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Showing posts from June, 2008

Defending and preserving traditional marriage

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Yesterday, in some wards in our stake here in California, a letter from the First Presidency was read. In the letter, it was requested that we do all that we can to support the proposed constitutional amendment on preserving traditional marriage here in California. In particular, we were asked to donate of our means and time to assure the passage of the ballot measure.

My wife reports that the letter was read in our home ward, while the bishop of the ward in which I serve had not yet received it. I have read reports that the letter was read in other states beside California, along with commentary that members in those states should support the efforts here. As far as I can determine, nobody got up and walked out in protest like some had suggested.

This invitation is to members of the church to become active in what some describe as a political issue. The church has made it clear over the years that this is a moral issue. That is why back in 2000 we were asked to place signs on our …

The sacred power of marriage

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I come from a typical post-WWII California family. My parents were married in 1946 and had seven children within ten years. We were not LDS at first. Although we had our quarrels and disagreements, I grew up with happy memories of a loving family with four older sisters and one brother, my other brother having died shortly after his birth.

Although I don’t remember much of the first few years of my life, we have family videos that show lots of happy scenes – visits to parks, local Southern California attractions and vacations. Because both my parents worked, my grandmother took care of me until I was old enough for school. Life was good in our little family growing up in the sixties.

As I matured, I observed my parents in a different way for the first time – as a married couple. I watched how my father treated my mother. He was and is a kind and gentle man. He adored my mother and wanted to give her everything he could to help her be happy. I know she loved and appreciated him …

The near death experience of an apostle

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In keeping with the instruction from Brother Brigham in yesterday’s post, I add today the words of Heber C. Kimball, also from remarks made at the funeral of President Jedediah M. Grant, who died of pneumonia at the young age of forty, while faithfully serving in the First Presidency with Brigham and Heber. Again, the source is the Journal of Discourses, Volume 4, pp. 135-138 and the date is December 4, 1856.

“Jedediah is not dead. I went to see him one day last week, and he reached out his hand and shook hands with me; he could not speak, but he shook hands warmly with me. I felt for him, and wanted to raise him up, and to have him stay and help us whip the devils and bring to pass righteousness.

“I laid my hands upon him and blessed him, and asked God to strengthen his lungs that he might be easier, and in two or three minutes he raised himself up and talked for about an hour as busily as he could, telling me what he had seen and what he understood, until I was afraid he would weary…

Brigham Young teaches about evil spirits

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And now, a few words of instruction from Brother Brigham on the subject of the evil spirits in the world around us. The occasion was the funeral of President Jedediah M. Grant on December 4, 1856. The Source is the Journal of Discourses, vol 4, pp. 129-134.

"…when I die…I do not wish any of you to cry and feel badly, but prepare yourselves to fight the devils while you live, and after you pass through the veil...there we will do a great deal more than we can here.

"Brother Grant can now do ten times more than if he was in the flesh...He is in the spirit world. He has conquered death and hell...He is no more subject to the devils...he commands them, and they must go at his bidding; he can move them just as I can move my hand.

The righteous have power over evil spirits

"When men overcome...they have power over all disembodied evil spirits...Those evil spirits are under the command and control of every man that has had the Priesthood on him, and has honored it in the flesh,…

Doctrines of the Book of Abraham

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In our Institute class last night we began to study the Book of Abraham. The instructor covered the origins of the book in short order. None of the students had any questions about the papyri or the mummies or the translation process or the discovery of the fragments. Neither did I as I have written about this previously. The Book of Abraham contains much unique LDS doctrine.

Note the facsimile above. It is a print from a woodcut that Joseph asked an early member of the church to make. It has accompanied the Book of Abraham each time it has been printed. It is simply fascinating and depicts Abraham being sacrificed on the altar by the priest of the Pharaoh. He was saved by the angel.

Even though Abraham was in Chaldea, many miles away, the government and religion of Egypt were dominant in the civilized world at that time, about 2000 B.C. The world had been inundated by the flood some 400 years earlier so there were not a lot of people on the earth. One of the descendants of Ha…

Advice for a new Bishop

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What advice would you give to a new bishop? I suppose it would depend on the makeup of the ward, wouldn't it? A singles ward is vastly different from a family ward. I serve as the ward clerk of our local stake young adult ward. We do not have concerns about staffing the Primary or the Young Men or Young Women's organizations. Our biggest budget expense is for activities.

