Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Path

I'm writing this to disclose the path I have chosen. I want to explain in my own words, as simply and clearly as I can, why I am choosing this path:

Ever since I was little I enjoyed stories from the scriptures about the ministering of angels, the great faith of the Brother of Jared, and Moses seeing God's face. I'll admit that I was intrigued. Those people were well acquainted and familiar with the voice of the Lord. I want the same faith.

Prophets play an important role in God's plan. They have been indispensable in showing the human family how to approach God. Prophets teach us that faith must be placed only in God. I've always felt that salvation is between God and myself–nobody else. After all, the source of all power comes from God.

In church I grew up with the ideal of the importance of following the prophet. If you do, you won't be led astray. I'm not going to get into whether prophets can lead you astray or not. My concern is whether this modern teaching(1) will make us reach higher. Will we grow comfortable to their trust and heed to all the words of the prophet? Do we acknowledge our duties and responsibilities in seeking God's voice and take the Spirit as our sole guide (2)?

Now I see the Book of Mormon as a guide that shows me how to truly seek God–face to face. The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, making your calling and election made sure, and the Second Comforter are all important principles to me. The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is the minimum requirement for entrance into the Celestial Kingdom. It's a deeply important occurrence, and one that doesn't just happen by confirmation. I am striving so that all ordinances are ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise; all ordinances must be. It's knowledge that will save us, not the lack of it. I also believe that the end of faith should be a perfect knowledge, achievable in this life.

What is it going to take in these last days to build Zion? I believe it will take all of those said principles. It starts individually. I want to live like Christ is here. Christ will dwell in Zion. I hope to be well-acquainted with His voice to help in building up Zion (3).

How is this going to be? The scriptures also talk about servants in the last days that will come out to prepare His people. I believe these servants will come in a manner like Samuel the Lamanite, Abinadi, and John the Baptist. I have learned hard lessons that it is always about the message and not the messenger. I believe the servants are now here and among us.

I'm going to be baptized again. I have been told by the Lord to do so. I was baptized when I was eight, but this time the wording will be as 3 Nephi 11:25. The church had been commissioned to baptize, but now I believe we live in days like that of Alma the younger. I'm not joining a new church, but will be among a community of believers.

But this is a crazy period of time we live in. We live in days where even the very elect can be deceived and where people seek to walk in their own ways. How can I be sure this is the right path? 

I desire and seek God's will. My journey is taking place with a covenant that I obey His voice. I can't deny the experiences I've had the past few years. I can't deny what I know is right; nor can I deny the fruit of my faith.

What about the blessings of the temple I miss out on? I believe the true purpose of the temple, as purposed for our day, is to see the Lord's face. And my marriage? God told me I would marry my wife long before I believed it to be true. Knowing that it is His will that I am with her is witness to me of the covenant I already have between God and my wife. If God preserves my marriage, it will be because it mirrors that union found in Heaven, sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. I'm concerned for the salvation of my family, and I'm moving forward in efforts to do so. With all my weaknesses and sins, I know that only God has the power to save. I seek His voice for the salvation of my family.

I am grateful for all the church has provided to me and my family, spiritually and temporally; but I can't pretend to believe that all is well, or will be, in the church. All that Isaiah prophecies parallels our day. What he prophecies is sobering and should be alarming. What people claim to be led by a prophet? What people are a temple-going people? What people claim to be a covenant people of the Lord? I have found his words to be very valuable and of great worth to study. God wants us to learn through revelation. It is one of the necessary elements through which we act in faith (4).

I don't claim to understand my path fully at this time. I don't claim to be worthy of any of those blessings, but strive to seek them in humility, acknowledging the source of all blessings. I do know that God wants me to be baptized. I do know that God wants us to obtain those higher blessings. I hope we can seek Him and reclaim these blessings that we might bear His presence when He comes again.

