Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I love pioneers! I love to read pioneer stories and hear about their faith promoting experiences. I love the bravery and determination of pioneers who ventured into a world unknown to them. I love the sense of adventure and sacrifice that the pioneers themselves represent.

I come from pioneer stock. I have ancestors who crossed the plains when they were forced from their homes in Nauvoo. I have ancestors who crossed the ocean to join the Saints in America, leaving their native lands. I have modern day pioneers who, against the wishes of their families, joined the LDS Church and forged a way for me and my children to follow.

I associate with pioneers each day. As a member of an LDS Young Single Adult Branch I am surrounded by modern day pioneers. These brave young adults have ventured out of a world they were familiar with to join with a group of other young adults who have welcomed them in with open arms. These new converts to the LDS faith are brave, determined, adventurous, and know the meaning of the word sacrifice. I feel the need to honor them, along with the many that have gone before them to make the path easier for those who will follow.

Joshua, Brooke, James, Sabrina, Frank, Steven, Alysa, Natalie, Daviana, Scott, Mehgan, Monica, Sally, Bill, Shelly, Tamara, Tarnue, Tim, Tyson, and many others who I have probably neglected to mention.

This video is for you.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Joseph Smith and the Masonic Sign of Distress

I have recently read a book loaned to me by a dear friend titled, “The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, by N.B. Lundwall. Contained in the pages of the book is an in depth account given by John Taylor regarding the events that took place just prior to, and during the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, in Carthage jail. John Taylor, having been there himself, and suffering injuries from the same mob attack, gave his first-person account of the dreadful scene that occurred on that fateful day. For many years I have been plagued by the accounts given in Heber C. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff’s journals that have opined that the last act done by Joseph Smith prior to his falling from the window was a Masonic sign of distress. They were simply not there to witness it personally. This has never made any sense to me, and has been hard for me to believe. I hope to explain why.

Joseph Smith had learned very early in his ministry what would happen to him if he trusted in the “arm of flesh” instead of the Lord. As early as Section 3 in the Doctrine and Covenants, when he caved to the pressure of Martin Harris, resulting in the loss of the 116 pages of translated manuscript, he was taught by the Lord to fear God and not man.

Doctrine and Covenants 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—

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.

9 Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall.

10 But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work;

The loss of the manuscript and the temporary power to translate was a painful memory and a lesson well learned early on in his life, it was one he never forgot. I know that Joseph Smith understood from this experience the importance of relying solely on the Lord in his times of distress. For more proof of this fact, while in Liberty Jail the prophet sought the Lord diligently.

Doctrine and Covenants 121: 1 O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?

2 How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?

3 Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?

4 O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol—stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us.

As the Prophet Joseph Smith was being taken to Carthage to be tried and ultimately unlawfully jailed, he expressed the calm knowledge that he was “going like a lamb to the slaughter.” I believe he knew he would not return to Nauvoo. On that dreadful day of his martyrdom an eye witness to the death of Joseph Smith, Col. M. B. Darnell, later related the scene, “I remember to have seen Joseph Smith jump from the window. It was a terribly exciting time and it all happened in an instant. I cannot describe it in any better way than by saying he came out just as though some one big and powerful had thrown him right through the window. Undoubtedly, however, he came by his own effort. He certainly did not hang to the window. It seems to me he came out head first, and he was shot while passing through the window. I do not know that I really saw any one set him up against the well. I know I partially saw it and got it from what they said at the time. I could not hear distinctly what Joseph said when he fell, but it seems to me to be, ‘O Lord, My God.’ That was all he said.”

John Taylor, after having been shot himself, did not notice the circumstances of Joseph at the window until he noticed someone cry that he had leaped out of the window. He did not hear Joseph say anything at the time. When Willard Richards, who had escaped the shower of bullets unharmed, noticed John Taylor was still alive he reacted in this way, “Oh! Brother Taylor, is it possible that they have killed both Brother Hyrum and Joseph? It cannot surely be, and yet I saw them shoot them.” He then elevated his hands two or three times and exclaimed, “Oh Lord, my God, spare thy servants!” This seems to be the same manner in which Joseph was reported to have called upon the Lord before he fell from the window.

