a wonderful transition to the revelation given in Section 2 of the Doctrine and Covenants which is literally the very next teaching the prophet Joseph Smith receives following his First Vision.

I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Lord's Equation Doctrine and Covenants Section 1

Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants is the “preface” written by the Lord himself, outlining what the rest of His book is really about. I wrote a previous post that expounds upon several thoughts I have had concerning Section 1 already, but I felt inspired to post the simplicity of the preface once again.

Perhaps the best way to look at the overall layout of the Doctrine and Covenants is by understanding the process or “equation” that is outlined in the preface, for gaining Eternal Life, or life with our Father.

I like to think of this equation as one that is as simple as 1+1=2.

It is as follows:

The New and Everlasting Covenant + Saving Ordinances = Being back in the presence of The Father.

What exactly is the New and Everlasting Covenant?

The New and Everlasting Covenant is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 66: 2). It is new every time it is revealed anew following a period of apostasy. It is everlasting in the sense that it is God’s covenant and has been enjoyed in every gospel dispensation where people have been willing to receive it. The new and everlasting covenant was revealed again to men on earth by Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith. It contains sacred ordinances administered by priesthood authority—such as baptism and temple marriage—that provide for man’s salvation, immortality, and eternal life. When people accept the gospel and promise to keep God’s commandments, God covenants to give them the blessings of his new and everlasting covenant.

The New and Everlasting Covenant contains the vehicle by which we may move forward in our progression on this earth, it is the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ upon this earth once again in these latter days, and the restoration of the priesthood authority that belongs only to that Church. This priesthood authority, being given in the form of keys, passed to worthy members of His Church through the laying on of hands, is necessary in order to perform the “Saving Ordinances” part of the equation above.

What are the Saving Ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Ordinances are sacred rites and ceremonies. Ordinances consist of acts that have spiritual meanings. Ordinances can also mean God’s laws and statutes.

Ordinances in the Church include administration to the sick (James 5: 14-15), blessing the sacrament (D&C 20: 77, 79), baptism by immersion (Matt. 3: 16; D&C 20: 72-74), blessing of children (D&C 20: 70), conferring the Holy Ghost (D&C 20: 68; 33: 15), conferring the priesthood (D&C 84: 6-16; 107: 41-52), temple ordinances (D&C 124: 39), and marriage in the new and everlasting covenant (D&C 132: 19-20).

Saving Ordinances are ones that are necessary to proceed on our journey or path back to the presence of the Lord. These include Baptism and conferring of the Holy Ghost, conferring of the priesthood, temple ordinances, and sealing ordinances. These ordinances must be performed in this life, so they are done vicariously for those who have not had the opportunity to do them for themselves.

This equation, or path, is the only way there is to return to the Father. This equation is only made possible because of the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, who supplied the demands of justice to broken law and offers mercy to those who require it, US. That is why He instructs us that He is the way by which we all must pass. Even He had to do it this way as He instructs us in Section 1, “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself;” for there is no other way.

Equation: NEC + SO= POF

It is simply math!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Promises of The Abrahamic Covenant

Understanding the terms of the covenant relationship that we share with our Heavenly Father allows us to then live up to our end of the deal more completely. After all, how can we commit to do something that we don’t really understand, right?

Our Father in Heaven requires the submission of our will and the proof of our obedience by the actions we choose, to show that we are willing to make him our God. This law of obedience and sacrifice is the first step on the journey we make as we “walk with Him” in this life. We sacrifice our will and obey his voice.

This requirement is not one that is without its own rewards. The blessings we receive because of faithfulness to the terms we enter into by abiding by this Abrahamic Covenant can be summed up in three simple areas. They are easily remembered by assigning letters to them, such as PPL.

The first P represents the promise of eternal POSTERITY. This is given to Abraham as the Lord makes the promise to him to “make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.” This might be more easily understood to mean eternal increase.

The next P represents the great blessing of eternal PRIESTHOOD to be held from generation to generation in the family line. This priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. It is the same priesthood that was used to create worlds without number.

Finally, the L stands for the LAND inheritance that is promised to those who are faithful to the conditions of the covenant. Just as Abraham was promised certain land in consequence of his willingness to obey and sacrifice, we too will indeed be given that blessing of a land inheritance, not only in the blessing of living with him but also in the creations of worlds of our own.

The blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant known as the PPL simply describes the potential we have of becoming like our Father in Heaven and having all that he has. These promises are “sure” or in other words guaranteed already, the only variable in the equation depends on us. We must be willing to live up to the terms set by the Lord as we covenant to obey this great LAW OF SACRIFICE. As we do, we find our life is filled with blessings so great; we cannot have room enough to receive them!

Abrahamic Covenant: I will be your God, you will be my people; walk with me.

Promises or Blessings for obedience to the terms of the covenant:

P- Eternal POSTERITY, or eternal increase.

P- Eternal PRIESTHOOD, or power

L- LAND inheritance, or worlds

Summary: If we are obedient to the covenants we make then we can have all that the Father has.

Isn’t it really very simple after all?