Wednesday, April 29, 2009

B.H. Roberts: A Tribute To His Mother

As I was searching through the Internet for buried treasure I found the LDS Author Kerry Shirts on YouTube under the name of The Backyard Professor. Among the gems he has to offer, by way of video presentation, he frequently produces videos that are book reviews called Shirtale Reviews.

One I was particularly interested in was a review of a book that merited a five star rating from him. The book was by B.H. Roberts called, Mormon Doctrine of Deity.

After watching the review I retired to my book collection to see if I owned a copy. Unfortunately I did not, but found instead some of B.H. Roberts’ other books that have piqued my interest. Among the books I found I had one titled, Defender of the Faith, The B.H. Roberts Story by Truman G. Madsen. I decided I might as well learn a little more about B.H. Roberts before starting to study his words, so that book is where I started.

This book is filled with inspirational stories and profound doctrinal commentary. I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to share a small snippet that filled my heart. It is a tribute that he wrote in a letter to his mother and follows:

“‘Touch me not’- gently, lovingly, nor harshly. And thus to a woman was it fist given to carry the glad message fashioned first by the angels’ tongues- ‘He is risen!’ Also the message that the Christ’s Father is man’s Father; that the Christ’s God is man’s God; and that as consequence of this, all men are brethren.

...the sum of the law and Gospel, all else commentary. This was where she had last seen him whom she loved- here she must begin her search for Him- and she will search for Him, for it is woman’s nature to hope- O glorious inconsistency! Against hope itself. And she was rewarded for her love that made her linger, though it was by an empty sepulchre; for soon angels said to her, ‘Why seeketh ye the living among the dead?’

...Even the glory of being ‘last at the cross, and earliest at the tomb’ is eclipsed by the honor of being herald of this. Cherish thou this honor. Claim it in all its Christ-given splendor; for it is fitting that thou unto whom it is first given to know human earthlife perennial, should be made herald of life immortal, and its relations...

...Next to her holy office of wifehood and motherhood, the most exalted honor Deity ever conferred on woman was that of making her his first messenger of the resurrection....

I am taught by these high things to honor thee, and here uncovered and holily I reverence pay thee.”

I can’t wait to read more of B.H. Roberts stirring words.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Is Baptism or The Temple The Gate?

I have always loved the scripture passage in 2 Nephi 31 which clearly explains the Doctrine of Christ:

16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.

17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the away; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.

One thing that has always plagued me with this passage however, is the reference of baptism being the gate. In another place in the scriptures, another prophet Jacob uses the reference of the temple or Bethel, as the “gate of Heaven.”

Genesis 28:17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.

19 And he called the name of that place Beth-el: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.

While speaking at the dedication of the Logan Utah Temple site, President Taylor shared with the congregation the feelings he experienced when he visited the St. George Utah Temple, the first temple completed in the Utah Territory:

“When I visited that holy Temple, accompanied by my brethren who were with me, we experienced a sacred thrill of joy and a solemn, reverential sensation. As we entered its sacred portals, we felt that we were standing on holy ground, and experienced, with one of old, ‘Surely this is the house of God, and the gate of heaven.’ [See Genesis 28:17.] That is not simply a metaphorical expression, but a reality, for it is in that House, and it will be in the House to be built on this ground, that the most sacred ordinances of God are to be performed, which are associated with the interest and happiness of the human family, living and dead. I felt to rejoice in my heart that we had been thus far successful in the building of one temple to the name of our Father and God.”

Is this a conflicting doctrine that baptism is the gate, and yet, the Temple is also the gate?

As I was studying in the book of 2 Samuel I came across a passage that described the area that King David waited in while waiting for word concerning his people in battle and the state of his son’s life.