Although a normal attitude of prayer does not require the elevation of hands, there are certain prayers that do. Some may claim this to be a Masonic distress sign, but for me, I know that there is absolutely no way on this green earth that Joseph, in his time of complete submission to the will of the Lord, would have relied on the arm of man to spare him. He would have never relied on the Masons over the Lord. He had learned that lesson far too long ago.

I knew it, I simply knew it!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


The old saying “hindsight is 20/20” becomes particularly poignant when it comes to the early saints, and the Lord’s request given to them concerning their job in the establishment of the city of Zion. In July 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith and several other elders of the church had traveled to Jackson County, Missouri, with the purpose in mind of learning the Lords will concerning the location He had chosen to establish His city. In Section 57 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord reveals just exactly where the city of Zion was to be.

Doctrine and Covenants 57:1 Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.

2 Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.

3 And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.

This group of Zionists must have been so excited to finally learn where the Lord had chosen to establish His city. They had prayed for this moment fervently and it had finally arrived. The understanding that they had of the Lord’s return, and the part that the building up of Zion played in that, made them yearn for a speedy establishment of the city itself. I believe they thought that His second coming would happen just as soon as they did, but in their zeal they might not have remembered that all things are given in the Lord’s time.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:1 Hearken, O ye elders of my church, and give ear to my word, and learn of me what I will concerning you, and also concerning this land unto which I have sent you.

2 For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.

3 Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.

4 For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.

The hour for them was truly “not yet”. The saints of that time period never did see the blessing of Zion being established in Jackson County, Missouri. They did however see tribulations galore. Although they did not see the fruit of their labors at the time, they did have a particular part to play in the establishment of Zion so that they could be crowned with the glory associated with that job.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:6 Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you—that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come;

7 And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand;

These wonderful Saints truly did bear testimony of Zion and knew the blessings associated with it. As true Zionists, they did their job of laying the foundation thereof as well. They were certainly doers of the word, anxiously engaged in a good cause and their reward is sure.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

Today the foundation for Zion that was laid by them is being built upon by us. We have become the builders of the Kingdom, furthering the work that was started. All of the prophets of old, as well as these founding Saints, look to us in anticipation of the great task we have been given, to build up Zion and make ready the return of the Lord. It is with their continued support and help we will be able to complete the job assignment given.

Joseph Smith explained:

The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory; it is left for us to see, participate in and help to roll forward the Latter-day glory, "the dispensation of the fulness of times, when God will gather together all things that are in heaven, and all things that are upon the earth," "even in one," when the Saints of God will be gathered in one from every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue, when the Jews will be gathered together into one, the wicked will also be gathered together to be destroyed, as spoken of by the prophets; the Spirit of God will also dwell with His people, and be withdrawn from the rest of the nations, and all things whether in heaven or on earth will be in one, even in Christ. The heavenly Priesthood will unite with the earthly, to bring about those great purposes; and whilst we are thus united in one common cause, to roll forth the kingdom of God, the heavenly Priesthood are not idle spectators, the Spirit of God will be showered down from above, and it will dwell in our midst. The blessings of the Most High will rest upon our tabernacles, and our name will be handed down to future ages; our children will rise up and call us blessed; and generations yet unborn will dwell with peculiar delight upon the scenes that we have passed through, the privations that we have endured; the untiring zeal that we have manifested; the all but insurmountable difficulties that we have overcome in laying the foundation of a work that brought about the glory and blessing which they will realize; a work that God and angels have contemplated with delight for generations past; that fired the souls of the ancient patriarchs and prophets; a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family. (May 2, 1842.)

(Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith, p.231)

We now fondly look back to those who have laid this foundations and call them blessed, for today we do truly realize the blessings of the work they so triumphantly undertook to accomplish. Temples are found throughout the earth, with many more soon to be dedicated and built. The “feast of fat things” is now being eaten by the members of the Church, who have become rich, wise and noble in spiritual things, and is available to be taken to the rest of the world who are poor, lame, blind and deaf, who are in need of the blessings to make them whole.

Do you think we fully realize the job that we have been given? Do we understand we are the ones who were chosen to build upon that foundation that our pioneer ancestors so faithfully sacrificed to build? In what ways do you think we are building upon the work of those who have come before us? What can I do individually to participate in this great work? I ponder questions like these all the time, diligently striving to do my part. Have you considered your job in this vein lately? If not, take some time out to think about it... and strive to make Zion a bigger part of your mind set.

I believe we are truly Zionists. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Slow of Speech, Enoch and Moses

Enoch and Moses were both great prophets of God. They both had a similar experience when they were called by God to do His work. Both initially had the same response to the challenge issued explaining that each was “slow of speech” and simply not up to the task given. Their acknowledgment of weakness in this area was, however, followed by two different approaches to the problem. It is interesting to study them together to gain insights into the way the Lord makes our “weak things strong.”

In the Pearl of Great Price, the account is given of Enoch and his great calling. Look for Enoch’s initial response to the directions given by the Lord:

Moses6: 27 And he heard a voice from heaven, saying: Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people, and my fierce anger is kindled against them; for their hearts have waxed hard, and their fears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off;

28 And for these many generations, ever since the day that I created them, have they gone astray, and have denied me, and have sought their own counsels in the dark; and in their own abominations have they devised murder, and have not kept the commandments, which I gave unto their father, Adam.

29 Wherefore, they have foresworn themselves, and, by their oaths, they have brought upon themselves death; and a hell I have prepared for them, if they repent not;

30 And this is a decree, which I have sent forth in the beginning of the world, from my own mouth, from the foundation thereof, and by the mouths of my servants, thy fathers, have I decreed it, even as it shall be sent forth in the world, unto the ends thereof.

31 And when Enoch had heard these words, he bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying: Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?

Enoch must have been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the calling he had just received and simply inadequate to do the great task ahead. The Lord knew what Enoch was capable of doing even if Enoch didn’t fully realize his own potential.

Moses 6:32 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good.

33 Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you.

34 Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.

Enoch, who was humble and submissive, took the Lord at His word and obeyed His command.

Moses 6: 37 And it came to pass that Enoch went forth in the land, among the people, standing upon the hills and the high places, and cried with a loud voice, testifying against their works; and all men were offended because of him.

Because Enoch was willing to “go and do”, the Lord made his weak area his strength.

Moses 6:47 And as Enoch spake forth the words of God, the people trembled, and could not stand in his presence.

Moses 7:13 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the drivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.

When Moses was called by the Lord to be the deliver of the Children of Israel from the bondage of Pharaoh, his initial response is exactly the same as Enoch’s.

Exodus 3:3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

7 ¶ And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

11 ¶ And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

Moses must have felt inadequate and ill equipped for his new calling, the same as Enoch did, so Moses pressed the Lord further.

Exodus 3:13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

The Lord then explained to him exactly what he was to say to the Children of Israel to make them understand that he had received his call from the Lord but even after the explanation, Moses still queried.

Exodus 4:1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.

At this point, the Lord showed Moses the power of his word in the form of a miracle when He turned Moses own hand into a leprous state and then cleansed it. He showed Moses that He could take Moses' weakness or imperfections and make them perfect, but still Moses feared.

Exodus 4:10 And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

Still patient with Moses the Lord responded:

Exodus 4:11 And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?

12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

It is at this point that the two prophets, Enoch and Moses, differ. Enoch simply obeyed and his weakness in speech became mighty. Moses, however, still had his doubts at his ability and asked for the Lord to send someone else.

Exodus 4:13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.