(1) Elder Nelson, Oct 2014 General Conference:
Our sustaining of prophets is a personal commitment that we will do our utmost to uphold their prophetic priorities. Our sustaining is an oath-like indication that we recognize their calling as a prophet to be legitimate and binding upon us.
Trust me! These 15 men—prophets, seers, and revelators—know what the will of the Lord is when unanimity is reached!
Wilford Woodruff:
I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. ( The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [1946], 212–13.)
I say to the Latter day Saints, the keys of the kingdom of God are here, and they are going to stay here, too, until the coming of the Son of Man. Let all Israel understand that… . No man who has ever breathed the breath of life can hold these keys of the kingdom of God and lead the people astray. ( The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [1946], 73–74.)
(2) Joseph Smith:

...if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall—that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves.

(3) Joseph Smith:


As a Church and a people it behooves us to be wise, and to seek to know the will of God, and then be willing to do it; for “blessed is he that heareth the word of the Lord, and keepeth it,” say the Scriptures. “Watch and pray always,” says our Savior, “that ye may be accounted worthy to escape the things that are to come on the earth, and to stand before the Son of Man.” If Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and the children of Israel, and all God’s people were saved by keeping the commandments of God, we, if saved at all, shall be saved upon the same principle. As God governed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as families, and the children of Israel as a nation; so we, as a Church, must be under His guidance if we are prospered, preserved and sustained. Our only confidence can be in God; our only wisdom obtained from Him; and He alone must be our protector and safeguard, spiritually and temporally, or we fall.

We have been chastened by the hand of God heretofore for not obeying His commands, although we never violated any human law, or transgressed any human precept; yet we have treated lightly His commands, and departed from His ordinances, and the Lord has chastened us sore, and we have felt His arm and kissed the rod; let us be wise in time to come and ever remember that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

(4) Lectures on Faith:

[Three] things are necessary for us to understand, respecting the Deity and our relation to him, in order that we may exercise faith in him for life and salvation…What are they? First, that God does actually exist; secondly, correct ideas of his character, his perfections and attributes; and thirdly, that the course which we pursue is according to his mind and will. (Lecture 3:3-5.)

…How are we to be made acquainted with the before-mentioned things respecting the Deity, and respecting ourselves? By revelation. (Lecture 3:6.) Could these things be found out by any other means than by revelation? They could not.

EXTRA:

29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!
30 And Moses gat him into the camp, he and the elders of Israel. (Numbers 11)

Ezra Taft Benson, (General Conference Oct 1967):

Yes, it is the precepts of men versus the principles of God. The more we follow the word of God, the less we are deceived, while those who follow the wisdom of men are deceived the most. Increasingly the Latter-day Saints must choose between the reasoning of men and the revelations of God. This is a crucial choice, for we have those within the Church today who, with their worldly wisdom, are leading some of our members astray. 

19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—
20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
21 That faith also might increase in the earth;
22 That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
23 That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers. (D&C 1)

Following Man vs Following God


The following is a very simple and clear analysis of the difference between following a prophet and following God:
1 Kings 13:8-24 & 1 Kings 17:8-24
The Man of God and the Prophet
8 And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:
9 For so was it charged me by the word of the Lord, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest. 
He knew from the start what God commanded him.
10 So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Beth-el.
11 ¶Now there dwelt an old prophet in Beth-el; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Beth-el: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.
12 And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah.
13 And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon,
14 And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am.
15 Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.
16 And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place:
17 For it was said to me by the word of the Lord, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.
18 He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.
19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water. 
He took no thought to what was asked. He trusted the prophet, yet knew what God initially asked of him.
20 ¶And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back:
21 And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee,
22 But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers. 
For going against what God asked of him, he became cursed.
23 ¶And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back.
24 And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase. (Old Testament, 1 Kings, 1 Kings 13)
That is the fruit of following man.
Elijah and the Widow
8 ¶And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. 
The widow also was initially commanded by the Lord.
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. 
She did what the Lord initially asked of her; she knew of the great sacrifice it would cost.
13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah. 
Her faith brought much fruit; but even after her faith, she endured a hard trial:
17 ¶And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?
19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
20 And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.
22 And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. 
The fruit of a true prophet:
23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.
24 ¶And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth. (Old Testament, 1 Kings, 1 Kings 17)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Idols