Look at where David sat:

2 Samuel 18:24 And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone.

That was it! There were two gates in a fortified city. Further research led me to this information:

“As the gate was especially subject to attack (Ezekiel 21:15,22), and as to "possess the gate" was to possess the city (Genesis 22:17; 24:60), it was protected by a tower (2 Samuel 18:24,33; 2 Chronicles 14:7; 26:9), often, doubtless, overhanging and with flanking projections. Sometimes an inner gate was added (2 Samuel 18:24).”

Can’t you just picture this clearly now?

When one enters in at the first gate of baptism, they must proceed forward towards the second gate of the temple. All the while, the watchman is on the tower giving direction and warning of danger.

Such a beautiful picture... don’t you think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Reminder

And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth. . . . I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest. . . .

And I, God, said: Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, the fruit tree yielding fruit, after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit. . . .

And the earth brought forth grass, every herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit. . . and I, God, saw that all things which I had made were good. . . .

And I, God, said: Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl which may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. . . .

And I, God, created great whales, and every living creature that moveth. . . and I, God, saw that all things which I had created were good. . . .

And I, God, said: Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind, and it was so. . . and I, God, saw that all these things were good.

And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so. And I, God, said: Let them have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowl of the air. . . and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. . . .

And I, God, saw everything that I had made, and, behold, all things which I had made were very good. . . .

And I, the Lord God, took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden, to dress it, and to keep it. (Moses 2: 1, 11-12, 20-21, 24-28, 31; 3: 15))

The Lord created this beautiful earth and gave Adam certain charges regarding it.

He told Adam to multiply and replenish the earth, to subdue it, to have dominion over every living thing, to dress it, to keep it, to take good care of it (Moses 2: 28, 3: 15).

What exactly does the direction of dominion mean?

Hugh Nibley, in his book Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless (1978), has said,

"Lordship and dominion are the same thing; the responsibility of the master for the comfort and well- being of his dependents and guests. . . . [H]e is not a predator, a manipulator or an exploiter of other creatures, but one who cooperates with nature as a diligent husbandman.

The ancients taught that Adam's dominion was nothing less than the priesthood. . . with the understanding that 'from this time forth, man must work to improve the earth and preserve and take care of all that is in it, exactly as God had done before.' (88)

Man's call to dominion then is a "call to service," not a call to "exterminate" (Nibley 96)."

Dominion, when seen as a priesthood responsibility, becomes an even greater charge.

As today is Earth Day, I felt inclined to remind myself of this great responsibility.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants Section 30 Mission Calls

Have you ever wondered why different people get “called” to different places to serve missions for the Lord?

Doctrine and Covenants Section 30 is a great example of how the Lord knows each of us so personally and what is best for us in our lives.

Section 30 originally was three different revelations to three brothers, but was combined to form one inclusive revelation. The three brothers were the Whitmer brothers, David, Peter, and John. Each of these three brothers were called by the Lord to serve missions, but each were called to serve in different areas for different reasons.

In a previous revelation, Oliver Cowdery was informed by the Lord through the prophet Joseph Smith that he would be serving a mission to the Lamanites, to preach the gospel to them. If you think about it, having just received the Book of Mormon and understanding that the Lamanites would need to be brought to a knowledge of their fathers, this would have been a very desirable mission call to receive. (You know the old Australia vs. Idaho complex!) In Section 30 the Lord makes it very clear who, out of the three brothers, would get to accompany Oliver and why.

The first mission call or revelation was directed to David, who was one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. One of the major responsibilities of the three witnesses was not only to testify of the Book of Mormon itself, but to testify that Joseph Smith received the power to translate it by God. However, David had just been recently involved in an incident involving Hyrum Page, who was his brother-in-law, and a seer stone. Hyrum claimed to be receiving revelation for the Church regarding the future location of the city of Zion which he had received through the stone itself. It is interesting to note that David needed to be reinstructed by the Lord of the position Joseph held as the authorized spokesperson for the Lord because of this incident.

David, who should have known better, was taken in by the false spirit that was revealed through the stone. The Lord explained five great stumbling blocks that David had experienced. Can you find them in the following scripture verse?

