Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Moses Chapter One

There is an important article written by Hugh Nibley on Moses Chapter 1 about the opening of the last dispensation.  Both Gospel Doctrine students and students of the Pearl of Great Price Class should read this article.

Click here to read the article.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pearl of Great Price Class

The Pearl of Great Price Class begins on Thursday, January 7, at the Granite Stake Tabernacle, at 2005 South 900 East, in Sugar House. The class starts at 7:00 pm and ends at 8:30 pm. Parking is usually sparse as some semesters classes are very large, so come early. The texts are the scriptures and the Institute Pearl of Great Price Manual. The manual can be purchased at the Distribution Center. 

You can register by phone at: (801) 422-8925 or
You can register online at: ce.byu.edu/ed, Then go to Adult Religion Classes then to: For a current list of classes by Stake (in red), then to: Salt Lake County, then to: Salt Lake Granite Stake Robert J. Norman $22.50 register online now.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The New Jerusalem Built Before Second Coming

This process of building and strengthening the great tent of Zion will continue until the dawning of the millennial day, when the King of kings will return in power and glory to dwell upon the earth. Then will the saints of God "break forth [in] joy" (Mosiah 15:30) as the scattered sheep of Israel gather to Zion and fulfill the marvelous millennial promises so long foretold by the scriptures. The New Jerusalem in America will have been built before that glorious Second Coming of Christ. To that Holy City will come Enoch of old and all his city. "And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then [that is, after Christ's Second Coming] shalt thou and all thy city meet them there [that is, in Zion, the New Jerusalem], and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other; And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, . . . and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest." (Moses 7:63-64.)  
            (Alexander B. Morrison, Visions of Zion, p.7)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Family Watch International

Please be aware of this very important site for the preservation of families worldwide. 

Family Watch International

As link to this site is also provided on this blog under "Good Sites."

Sharon Slater is the president of Family Watch International.  Here is her biography that was published in Meridian Magazine and online LDS magazine.

Sharon Slater and her husband Greg reside in Gilbert, Arizona with their four children. Sharon has served as President of United Families International (UFI) for the past two years, and previously served for two years as the President of United Familes Arizona. She and her husband have traveled throughout the world attending United Nation conferences to promote family provisions in UN documents. They also have traveled throughout Africa promoting UFI's Stay Alive, HIV/AIDS abstinence based education program. The Slaters are in the process of adopting three orphans from Mozambique, Africa. Before marrying Greg, Sharon served a mission in Costa Rica and Panama. Sharon is a graduate of BYU in the field of Family Sciences.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Literal Kingdom of God

Let us understand that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the literal kingdom of God in the earth; that neither defectors from within nor enemies from without can stay its progress. It is here to stay and to triumph. In the words of Moroni, "The eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled"  (Morm. 8:22).     
Righteousness in the end is to prevail in this dispensation. So said the Lord himself in his reply to Enoch's query,    
Wilt thou not come again upon the earth?    
[He said] As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance.    
And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the  children of men, but my people will I preserve. [The Lord is here talking to Enoch, long before the flood, concerning our day, the last gospel dispensation. He continued]    
And righteousness will I send down out of heaven [Think of angel  Moroni  and the other messengers from heaven who came to the Prophet Joseph Smith!]; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men [Think of the Book of  Mormon  and its testimony of Christ!]; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood [Think of the missionaries as they go out today and as they will go out in greater  numbers  in the immediate future, sweeping the earth as with a flood of truth and righteousness!], to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.    
And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us.    
And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the peace of a thousand years the earth shall rest  (Moses 7:59-64).     
It is Zion, as portrayed in this scripture, for which we are preparing ourselves and which we shall yet build, which has held the righteous on course in all dispensations. It will so hold us if we keep it in view and individually commit ourselves to meet Alma's charge to "look to God and live."    
To these truths I bear solemn witness in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.    
            (Marion G. Romney, Look to God and Live , p.13-14)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Visions, Mysteries And Miracles

Visions of a Personal Nature—I ask, Is there a reason for men and women being exposed more constantly and more powerfully, to the power of the enemy, by having visions than by not having them? There is and it is simply this—God never bestows upon his people, or upon an individual, superior blessings without a severe trial to prove them, to prove that individual, or that people, to see whether they will keep their covenants with him, and keep in remembrance what he has shown them. Then the greater the vision, the greater the display of the power of the enemy.

(Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 338.)

As I read the above statement my President Brigham Young, I can't help but think of the night when the Prophet Joseph Smith was beaten and tarred and feathered, and Sidney Rigdon was dragged by his heels over the frozen ground until he was unconscious.  This took place shortly after they both had received the vision of D&C 76 which revealed the three degrees of glory.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

From Wickedness of this World to Highest Kingdom - Brigham Young

We are inhabitants of a world of sin and sorrow; pain and anguish, every ill that can be heaped upon intelligent beings in a probation we are heirs to. I suppose that God never organized an earth and peopled it that was ever reduced to a lower state of darkness, sin and ignorance than this. I suppose this is one of the lowest kingdoms that ever the Lord Almighty created, and on that account is capable of becoming exalted to be one of the highest kingdoms that has ever had an exaltation in all the eternities. In proportion as it has been reduced so it will be exalted, with that portion of its inhabitants who in their humiliation have cleaved to righteousness and acknowledged God in all things. In proportion to our fall through sin, so shall we be exalted in the presence of our Father and God, through Jesus Christ and by living the righteousness of his Gospel. All this the people will understand in due time through their faithfulness, and learn to rejoice even in the midst of afflictions.

(Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 10: 175.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Crowned With Immortality And Eternal Life

In D&C 138:51 it reads,
These the Lord taught, and gave them power to come forth, after his resurrection from the dead, to enter into his Father's kingdom, there to be crowned with immortality and eternal life,

The following experience is recorded in the Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney,

He [Joseph Smith] saw the Twelve going forth, and they appeared to be in a far distant land. After some time they unexpectedly met together, apparently in great tribulation, their clothes all ragged, and their knees and feet sore. They formed into a circle, and all stood with their eyes fixed upon the ground. The Savior appeared and stood in their midst and wept over them, and wanted to show Himself to them, but they did not discover Him. He [Joseph] saw until they had accomplished their work, and arrived at the gate of the celestial city; there Father Adam stood and opened the gate to them, and as they entered he embraced them one by one and kissed them. He then led them to the throne of God, and then the Savior embraced each one of them and kissed them, and crowned each one of them in the presence of God. He saw that they all had beautiful heads of hair and all looked alike. The impression this vision left on Brother Joseph's mind was of so acute a nature, that he never could refrain from weeping while rehearsing it.  (emphasis added)
            (Heber C. Kimball, Journal, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, p.93)

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Divine Potential of Women by Elder James E. Talmage

The Divine Potential of Women


In the restored Church of Jesus Christ, the Holy Priesthood is conferred, as an individual bestowal, upon men only, and this in accordance with divine requirement. It is not given to woman to exercise the authority of the priesthood independently; nevertheless, in the sacred endowments associated with the ordinances pertaining to the house of the Lord, woman shares with man the blessings of the priesthood. When the frailties and imperfections of mortality are left behind, in the glorified state of the blessed hereafter, husband and wife will administer in their respective stations, seeing and understanding alike, and cooperating to the full in the government of their family kingdom. Then shall woman be recompensed in rich measure for all the injustice that womanhood has endured in mortality. Then shall woman reign by divine right, a queen in the resplendent realm of her glorified state, even as exalted man shall stand, priest and king unto the most high God. Mortal eye cannot see nor mind comprehend the beauty, glory, and majesty of a righteous woman made perfect in the celestial kingdom of God. (Young Woman's Journal, Oct. 1914, 602-3.) (emphasis added)

(LDS Women’s Treasury: Insights and Inspiration for Today’s Woman [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 461 - 462.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Return of the Ten Tribes of Israel