I don't think I am revealing any church secrets when I share that one of the primary concerns of the bishop of a young singles ward is helping the ward members understand and accept the direction of the Lord in regards to keeping oneself morally pure. The youth of today's world are subject to temptations that just did not exist when I was dating and preparing for marriage.

Dealing with moral issues

Perhaps you would suggest to the bishop that he become very familiar with Elder Holland's wonderful address to BYU students over twenty years ago that is still just as applicable today, "Of Souls…

My experience with the temple

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I have been impressed with the work Bryce Haymond is doing over at TempleStudy.com. I am particularly pleased with the sacred and reverent manner in which he treats the subject matter. His essays on the temple are thought-provoking and illuminating. I would not have thought that one could find enough material to fill an ongoing blog on Temples, but he has proved otherwise. I should not be surprised. The temple has often been referred to as the Lord's university.

Bryce's work has not gone unnoticed. Other bloggers I respect like S.Faux on Mormon Insights have recommended the essays and unique perspectives there. Besides temples in general, you can read about endowments, garments, prayer circles, the veil, ordinances and commentary from Hugh Nibley, one of my favorite LDS scholars. I encourage you to visit Bryce's site to see for yourself. I could spend hours there and always come away enlightened and uplifted.

It is OK to talk about the temple

In the church we are oft…

The Lord is pouring out his spirit

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In the LDS church we often think of a spiritual experience as a dream or a vision or a distinct impression to take some action or a warning to avoid some course of action. These are the kinds of experiences that many church leaders have shared over the years as evidence of God’s interest in us and our welfare. A classic example is the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead as found in section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

However, the spiritual experiences I am most familiar with are those that come with the exercise of the gifts of the spirit. For example, when I am asked to teach or to speak in church I make it a matter of prayer and sometimes fasting. I ask the Lord for inspiration in knowing what to prepare and what he would have me say. I then practice my remarks and ask the Lord specifically for the gift of teaching or the gift of speaking under the influence of the spirit.

The spirit gives utterance

The Lord answers my prayer, sends his spirit and I feel that what I have prepa…

A call for more personal revelation

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While serving as a missionary in Central America in 1976, we taught the people how important it was to receive personal revelation. If there was anything we brought up in every discussion, it was the need for the individuals we were teaching to have private personal experiences with the spirit of the Lord in prayer. Each time we met we would ask, "have you prayed about what you are reading in the Book of Mormon?"

That would immediately get to the point. With one question we could tell if they were reading and if they were praying. Sometimes we would phrase the request as, "tell me how you have felt as you have prayed about the Book of Mormon." Yes, it put the people on the spot but we were bold missionaries and that was our job - to invite people to discover the truth for themselves.

By their response we knew if we were being effective in our efforts. We could usually sense if they had any questions and just how sincere they were in accepting our challenge to r…

Benefits of LDS blogging

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I was asked by a BYU public relations research student on behalf of the More Good Foundation to explain why I blog on LDS topics. I have been thinking about the answers I provided and thought they might be helpful for others to share them here. I want to encourage members of the church to add their voice to the community, especially if you are thinking about a solo blog.

I began my blog last year in an effort to provide commentary on the news and political events from an LDS perspective. My original intent was to comment on the attention the church has been receiving because of Mitt Romney. It bothered me to see so many pundits online spouting stuff about what we believe when they really had no idea, or were sadly mistaken in their views.

My blog has now evolved into a vehicle for essays on various doctrinal issues that trouble some people. It changed when Elder Ballard invited the members of the church to be more active in the new media. I wonder if he wasn't thinking of all…

Another visit to the spirit world

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I am fascinated with the spirit world. I never tire of learning more about it. Although I have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all my life, I have barely scratched the surface of understanding what the Lord has revealed on this subject already. In reading the Pearl of Great Price this morning, the subject of the spirit world came up again.

I have pondered on the idea of where the dead go many, many times over the years. It might be helpful to review what it is that Mormons believe about life after death. First, we believe that the spirit world is all around us, right here on the earth. Although God, our Heavenly Father is not limited to this earth, the spirits of those who have died remain here and are around us.

For some who may have never pondered this before, it can be a little disconcerting and causes them to feel uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it is true and has been taught by almost every prophet of the restoration since Joseph Smith first revealed i…