Unlike Enoch, who the Lord blessed with powerful speech, Moses lost the ability to have that gift because of his fear or lack of confidence, either in the Lord or in himself, and the Lord provided Aaron to be his spokesman.

Exodus 4:14 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.

15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.

16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.

17 And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

Do we ever lose out on blessings because we are too fearful to heed the calling of the Lord? Do we recoil at assignments given to us because of our lack of confidence? Can we gain all the strength the Lord has to offer us if we give in to that fear of inadequacy?

President Monson instructed us in a talk he gave in the October 2008 Priesthood session of General Conference called “To Learn, to Do, to Be” how we can be profitable servants in the sight of our Lord. He explained:

“First, learn what we should learn. Second, do what we should do. And third, be what we should be. By so doing, the blessings of heaven will attend. We will know that we are not alone.”

Although I believe that Moses was one of the greatest prophets that the Lord has sent, and that he is a Priesthood keyholder of prominent importance even still today, something can be learned by this example. For me, it shows us how fear and a lack of confidence can prohibit us from gaining the strength the Lord is willing to provide for us if we are faithful and obedient to his will. After all, the Lord promises, “he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong.”

Enoch was blessed immediately with mighty speech, Moses just had to wait a little longer to gain that blessing. This is one of the reasons I really love Moses. He simply had to learn some things the hard way. Perhaps I can relate much more easily with Moses.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Temple, The Great Magnifier

In 1832, during the month of September, the elders who had been sent on missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had started returning to Kirtland, Ohio. It was a time of joy and reunion as they returned to give their homecoming reports regarding their labors in the eastern states. During this time the Lord, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, blessed them with continued instruction about the priesthood that they held, and the blessings that are promised to those who magnify their callings in that priesthood. Section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants is that recorded revelation.
Although Section 84 is known as the revelation on the oath and covenant of the Priesthood, it explains in beautiful detail the blessings that are given to the saints through the Melchizedek priesthood. Up until this point those who held the Melchizedek priesthood were given authority to use it solely to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, and to manifest all other blessing through the gifts of the spirit. Even though these blessings of the priesthood are necessary for salvation, I believe the Lord was attempting to teach them of the greater blessings that would be given because of this priesthood. These greater blessings are manifest only in the Temple of the Lord.
The ordinance of Baptism is given through the ministrations of the Aaronic priesthood, or preparatory priesthood. This priesthood holds the keys for this ordinance.
Doctrine and Covenants 84:26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;
27 Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, ...
The gift of the Holy Ghost, which is given following baptism, is an ordinance that requires the Melchizedek priesthood. The Holy Ghost is the avenue by which the power of godliness is manifest.
Doctrine and Covenants 84:19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
The Holy Ghost is given to members of the Church to help them to progress further in their walk with God. This gift is only magnified by the ordinances received in the Temple.

To magnify something is to make it bigger or enlarge it. The Melchizedek priesthood, which these 1832 Elders held, allowed them to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost. They were admonished to continue on in that endeavor until the full magnification of the Melchizedek priesthood could be given within the sacred walls of the Temple. This enlarging process is one in which ordinances are administered in the Temple wherein the “fullness” of the Holy Ghost can be manifest. Thus, the gift of the Holy Ghost would become magnified as well.
The Temple of the Lord allows both men and women to magnify the priesthood of God, enlarging on the responsibilities that both are given. The woman’s role of providing physical birth is enlarged by the sanctification process which is felt in the Temple unto the renewing of these bodies. The men’s role, which is the responsibility of providing for spiritual birth, or administering the gift of the Holy Ghost, is enlarged by the process of receiving the fullness of the Holy Ghost in the Temple.
The Temple is the place where our baptismal covenants become magnified as well. We partake of the Sacrament to renew those covenants weekly, but upon entering the Temple those covenants become magnified or enlarged. With the enlarged covenants, greater obedience is required, and by law, we are given greater or magnified blessings culminating in the “Fullness”.
Doctrine and Covenants 84:33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
39 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.
Yes, the Temple is the great magnifier.