I have been pondering a little about idols recently.
Perhaps worshiping idols is more subtle than we realize. Recognizing these idols is pretty easy. I think we have done fairly well in identifying modern idols; there's television, entertainment, movies, work, money, video games, social media, internet, etc. You really have to know what they are for yourself.
But how do we really identify our own personal idols? How many are there? This is really what I've been learning lately. The thought posed is, am I willing to give up what I'm doing at any moment to serve the Lord? When God speaks to me, will I listen and obey? Would I feel bothered? “Stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23). What is it that is preventing me from doing so? There is your idol.
It doesn't stop there, it only begins. Perhaps you can say, yes, I can stop doing this so I can serve the Lord. The question now is, will you? Will you now give up that idol to serve the Lord? Can I give up my idol so that I can serve without reservation, hesitation, and with gratitude? Will you destroy your idols and instead now begin sacrificing for the Lord? Sacrifice your time in more prayer, scripture study, service of your fellow man, preparing your household? Ultimately sacrificing for Him a broken heart and contrite spirit? I don't think God is concerned so much for our worthiness as He is our willingness. Worthiness is completely overrated. We're always unworthy before Him, but can we be more willing? The idol must be replaced by serving God.
Repentance becomes ever more clear now that we can identify and remove our idols. True repentance, in my mind, is cutting out anything in your life that prevents you from drawing closer to the Lord. We can better see our condition when we see how attached we may be to our idols. It takes discipline to rid ourselves of them. The children of Israel were warned not to take part in the idol culture of their neighbors. Our culture is filled with vain attachments:
18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope: (Isaiah 5)
After we rid ourselves of idols, it is merely a question of need. Because we live in a telestial state, we have to attend to the needs of our body. We have to rest, we have to eat, and we must work, etc. Idols are born through misuse and excess.
4 Any thing on which we set our affections; that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment.
An idol is any thing which usurps the place of God in the hearts of his rational creatures. (Webster's 1828 Dictionary: Idol)
The first time I heard God's voice (or at least recognized it), I had just turned twenty. I was seeking things I shouldn't and I had a choice to make. In the moment of my decision-making and leaning towards the poorer of the choice, God spoke. He said, “you don't need that”. It is amazing to me looking back and seeing how those few words changed the course of my life. God's words are powerful. That has been a more pure form of faith to me; hearing God's direct word of assurance that gave me the drive to change the course of my life. I had known it was time for me to change, and God finally called me on it. Do we really need our idols? Ask yourself sometimes, do I need this?
My life since then has veered off the course at times, but I've always meant to get back on the course. Now what I find is, in hearing the voice, will I hearken to His voice? Am I willing to completely give up my idols? Am I willing?
Are you? Will you give up your idols and begin to sacrifice to God?
5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5)
**EDIT:

The following is additional information I came across. I thought it was very worthwhile to add.

 5 July-
12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. (2 Corinthians 8)
20 July-
10 And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father? (2 Nephi 31)
24 July-
Avraham Gileadi commentary of Isaiah:
31:6 Return to him from whom you have contrived to go far astray, O children of Israel. …
31:7 … For in that day every one of you will despise your idolatrous silver and gold by which your hands have incurred guilt.
Similar to Isaiah 30:22 in its censure of idolatry, this appeal to God’s people to abandon their culture of materialism ends the homiletic theme of chapters 28,29,30,31. What more proof do his people want of God’s desire to deliver them from destruction in his Day of Judgment? Or what additional evidence do they need that idolatry brings covenant curses? Parallel verses show that his people’s giving up the things they covet that money can buy defines repentance itself. To “repent” (šwb) of worshiping idols, in other words, is the same as to “return” (šwb) to their God (cf. Isaiah 42:17–23; 55:2, 7).