Section 30:1 Behold, I say unto you, David, that you have feared man and have not relied on me for strength as you ought.

2 But your mind has been on the things of the earth more than on the things of me, your Maker, and the ministry whereunto you have been called; and you have not given heed unto my Spirit, and to those who were set over you, but have been persuaded by those whom I have not commanded.

3 Wherefore, you are left to inquire for yourself at my hand, and ponder upon the things which you have received.

These stumbling blocks can be seen as a process to impede progression. These are universal and should be a lesson for us all. Because David had been wavering in his convictions, the Lord knew he need to stay close to the Church to be strengthen and perfected in his testimony before he embarked out in the mission field. His mission was to remain at home and minister in the Church and the regions round about. Some may view this as a punishment for disobedience; I simply see it as a Father who knew what is best for His child.

Peter, on the other hand, by keeping the commandments ( we can assume this was the case as the Lord instructs him to be “diligent” in keeping the commandments, this shows that he must continue to keep them...implying he already was) received the opportunity to accompany Oliver on the mission to the Lamanites.

Section 30 outlines very clearly the relationship of Oliver and Peter, as the Lord explained the principle of the “senior companion”.

Seciton 30:5 Behold, I say unto you, Peter, that you shall take your journey with your brother Oliver; for the time has come that it is expedient in me that you shall open your mouth to declare my gospel; therefore, fear not, but give heed unto the words and advice of your brother (meaning Oliver not David at this point), which he shall give you.

6 And be you afflicted in all his afflictions, ever lifting up your heart unto me in prayer and faith, for his and your deliverance; for I have given unto him power to build up my church among the Lamanites;

7 And none have I appointed to be his counselor over him in the church, concerning church matters, except it is his brother, Joseph Smith, Jun.

8 Wherefore, give heed unto these things and be diligent in keeping my commandments, and you shall be blessed unto eternal life. Amen.

The final mission call is given to John. We are not given a lot of information about him personally but are told that he was called to serve in the area around Fayette at a man named Philip Burroughs place. According to Susan Easton Black in her book, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, Philip Burroughs was actually John Whitmers neighbor. It seems that John was responsible to preach in his own neighborhood, opening his mouth continually, “not fearing what man can do”. Sometimes it is hardest to do just that, preach to those with whom you associate daily.

Three brothers received three different mission calls. The message one might gather about David’s mission call is the important of perfecting the saints, beginning with himself. Peter was to go forth as one crying from the dust, to bring light to a people who sat in darkness. This rebirth of the gospel could be seen as a mission to redeem the dead. As for John, we are given a great illustration of a mission simply to continually proclaim the gospel. When you combine these three mission calls and the message they might give to us as readers today, we see that the three fold mission of the Church is the priority given by the Lord.

Different missions are given to different people for many reasons, sometimes only known by the Lord alone. Our faith in Him, and the understanding that He is all knowing, gives us the motivation needed to carry on in whatever work He sees fit to assign. Simply stated, it doesn’t matter where you serve, do it to the best of your ability. The Lord needs laborers in his vineyard and He knows best where to put them to gain the most from what they have to offer. So whether you are called to Australia, Idaho, or simply your own backyard, serve with your whole heart, might, mind, and soul.

The blessings will follow.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Having A Prophet, We Have Everything

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we often sing the hymn, “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley expounded on the background of that song in a talk he gave with the same title. He said,

“It was written more than a century ago by a man of humble circumstances who lived in Sheffield, England. He worked in the steel mills and was discharged because he joined the Mormon Church. But there burned in his heart a great and fervent testimony; and out of an overflowing spirit of gratitude, he penned these moving lines. They have become a grateful expression of appreciation for millions over the earth. I have heard them sung in many different languages as a reverent prayer of thanksgiving for divine revelation.

