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Showing posts from October, 2008

LDS Church growth slows in United States

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I feel a desire to move beyond the provincial, local view of my LDS experience and step up to a larger worldview. This is going to be hard for me because except for the two years I spent in Central Americaas a missionary (1976-1978), I have not traveled much beyond Southern California and Utah. My career just has not required much travel of me. I like that just fine.

Now I know some of you are world travelers and according to Google Analytics, some of my readers are in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, South Korea, Finland, Philippines, New Zealand, India, Taiwan, Japan, Norway, Brazil and the list goes on and on. I have had visitors from 95 countries in the last six months, the latest just today from Belgium.

Take a look at Miguel Lomelino’s blog. He was my visitor from Belgium today. I think he has got a great world view already. He is reaching out to LDS members in the United States and has a lot of material that is from all over the world. I’m impressed…

Fighting against the work of the Lord

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One of the reasons I started this blog was to provide personal motivation for gospel study. I like to think that by sharing insights and commentary on some aspect of the gospel in written form, that it becomes clearer to me and solidifies my thinking. This is the same reason I always get more out of a talk or a lesson that I prepare – because of the hours of study behind the summary.

I’ll warn you up front that this essay is going to be a little bit deep and perhaps a little out there, even for me. If you’ve been following my blog you know that I have tackled a few subjects that might be considered controversial. I’ve tried to address a lot of the things that I have read about in the Ex-Mormon and Anti-Mormon websites, mainly because I wondered how I would answer.

I’ll cut right to the point. We believe that one of the purposes of this life is to prove to ourselves and to the Lord that we are on his side when it comes to the fight against evil. Right now, a very visible part of th…

Significance of the Garden of Gethsemane

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Carol and I took a short trip to Utah this weekend. It is a drive we have made three or four times a year for the last twenty six years. The occasion was the 90th birthday party for Carol’s dad. There were over 140 in attendance, mostly descendants, so we held it in the cultural hall of the Brigham City 9th ward. It was wonderful to get away for a while.

On the way up Carol read to me from Gerald Lund’s third book in the series of historical fictional novels about the New Testament called The Kingdom and the Crown. The third book is entitled, Behold the Man. Gerald Lund was recently released from the Second Quorum of the Seventy. His numerous publications have sold nearly three million copies.

The book details the last week in the life of Jesus of Nazareth — his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the spiritually fulfilling Last Supper, and the crowning achievement of the atonement that begins in the Garden of Gethsemane and culminates in the Garden Tomb. Brother Lund is a master sto…

Public rebuke from an apostle

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How would you respond if you were publicly rebuked by an apostle in front of thousands of people who you knew and loved? Would it be any easier if it were done in private? Those are questions that I hope I will never have to answer. Brigham Young is one example in our early history who was rebuked by Joseph Smith in front of his peers. We know how he responded.

One of the responsibilities of an apostle is to ensure that correct doctrine is taught, especially in an environment where young impressionable minds are searching for the truth and building their testimonies. What an apostle teaches us about our relationship to the Godhead is very important and something to which we should give heed. We can apply it in our own efforts to know Christ.

Know Your Religion lectures

When I was preparing for my mission, I attended Know Your Religion lectures with my mother and sister. This unique aspect of LDS gospel training and scholarship is no longer offered, or at least not here in Californ…

Thus saith Boyd K. Packer

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I love reading and hearing Boyd K. Packer. I always have. The man is a conduit for those who love and those who hate the established, traditional ways of the church. I love tradition and am not fond of change. President Monsonreminded us several times in this last General Conference that change is one of the most certain things we will deal with in this life. He also implied that change is coming.

By now you have probably received a copy of President Packer’s talk given the week following General Conference in his home ward in Salt Lake City. It is highly unusual for such a complete transcription of a talk not intended for public consumption to be so well documented. Ordinarily I would not write about a private talk like this. It goes against my judgment to just leave it alone.