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I Know Nothing


I just feel to declare today that in the grand scheme of things, I know nothing.
I also feel to declare that the greatest leader is God. The only true Leader. Prophets are not leaders. Prophets are teachers. As for truth, true prophets point us to Christ and free us from leaders. I am persuaded that nobody speaks for God, but God does speak to us individually. When someone speaks to us by the power of the Holy Ghost, we must hear that Spirit–not the man. It is then that God speaks to someone, and that no man speaks for God. Even when a man says “thus saith the Lord”, it is measured the same way. I don't believe that phrase is meant to be understood that the man is speaking for God. It is my understanding that God will speak to us individually through the power of the Holy Ghost. God speaks for Himself.
1 And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.
2 But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught. (2 Nephi 33)
I only hope to persuade any one person to awake from their slumber and arise towards their duty to God. Follow the light, the Holy Spirit, the mind of God. This should be your only guide. God is the Leader. In everything there is a choice to be made. My efforts are to always point to God, for He knows all things.

**EDIT:

Sometimes we look to a prophet or authoritative figure to validate truthfulness or credibility. The truth is in the words, and God will validate them through the Spirit. When Christ was on the earth, there was no visible, bona fide authority that He had (Isaiah 53:2). He was/is the truth and the light. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Spirit and Science


This is an interlude post, but it will still fit in with the next post. I want to highlight my main ideas. Keep in mind that I make no claim to be a scientist whatsoever. In fact, if you can add to these thoughts I would appreciate it.
If one believes in spirit matter, it opens up the realm for infinite potential. It brings with it a perspective for eternity. It also makes us wonder about our own potential, the reality of good and evil, and begs the question for the existence of God.
Spirit is a basic principle in religion. Science is much dependent on empirical evidence. With this empirical evidence we can observe and share knowledge, at the same time, with each other. Testimony is only second-hand evidence, and is not considered empirical. However, I can still know of spiritual things that are testable and observable individually, but that spiritual knowledge is not transferable. Therefore, spirituality must be experienced by the individual themselves rather than relying on the lack of empirical evidence. Everyone has spiritual experiences to different degrees.
Thus, one has to seek out God to find Him. One has to actively seek Him out or will never know Him. One can logically pass off the existence of God; but once the inklings of spiritual things are recognized through experience, that recognition will grow into spiritual knowledge just as our knowledge with empirical evidences.
I thought I'd add this, too. Something I wrote a while back, but the same idea:
Science uses the observation and experimentation of “empirical and measurable evidence” (Wikipedia). “Although other sources of evidence, such as memory, and the testimony of others ultimately trace back to some sensory experience, they are considered to be secondary, or indirect” (Wikipedia). Spiritual experiences are not considered empirical evidence. Therefore, one must obtain the spiritual experience for him/herself for it to be validated, observed, and measured. Spiritually speaking, this must be done, and can only be done by the individual. Ultimately, that source is God. Additionally, those that do not seek God will never find Him, because they do not seek Him.
This is why Paul says, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
God is the one in control of it. Let no person or thing come between you and God. Have faith in God only:
116 Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him; (Doctrine and Covenants, Doctrine and Covenants, D&C 76)
Joseph Smith:
…when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.
Try looking at the following videos I've discovered, as well:

Saturday, May 3, 2014

God and Mammon

Now, back on track:
24 No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. (3 Nephi 13)
Notice that there is no middle ground in the choice placed before us. So, what is Mammon all about?
Here's some insights from Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion:
The Hebrew word for financial activity of any kind is mamonut, and the financier is a mamonai; that is, financing is, quite frankly, in that honest language, the business of Mammon. From the very first there were Latter-day Saints who thought to promote the cause of Zion by using the methods of Babylon. Indeed, once the Saints were told to make friends with the Mammon of unrighteousness (D&C 82:22), but that was only to save their lives in an emergency. We have the word of the Prophet Joseph that Zion is not to be built up by using the methods of Babylon. He says, “Here are those who begin to spread out buying up all the land they are able to do, to the exclusion of the poorer ones who are not so much blessed with this worlds goods, thinking to ley foundations for themselves only, looking to their own individual familys and those who are to follow them… . Now I want to tell you that Zion cannot be built up in eny such way [sic].”
So then, how should it be?:
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6)
The theme of pride that is always talked about in the Book of Mormon is most often associated with money and riches, not merely the attitude of pride itself. It's our dependence that we give ourselves to it that seems to change the attitude. So then, to whom do we owe all allegiance and dependence?:
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6)
A misunderstood scripture! In other words, we must seek the kingdom of God only. That doesn't mean we can seek out riches once we think we're more aligned with God. For, we never stop seeking the kingdom of God, nor righteousness. But if we need it [those other things], it will be added to us. In fact, God will freely give us what we need. Seeking those treasures is a lack of confidence in God. He gives us the gifts so we can do the important work–His work.
17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.
18 Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment. (D&C 104)
The abundance is everything we don't need. This is a pretty common law in the scriptures. On the other hand is withholding what God gave us freely in excess; this is the cruelty of pride. How big of a deal is this?
49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. (Ezekiel 16)
So, what kind of laws are we supposed to obey? What of the law of tithing? What about serving a mission? This is supposed to be the easy stuff, in my opinion. It's pretty straight forward. God tells us exactly what to do with our money and time in those situations. It's what you do with the rest of the 90% of your income and time that really matters. It's the giving of our excess.
Our zeal shouldn't move faster than our knowledge. We must do it with faith and some assurance of how to move forward with these things. Sacrifice is a true principle, though. As we draw near to God, listening and hearkening to His voice and His promptings, He promises to draw near to us. God has set forth His law. We have covenanted to obey it. That's for an upcoming post.
However, let us never suffer the beggar to put up his cup in vain. King Benjamin is clear in teaching that it does not matter what circumstances we find a beggar. We are not to judge. We give. One's prosperity, or lack of, does not determine one's alignment with God. What if the beggar was God's angel? Would/should that make a difference? Is it cruel not to give when God has freely given to us? Paying money by checking all the boxes in the tithing slip is not sufficient. It's filling in the need where you see a need to be filled. It's giving when you can give. It's seeking out those in need. I think that's the law it is teaching.
Are we going to let the system of Mammon in charge of the poor? Do we depend on the Government for that? Where does the responsibility lie? This is God's system:
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done. (Mosiah 4)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Do What Thou Wilt"

I'm delaying my originally intended post again, but apparently this is important now.

Thelema is the popular philosophic choice in the world today. Do what really pleases you, and to your hearts desire. It will free you, and anything asking abstinence from anything is restrictive and unhealthy. Freeing yourself by doing what you will allows the person to engage in what is truly moral. This because we desire what we are denied, and thus will be engaged in more meaningful pursuits rather than being in servitude.
…or so it goes. A doctrine purposefully crafted to exclude divine assistance–especially God. This doctrine may be more popular than we'd like to think in the world. Even in our mainstream culture. I don't really want to go into how infiltrated it is in our society. It's not pleasant to study.
There is an alternate course. A much better one, in my opinion!
David of the Old Testament speaks of it. His son is about to be king and is to build a temple, because David cannot:
17 I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.
18 O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:
19 And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heartto keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision. (1 Chronicles 29)
It is instead to do God's will. It is to love Him and keep His commandments. Yeah, there are probably better scriptures out there, but I'm reading the Old Testament right now.
I'll bet that I can make a case that 'following your heart' (or to 'listen to your heart') is not so much a virtue than we think it is. It is certainly a glamorized doctrine nowadays, though. Here's an example of why it shouldn't be:
26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. (Proverbs 28)
The key here is the following of one's “own heart” we should avoid, as I've made in bold. This is not the path we should follow, no matter what we are told by the world. Instead, we should love the Lord with all our heart. It is to become like God and do as He would do. Essentially, it's hearkening to His voice. Try doing a search in the scriptures for “own heart” and see what you find. I have a few journal entries full of related examples. It's a clear and prevalent doctrine taught against in the scriptures. Maybe I'll make a post on that later on, or you could just email me for them if you'd like.
We cannot leave God out of the equation. All doctrines fail without Him, and most doctrines in the world replace Him. And we can't do it our way. It must be His we seek. May we do the following instead:
5 ¶Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7 ¶Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3)
And now that you probably have Roxette's Listen to Your Heart stuck in your head (like I did), here's something I just found upon posting this. Click here.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