How thankful we ought to be, how thankful we are, for a prophet to counsel us in words of divine wisdom as we walk our paths in these complex and difficult times. The solid assurance we carry in our hearts, the conviction that God will make His will known to His children through His recognized servants, is the real basis of our faith and activity. We either have a prophet or we have nothing; and having a prophet, we have everything.”

I believe that the last line in the quote could use further emphasis. We either have a prophet or we have nothing; and having a prophet, we have everything.

What is the "everything" we really have?

In Amos 3:7 it is written, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”

The most important blessing we receive by having a prophet of God on the earth today is that of authority.

The Lord gives his prophets, seers, and revelators both the priesthood authority and the keys they need to act in his name. The keys are the right of presidency. President Joseph F. Smith wrote:

“It is necessary that every act performed under this authority shall be done at the proper time and place, in the proper way, and after the proper order. The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood. In their fullness, the keys are held by only one person at a time, the prophet and president of the Church. He may delegate any portion of this power to another, in which case that person holds the keys of that particular labor.”

Our modern day prophet literally holds ALL the keys necessary for our salvation and exaltation concerning our progress here on earth. He is the key holder of the Aaronic Priesthood which gives him the right to administer in the ordinances of the gospel of repentance and baptism, and allow the ministering of angels. These ordinances then prepare us to receive the Melchizedek ordinances of which he also holds the keys. These Melchizedek Priesthood keys allow us to “know the mysteries of kingdom and the knowledge of God” receiving the higher ordinances of the temple.

His “right to presidency” turns all those keys on our behalf and allows us to choose to return back to the presence of our Father.

He also has been given, through the laying on of hands, the same keys that were given to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple. These keys allow for the gathering of Israel and the restoration of the Ten tribes to commence, given by the original key holder Moses, himself. Also given are the keys to the sealing power, binding in Heaven that which is bound on earth, under the direction of Elijah the prophet. This is literally everything!

As you can see it is evident that without a prophet we have nothing, and with him we have everything, as a people, a nation, and a church.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The United Order and The Law of Consecration

My friend John, who is the Gospel Doctrine teacher in his ward, and I were chatting about the lesson he was soon to give on The Law of Consecration and the United Order. Among other things, we came to the conclusion that there were simply too many misconceptions, even among the members of the Church, being taught simply due to some “traditional” ways of thinking. These misconceptions can only be cleared up by teaching correct principles and doctrine on the subject.

I have been fascinated with the Celestial Law, meaning the Law of Consecration, since the first time I was privileged to teach it in Seminary. I remember asking my students to go home and ask their parents to share with them what they knew about the Law of Consecration. Some of the responses they returned with are similar to the ones that I found in an incredible post by Bryce Haymond on his Blog Temple Study.

“Some day we will live the law of consecration again, but until then we must be ‘willing’ to live it.”

“It is Church doctrine that the full Law of Consecration was suspended by the Lord through the Prophet in 1834.”

“My belief is that things will get progressively worse until the actual Second Coming when Christ will institute the law of consecration.”

These are simply common myths that can only be cleared up by correct teachings.

Rather than “re-invent the wheel” I have decided to give you the links to two posts in the Temple Study Blog that do a wonderful job teaching and addressing this issue in depth. Please visit this post and this post, and let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Make His Paths Straight

Doctrine and Covenants 33:10 Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying: Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;

“Eastern potentates, when traveling from one part of the kingdom to another, would proclaim their coming and order their subjects to prepare the way for them by building roads where there were none, if necessary; by leveling hills and filling up depressions, and straightening out the winding paths. Semiramis, the Assyrian queen, is said to have had roads constructed especially for her journeys. In modern times the Turkish government built a good road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, when the German Emperor signified his intention of visiting the Holy City. To prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight is to acknowledge His sovereignty and to make all necessary preparations for His reception. He will not come to reign until all necessary preparations for His coming have been made.” (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl)

“Hear this, O Earth! The Lord will not come to reign over the righteous, in this world... until everything for the Bridegroom is ready.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol V.,p291.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The First Sheaf Offering

When the Children of Israel finally entered into the Promised Land they were instructed to perform another ritual offering, known as the offering of the first sheaf of the winter grown grains, or barley crop. This was to be done when the crops were ready to be harvested at Passover time.