Someone called church headquarters and asked it was real. They confirmed that he did speak, that they were aware that it has been circulating, but that it was not intended for anyone other than his own w…

Speak of the devil

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I taught the junior class in seminary this morning and yesterday morning as a substitute teacher. There’s nothing quite like getting up at 5am to teach early morning seminary in California. It brought back such happy memories of my high school days when I attended seminary in the old Covina ward building. The kids today seemed happy to be there and I was happy to teach them.

We were supposed to cover chapter nine of the gospel according to Mark this morning but the get acquainted activity I had planned took way too long to get to the lesson. Besides, it was Friday and the 18 kids enjoyed the fun we had with the activity. So I thought I would share something I learned as I prepared the lesson that I didn’t deliver. I hope you find it interesting.

The boy possessed of an evil spirit

Although the Transfiguration is the main point of Mark chapter nine, that topic was already covered earlier in the year when Matthew chapter 17 was taught. So the lesson focused on the Savior healing the…

Faith and fear cannot coexist within us

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I see the world through a spiritual perspective developed at age 18 while preparing for a mission. In a previous essay, I shared my sacred experiences in gaining a testimony. I did not think they were all that unique at the time. I thought everyone else followed the same formula. Blogging over the last year has been a real eye-opener for me. Not every member has this same certainty.

Elder James Hamula, sustained in April 2008 General Conference as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy said, “If there is anything that qualifies me for this calling it is the testimony that I gained at age 18 while I prepared for a mission. I had a most remarkable experience where I received a strong witness of the divinity of the Lord and of His Church.”

Like me, he read of how the young Joseph Smith wanted to know what was right, and felt that he too needed to go to the Lord in prayer. “So I knelt at my bedside and earnestly prayed to the heavens. And in response I got an answer that was as cl…

Interest in LDS church increases with criticism

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When I was called into the Bishopric, I replaced a man whom I admire greatly. Peter Lassen is a humble follower of Jesus Christ who loves his family, his country and his church. He is a very successful businessman who manages a string of health food stores here in Ventura County. He has also become the target of an attack of hatred by those who are opposed to what he believes.

Because in the State of California all political contributions over $1,000 are recorded with the Secretary of State, anybody can view, download and do whatever they want with this public information. What they did was to write a scathing attack on this good man accusing him of hatred and bigotry because he did what a prophet asked him to do to support a good cause.

He was singled out because the contribution was large and because he is well known in the local area. I and 61,000 other people have also contributed of our means to this cause but we have not been singled out in such a public manner. The way the …

Mocking Mormons is not a new sport

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I suppose I should be flattered. There are severalsitesoutthere that troll the Bloggernacle just looking for conservative bloggers that take themselves too seriously. I’m probably one of them. So I’m pleased to have been given a nice LOLcat award for some poor wording on a recent post about the Yes on 8 ads and kids being taught about same-sex marriage in public schools.

This California Prop 8 thing has been getting pretty intense in the news lately. It is probably very disconcerting to the more liberal denizens of the ‘nacle who are opposed to the church’s involvement in this issue. It will probably only get more heated over the next three weeks. I hope our political views will not get in the way of our love of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Mormon blogging is a small world

I have a sneaking suspicion that the only people who read my blog are other LDS bloggers. So my original intent in reaching out to those not of our faith was well-founded but perhaps not so very realistic. I hav…

Shopping for a Celestial Marriage

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The last line of Elder Nelson’s conference talk states that we “may be assured of exaltation in the kingdom of God.” What an amazing promise. He makes this wonderful declaration to the Saints conditional upon several requirements. In doing so, he is speaking on behalf of the Lord as a prophet and apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is only repeating what the Lord has promised.

One of those requirements of course, is to be married in the temple and to have that marriage sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Elder Nelson’s discourse is entitled Celestial Marriage, which is another name for temple marriage. What he taught on Sunday afternoon was not new. He did not share anything that we haven’t been taught in the church for as long as I can recall.

Teaching with patterns

And yet, there were some who claimed that what he said was harsh, crude, unfair and unkind. They seemed particularly upset that he had used a shopping analogy which he called, “patterns of the shopper.” Go figure…