God Lives!

Just an interlude post :)
We can't make God into a religion when He is a living being. Christ is our direct foundation, with no one in between us and Him. Only He has the power to save. Whatever path we're on, He will straighten it for us if we seek/love Him with all our heart.
We seek Him directly in thought and deed. We won't find Him if we just hide behind the scriptures all day. Only God can make the scriptures come alive to you because God lives! He gives life to all things! When we serve Him, He makes our work fruitful.
Give your time to Him (sacrifice) and talk to Him; meaningful time spent in the spirit of pure intent, worship, and praise. You may be surprised by what you find. Talk to Him throughout the day. Listen to Him. Council with Him. He wants us to repent and be willing to give up our will. We will struggle sometimes, and the world will hate you the closer you are to Him; but it won't be so bad because we will love God. We will find comfort in Him because He lives! He won't reveal Himself to us if we won't draw near to Him. He requires our whole heart; the goal is to get there, and He can show us how it is to be done.
I know God lives!
37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day. (Alma 37)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Earning or Blessing?

In the broad scheme of things, can we really say we earn anything? Everything granted us in our lives is a free gift from God.
So, earning or blessing? If you really persist, I'll go as far as to say that we can earn a dollar, but we can't earn wealth.
17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. (Deuteronomy 8)
…But if you really think about it, how far does that thought take you? To start off, the word 'earn' isn't even used in scripture. The word that comes close is 'merit'. That word is only used twice in all of scripture. Go ahead and look it up.
God gave us everything we have as a gift–free of charge! When it comes down to it, the only one we are in debt to is God. We can't even boast of earning something because He gave us the capacity to do it in the first place. How can we claim to earn anything when we can't even live one second without God's power? We can't. We can only work to obtain it by the very capacity He has given us. Even eternal life, one of the greatest gifts, is indeed a gift–not earned. God truly is the author of our salvation.
Since I'm saying that everything is free and is a gift from God, I'm not saying we can just stay stagnant. We still work, but God gives the increase:
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. (Corinthians 3)
Why is this and how is it done?:
7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) (2 Corinthians 5)
God shows us what we need to do, and we obey. Faith is a gift, always born through exposure of the Spirit. I talk more on this kind of faith here.
What we obtain in the end is through what we work towards. In Babylon, I can actually earn a dollar (granted that God gave me the capacity) for the wages prescribed to me. This world is all about money. You can buy anything here with money. Everything asked of us is for an exact price. What do we work for in Zion? How does Babylon operate? How far does our work carry us?
From Approaching Zion:
…The work ethic, which is being so strenuously advocated in our day…is one of those neat magician's tricks in which all our attention is focused on one hand while the other hand does the manipulating. Implicit in the work ethic are the ideas (1) that because one must work to acquire wealth, work equals wealth, and (2) that that is the whole equation. With these go the corollaries that anyone who has wealth must have earned it by hard work and is, therefore, beyond criticism; that anyone who doesn't have it deserves to suffer—thus penalizing any who do not work for money; and (since you have a right to all you earn) that the only real work is for one's self; and, finally, that any limit set to the amount of wealth an individual may acquire is a satanic device to deprive men of their free agency—thus making mockery of the Council of Heaven. These editorial syllogisms we have heard a thousand times, but you will not find them in the scriptures. Even the cornerstone of virtue, “He that is idle shall not eat the bread … of the laborer” (D&C 42:42), hailed as the franchise of unbridled capitalism, is rather a rebuke to that system which has allowed idlers to live in luxury and laborers in want throughout the whole course of history. The whole emphasis in the holy writ is not on whether one works or not, but what one works for: “The laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish”(2 Nephi 26:31). “The people of the church began to wax proud, because of their exceeding riches, … precious things, which they had obtained by their industry” (Alma 4:6) and which proved their undoing, for all their hard work.
God's system of Zion is not to work for money, but to work for Zion. If we really want wealth in this life, we can have it. I'm convinced that anyone can have it. There are doctrines that support that and ways to achieve it. Ultimately, though, God is in charge. I'll talk more about that in another post.
7 The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them. (1 Samuel 2)
We must be careful to think we merit any blessings because of our righteousness. It may only be because we are more righteous than the wicked. The wicked are granted gifts also, and we should respect what God grants them:
4 Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee.
5 Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 9)
Work ethic is so hard pressed nowadays that one may feel guilty for receiving something for free. We have to work hard for what we earn–whether for money, spiritual gift, or even God's forgiveness. We have to feel like we earned it. But it was always meant to be free, as a gift from God, in whom our focus should be in the first place. The gifts are for the benefit of drawing near to God. We just have to do as He asks and love Him with full purpose of heart. If God gives so liberally, how then should we give?
As a side thought, what right does anyone have to take away God's gift from anyone? But God gives to all, good and evil. Don't deny the gifts of God. Believe that you can receive all of God's gifts. Again, doing so by loving Him with all our hearts. We work for Him. What system do we support, Babylon or Zion? Can Zion mix with Babylon? How does God want us to support His laws in the terrestrial world we live in?
When we see the Savior, we will know in whom all power resides. We will confess our unworthiness. It is done through His grace, as a gift accepted in humility, that we are saved.
10 And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears. (3 Nephi 17)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spiritual Technology