Leviticus 23:10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

This offering was to be lifted up on the morning following the Israelite Sabbath, which would be the Sunday following the Saturday Sabbath. As the sun set at Passover time, the first sheaf of the harvest would have been cut and, because it would have been the eve of the Israelite Sabbath, or the Seventh Day Sabbath, the priests would have placed it in the Temple to wait to offer it on the morning after the Sabbath. This offering would come to have incredible significance.

Lenet Hadley Read explained in her book, “The Lords Holy Days, Powerful Witnesses of Truth”:

“Just as the sun set at Passover, a group of men cut down the first sheaf of the harvest. Because of the timing of the Sabbath, this would have occurred during Christ’s removal from the cross.

Thus the first sheaf of barley lay in the temple while Jesus’ body lay in the tomb.

On the morning after the Sabbath, the priests lifted up that first sheaf of the harvest as an offering to the Lord. It had always born witness, and its witness was that day fulfilled. For that very same morning Christ was lifted up in resurrection, the very first fruit of the harvest of the dead.”

1 Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

Jesus Christ was literally "the firstfruit" symbolically taught to us by the first sheaf offering.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Three Veils of Water

My friend Shawna asked me to post my crazy ideas about water so here goes….

I believe that we will pass through three veils of water in this life.

The first veil of water that we all have to pass through is that of birth. It is by water that we are all brought into this world and given our physical bodies. Each woman is given the priesthood responsibility of providing physical birth and this process is done through, water and blood. In essence, she becomes the veil. I believe this is illustrated beautifully in the process of Temple worship. Thus, she is pronounced “clean”, or in other words, she has fulfilled her portion of the covenant in regards to life.

The second veil of water that one may pass through is that of Baptism. This process is done by immersion by one who has the authority to provide spiritual birth. Baptism by immersion represents death of the old man and birth, similar to the birthing process itself, of the new. A righteous priesthood holder must provide this service for one who requires baptism, and thus through the act of magnifying his priesthood duties he “may become clean”, or in other words, may fulfill his part of the covenant with regard to spiritual life. Being cleansed at Baptism is only made possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, thus blood is also involved in this birthing process too.

I believe that the third veil of water that will be passed through is done through the process of death and resurrection. This water is the living water that is referred to by Christ when he explained to the women at the well, “The water that I shall give … shall be … a well of water springing up into everlasting life”

The prophet Jeremiah gives an analogy of Israel being like clay in the hands of the potter. I believe we can personalize this even more and consider ourselves as clay in the hands of the potter. We can be pliable and molded to the shape the potter desires, but at some point the pot is still not perfect. It must be crushed and ground down to its original form as the “dust of the earth”. Once again the potter adds the missing ingredient of water to the dust and the clay becomes a work of art in His hands. We are all simply a work in progress for the potter, until in the end; we are sanctified through His blood, by Him the living water.

An interesting question might arise… what does not burn? WATER! Specifically vessels filled with living water.

Don’t you just love water?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Lamb of God

To the people of the covenant, the Lord was very specific about how they were to offer sacrifices and celebrate His Holy Days. The reason they were commanded to be so precise in their worship was because all that they did pointed them in the direction of Jesus Christ. During the first Passover Feast the Children of Israel were saved from the last plague, pronounced by Pharaoh himself, of the death of the firstborn. This salvation came only because of the blood of the lamb, which was offered as a sacrifice.

Exodus 12: 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

By this token of blood, the Children of Israel would remember the power by which they were saved.

There was also very specific instruction about the lamb that was to be used in the Passover feast.

According to Exodus 12:

  • It was to be male.
  • It had to be a firstborn sheep.
  • The lamb was to be without blemish.
  • It had to be slain on a specific day at a specific time.
  • It had to be roasted with fire.
  • It was to be killed without one broken bone.
  • It was to be eaten with bitter herbs.
  • It had to be totally consumed or burned, leaving nothing.

The lamb that was to be offered was a type and a shadow for the Lamb of God that would become the last and great sacrifice. In all ways the Children of Israel were taught of Jesus Christ and his ability to save because of the blood he would shed for them.

In what way do you think these specifications pointed to Jesus Christ?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Remembering The Passover

While I was watching the traditional Easter movie "The Ten Commandments" tonight, I was reminded of my very first post that I did on this Blog a year ago about the Passover. I love the symbolism of the Passover. I simply would like to share some insights once again because of the significance of the season.

The Children of Israel were instructed by the Lord in a ritualistic, memorialistic way what they must do to ultimately be saved by the “strong hand of God.” These directions came directly from Him to His living prophet at the time, Moses.

They were as follows:

1) They must participate in the Passover Feast. There were specific instructions given as to the specifications of the actual lamb that was to be sacrificed. They were told that they were to celebrate this feast as a “memorial throughout their generation.” A memorial is simply a reminder or something to jog your memory. This feast was to remind them of the power that was needed to save them. It was to point to the ultimate sacrifice, or the last great sacrifice, Jesus Christ. This Passover Feast was in remembrance of the Law of Sacrifice. It was to end with the death of Jesus Christ, when the times of the Jews would be ended and the beginning of the times of the gentiles would be started. Their generation would come to a close, no more need of the feast.

2) Simultaneously to be celebrated with the Feast of Passover, was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Lord required His children to remove all yeast, representing sin, from their midst, and partake of unleavened bread for seven days. This particular feast would be as an “ordinance for ever.” An ordinance is “a sacred rite or ceremony performed by the power of the priesthood and intended to bless God’s children.” Today we partake of this in a different way, the way shown to the disciples by Jesus during the Last Supper. We call this the ordinance of the sacrament. It is a reminder that we have covenanted to live The Law of the Gospel.

3) Because of the mercy the Lord showed in saving all of the firstborn of Israel, He instituted the requirement or Law of the Firstborn for all of His covenant children. This law required that each firstborn child would be consecrated to the Lord, as payment for His saving grace. He stated to Pharaoh emphatically that “Israel was His firstborn.” This means that ultimately this directive or Law of Consecration was the requirement for any who desired entrance into the “church of the firstborn.”

I am amazed at the beauty and simplicity with which the Lord teaches us these three important laws, The Law of Sacrifice, The Law of the Gospel, and The Law of Consecration. All these are required for entrance into His kingdom, reminding us continually that salvation and exaltation will only be given “by the strong hand of the Lord.”

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Consider The Lilies

Luke 12: 27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.

30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

31 ¶ But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Thank you Mormon Soprano for this beautiful video!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Atonement: The Very Root of Christian Doctrine

As Easter is approaching I am drawn to one of my favorite talks given by Thomas B. Griffith at a BYU Devotional in March 2006. It is called “The Very Root of Christian Doctrine.”
Introducing his topic, Brother Griffith quoted Elder Boyd K. Packer from a General Conference address titled “The Mediator.” In that address Elder Packer said:
“The Atonement of Christ is the very root of Christian doctrine. You may know much about the gospel as it branches out from there, but if you only know the branches and those branches do not touch that root, if they have been cut free from that truth, there will be no life nor substance nor redemption in them.”
Brother Griffith then confessed that he had taught many lessons that were, “although interesting and motivational, according to Elder Packer’s guide had ‘no life nor substance nor redemption in them’ because they weren’t directly linked to the Atonement of Christ.” Because of this revelatory insight, as a member of a newly called stake presidency, a rule was given to their stake that every Sacrament meeting talk and every lesson in Sunday School, Relief Society, and Priesthood meetings must be related to the Atonement of Christ in a direct and express way.
I pondered this counsel and wondered if I had thought to tie all lessons back to this “root” of the Atonement that Elder Packer described. I believe that I too may have fallen short of this instruction and have decided to conscientiously try to take this challenge.
I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the greatest love story ever. Because of this great gift of love I have been given the possibility to return to live with my Father in Heaven. I am grateful for my Savior and Redeemer and understand that application of this gift is my choice. It is the root from which my Eternal Family Tree will be fed with the living waters of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news that He lived, He died, and He lives again.