I don't remember how this idea really came about, but I think about it every now and then.
There are all kinds of prevalent technologies in this modern era we live in. It's very fascinating and exciting to me! I personally think we need a boom in power technology. Oil and gas seem old fashioned nowadays since there are better things out there.
These technologies range from electronic technology, mechanical technology, medical technology, etc. The technologies I mentioned are, what I think, external technologies. They are telestial technologies, if you will. We rave about the latest technologies–the latest iPhone, electric vehicle, television set, etc. So, why do I call these “telestial technologies”?:
13 And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God.
14 For whatsoever things remain are by me; and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed. (D&C 132)
Maybe that's a stretch for some. Well, just roll with it for a second. I believe there must be celestial technologies also. We don't think of it like that, though. And by celestial technology, I'll say spirit technology–an internal technology. I think our spirit is capable of any of these external technologies and more; speed travel, higher states of consciousness, pure forms of communication, etc. Think of some yourself! What is the spiritual technology counterpart of an external technology? Pretty cool to think about, right?
This is why I believe in a technology that the world knows and understands very little about. I believe that our own bodies and spirits have the potential of a celestial nature, which isn't possible with these external/telestial technologies. With this celestial technology, our bodies and minds will be able to comprehend in immeasurable ways compared to these lower technologies (e.g., electronic communication). Pure information, knowledge, and truth is possible with spiritual technology. Because I believe this spiritual ability is celestial, the telestial technology isn't capable of discovering it–it must come from within us; it must come from a higher source to us; it comes by a personal relationship with God and seeking His perfect will for us. Eventually, the telestial technology isn't even needed, because a practice of celestial laws prepare us for something greater.
From Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion:
There is full-time employment for all simply in exploring the world without destroying it, and by the time we begin to understand something of its marvelous richness and complexity, we'll also begin to see that it does have uses that we never suspected and that its main value is what comes to us directly from mere coexistence with living things—the impact on our minds and bodies, subtle and powerful, that goes far beyond the advantages of converting all things into cash or calories.
…With our present limited knowledge we could devise a perfectly practical order of things in which there would be no need for doctors, lawyers, insurance men, dentists, auto mechanics, beauticians, generals, real estate men, prostitutes, garbage men, and used-car salesmen. Their work is justified as an unpleasant necessity, yet there have been successful human societies in which none of those professions existed, any more than dukes, earls, and kings need to exist in our society. Nature around us, such of it as has remained, admonishes us that paradise is a reality. Through modern revelations we have learned that Zion also is a reality. Paradise is the proper environment of Zion. Here we are faced with a clear-cut proposition that recent developments of world history, if nothing else, admonish us we can no longer afford to ignore. The Tenth Article of Faith contains our future: our glory or our condemnation.