Join me in taking the challenge extended by Brother Griffith, make sure you are teaching the very root of Christian Doctrine, the Atonement of Jesus Christ in all you do.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Becoming Yoked

I regularly read an insightful BLOG called Unending Luck. The BLOG is written as if each post was a carving, meaning a lasting impression. The subject that is addressed is that of “runes”. “A rune is a ‘letter’ in the old ‘alphabet’ of the Teutonic languages (Old English, Old Norse, and so forth). Each rune has its own sound and name.” By exploring the original meaning of these letters one may have a greater understand of “the Word.” You might want to go over to this link and check out some of these insights, but start from the beginning.

On one of the “carvings” or posts, the author explored the meaning of the word “yoke”, which reminded me of some insights I had gained while listening to a speaker during Sacrament meeting.

When I think of a yoke, I think of two beasts connected together by the yoke itself, trying to become one as they progress forward in their path or work.

Many times the scripture reference from Matthew 11 is considered when the term yoke is used.

28 ¶ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I have heard many individuals use the analogy that the load is lighter because the Savior is in the yoke with us. Although this is a great thought, I felt the impression that when Jesus instructs us to “take his yoke” upon us, that He is the owner of the yoke, not the beast of burden who is along side of us.

Along this train of thought, most of the other scripture references that are given, using the analogy of the yoke, are ones in which the individual is referred to as under the "yoke of captivity". This oppressive picture is because of the choices they have either made as a nation or as an individual. The individual is continually trying to “break free” from this yoke because of the burden it brings. The yoke of sin is one example of an oppressive situation.

When we take upon us the yoke of Christ it is the act of submitting ourselves into His service. His work is neither oppressive nor constraining, but is rewarding allowing us the freedom to progress.

So you may wonder… who are the two individuals in the yoke itself? I believe it is a beautiful illustration of the concept of the duality of man. It is the process of becoming one heart and one mind with that of the owner of the yoke. The natural man and the saint working side by side until they can, by submission, finally move forward without tugging at each other.

Sometimes, even when we think we are wearing the proper yoke, we might find ourselves going in circles. I believe it is because we have not learned that being a divided individual thwarts our progress and the work of the Lord too. This molding of our “self” into the beautiful Zion individual that we must become can be a painful and strenuous process, but is always made easier if we submit to the will of the owner of the yoke.

When our body and our spirit learn to work together we find ourselves going forward in a straight direction. We learn that we can neither turn to the right hand nor to the left, but by submitting to the will of the owner of the yoke and pressing forward in faith, we can stay on the straight and narrow way. That way is back to the presence of the Father, where we find rest to our souls.

What are the impressions you get when you think about a yoke?

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Favorite LDS General Conference Talk

I loved General Conference this past weekend. I think that if I had to pick a favorite talk it would be from the Sunday afternoon session given by Elder David A. Bednar. I can’t wait to get the written copy of it so that I can study it further. Until then, enjoy this talk by him as well.

Perhaps it is because of the affinity I feel for Elder Bednar, but I really don’t think so... his talk just really did it for me.

What did it for you this conference?

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Armor of God- Doctrine and Covenants Section 27

The third portion of Section 27 in the Doctrine and Covenants is the direction given to prepare those who desire to be present at the “last great Sacrament meeting”. It is familiarly known as the instruction to “put on the armor of God.”