My hope is that this may convince others that a higher power does exist. If one merely believes in spirit matter, there must be some greater potential that we can attain. Our spirit and bodies, our soul, are in a telestial state. To what extent can we enjoy these spiritual technologies in this life? Or should I say spiritual gifts? Our Heavenly Father has great gifts for us to enjoy in this life if we work for it! You know the scriptures.
So, what of all these external technologies?:
President Joseph Fielding Smith marveled at the technological advances of his day. “Great progress has been made in mechanics, chemistry, physics, surgery, and other things,” he said. “Men have built great telescopes that have brought the hidden galaxies to view. They have, by the aid of the microscope, discovered vast worlds of microorganisms. … They have discovered means to control disease. … They have invented machines more sensitive than the human touch, more far-seeing than the human eye. They have controlled elements and made machinery that can move mountains, and many other things have they done too numerous to mention. Yes, this is a wonderful age.” However, he was concerned about another trend he saw in the world. He lamented: “All of these discoveries and inventions have not drawn men nearer to God! Nor created in their hearts humility and the spirit of repentance, but to the contrary, to their condemnation. … Faith has not increased in the world, nor has righteousness, nor obedience to God.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith, Chapter 1: Our Father in Heaven)
Don't get me wrong, technology has been great for us; but I can't help but wonder what we could have enjoyed! Our society, any society in the history of the world, passed up Zion for…external technologies? For some reason we prefer these lower technologies. Would we prefer to talk to God on our iPhone? Why would our “need” of the external technologies be extinguished?
From Approaching Zion:
Arthur C. Clarke writes that within the foreseeable future all the most powerful and lucrative callings in our world will exist no more. Because of new processes of synthesizing, organizing, programming basic materials of unlimited supply into the necessities of life, we shall soon see “the end of all factories, and perhaps all transportation of raw materials and all farming. The entire structure of industry and commerce … would cease to exist; … all material possessions would be literally as cheap as dirt… . [Then] when material objects are all intrinsically worthless, perhaps only then will a real sense of values arise.”
Essentially, Babylon will cease whereas Zion will thrive. We will not be working for money, but rather building up and working for Zion. This won't happen magically, but through living higher laws of the Gospel. I think learning how to live these laws and incorporating them in our lives would be necessary; but it must be done by knowledge as much as zeal.
Zion is attainable now, but we all have to prepare. Let's forget about these external technologies! Let's hone in our spiritual technologies through prayer, study, and worship! God delivers, I promise. He'll more than make up for what we will pass up. What we are capable to experience with the spiritual faculties are much greater! Yet, we can't ignore our telestial state of existence. We still have to serve and do many good works. But if we do it with an eye single to the glory of God, obeying His voice, we'll see miracles. It may very well be difficult, but if we can find comfort in Him rather than these external technologies, we're on the right track. If we're going to use them then let's use them for good. The less time we waste, the better. Let's bring about Zion.