What can qualify one to be there?

The instructive verse in Section 27 that states, “And also with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world”, is given as a qualifier for attendance in addition to those who hold specific keys.

I refer to John as he records the Intercessory prayer once again:

John 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

This verse is in reference to His twelve apostles, but he further adds:

John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

Not only the “keyholders” that are given to Him will be eligible to attend, but also those who believe in Him through their words are eligible, if they are prepared. To become prepared they must have put on the “Armor of God.”

May I suggest an incredible talk called, The Whole Armor of God by Rex C. Reeve which was given as a fireside address at Brigham Young University in 1982. Elder Reeve expounds on the significance of the pieces of armor and what they might represent in our preparation to remain worthy and eligible to stand the day.

If you missed my previous post on The Temple Garment: “An Outward Expression of an Inward Commitment”, go back and read that as well.

We must be not only dressed in the “Armor of God”, but we must be adorned in the “Robes of Righteousness” too. To be properly dressed for the occasion is of necessity.

Matthew 22: 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

11 ¶ And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Be one who chooses to be chosen.

Don’t forget another good way to prepare......

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Last Great Sacrament Meeting- Doctrine and Covenants Section 27

Yesterday I posted my thoughts about the first part of Section 27, The Purpose of the Sacrament, so today I will continue on with the second part, The Last Great Sacrament Meeting.

Prior to the suffering of the Savior in Gethsemane, and His death upon the cross He met with His twelve disciples to instruct them regarding the ordinance of the Sacrament. In Matthew 26 we read:

JST Matthew 26:26 ¶ And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, band blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall come and drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

In verse 29 the Savior references a future time when He will once again partake of the Sacrament with them, but it will not be until He “shall come and drink it new” in His Father’s kingdom. This reference, though seemingly rather cryptic to those He was with, can be better understood today because of continued revelation.

Look for what is meant by “His Father’s Kingdom.”

D&C 27: 4 Wherefore, you shall partake of none except it is made anew among you; yea, in this my Father’s kingdom which shall be built up on the earth.

5 Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, ...

This “kingdom” Christ refers to is literally that, it is the Kingdom of God, a pure Theocratic form of government which will be upon the earth when Christ returns as “king of kings.” The ordinance of the Sacrament will be shared once again with those who will be a part of this kingdom. I can visualize this last great Sacrament meeting, as a political convention, as well as, a church event. It will be the ultimate combination of “church and state.” It will be one in which Christ will take the helm as both “King and Priest.” This great event will take place at the Valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, which is located in Daviess County, Missouri.

Some back ground on this location can be found in Doctrine and Covenants Section 107:

D&C 107:53 Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, who were all high priests, with the residue of his posterity who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing.

54 And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel.

55 And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him: I have set thee to be at the head; a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a prince over them forever.

56 And Adam stood up in the midst of the congregation; and, notwithstanding he was bowed down with age, being full of the Holy Ghost, predicted whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation.

This event, in which Adam introduced his posterity back into the presence of the Lord, was also one where Adam assigned keys to those who would carry forth the work. One might picture this as a very formal Priesthood Executive Committee meeting, where everyone received their assignment to do the work. The Last Great Sacrament Meeting will be the bookend of this meeting, or the return and report meeting. It is here that all “keyholders” will return their keys to Adam, who will then return them back to Jesus Christ showing their support and allegiance to Him as both their political and religious leader.

Who will be there and why?

  • Moroni- Key holder to the record of the stick of Ephraim
  • Elias- (which this time is Noah or Gabriel)- Keys to the restoration of all things
  • John the Baptist- Keys to the Aaronic Priesthood
  • Elijah- Keys to the sealing power
  • Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham- Representatives of the Abrahamic Covenant or Patriarchal line
  • Adam- Father of all, Prince of all
  • Peter, James, and John- Apostolic Keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood.


27:14 And also with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world.

Will you be there?