D&C 133:26–34 . What Do the Saints Know about the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:
“When Shalmanezer overran the Kingdom of Israel (about 721 B.C. ), he carried the Ten Tribes comprising that kingdom captive into Assyria. From thence they were led into the lands of the north and have been called the Lost Tribes because they are lost to the knowledge of other people. ( 1 Ne. 22:4 .) ‘We have no knowledge of the location or condition of that part of the Ten Tribes who went into the north country.’ ( Compendium. p. 88.)
“Esdras, an apocryphal writer, records this version of their escape from Assyria: ‘Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea the king, whom Salmanasar the king of Assyria led away captive, and he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land. But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt, That they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land . And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow passage of the river. For the most High then shewed signs for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over . For through that country there was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half: and the same region is called Arsareth. Then dwelt they there until the latter times; and now when they shall begin to come, The Highest shall stay the stream again, that they may go through.’ ( Apocrypha, 2 Esdras 13:40–47.)
“Commenting on this, Elder George Reynolds has written: . . .
“‘Is it altogether improbable that in that long journey of one and a half years, as Esdras states it, from Media the land of their captivity to the frozen north, some of the backsliding Israel rebelled, turned aside from the main body, forgot their God, by and by mingled with the Gentiles and became the leaven to leaven with the promised seed all the nations of the earth? The account given in the Book of Mormon of a single family of this same house, its waywardness, its stiffneckedness before God, its internal quarrels and family feuds are, we fear, an example on a small scale of what most probably happened in the vast bodies of Israelites who for so many months wended their tedious way northward. . . .’ ( Are We of Israel, pp. 10–11.)
The Lost Tribes are not lost unto the Lord . In their northward journeyings they were led by prophets and inspired leaders. They had their Moses and their Lehi, were guided by the spirit of revelation, kept the law of Moses, and carried with them the statutes and judgments which the Lord had given them in ages past. They were still a distinct people many hundreds of years later, for the resurrected Lord visited and ministered among them following his ministry on this continent among the Nephites. ( 3 Ne. 16:1–4 ; 17:4 .) Obviously he taught them in the same way and gave them the same truths which he gave his followers in Jerusalem and on the American continent; and obviously they recorded his teachings, thus creating volumes of scripture comparable to the Bible and Book of Mormon. ( 2 Ne. 29:12–14 .)
“In due course the Lost Tribes of Israel will return and come to the children of Ephraim to receive their blessings. This great gathering will take place under the direction of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for he holds the keys. . . . Keys are the right of presidency, the power to direct; and by this power the Lost Tribes will return, with ‘their prophets’ and their scriptures to ‘be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim.’ ( D. & C. 133:26–35 .)
“At the October, 1916, general conference of the Church, Elder James E. Talmage made this prediction: ‘The tribes shall come; they are not lost unto the Lord; they shall be brought forth as hath been predicted; and I say unto you there are those now living—aye, some here present—who shall live to read the records of the Lost Tribes of Israel, which shall be made one with the record of the Jews, or the Holy Bible, and the record of the Nephites, or the Book of Mormon, even as the Lord hath predicted; and those records, which the tribes lost to man but yet to be found again shall bring, shall tell of the visit of the resurrected Christ to them, after he had manifested himself to the Nephites upon this continent.’ ( Articles of Faith, p. 513.)” ( Mormon Doctrine, pp. 455–58.)
For a discussion of the role of John the Beloved with the ten lost tribes, see Notes and Commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 7:3–6 .

(Institute Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual pp. 340-341)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Historical Context of D&C 136

At early candle-light I met with the Presidency at the west school room, in the Temple, to attend to the ordinance of anointing our heads with holy oil; also the Councils of Kirtland and Zion met in the two adjoining rooms, and waited in prayer while we attended to the ordinance. I took the oil in my left hand, Father Smith being seated before me, and the remainder of the Presidency encircled him round about. We then stretched our right hands towards heaven, and blessed the oil, and consecrated it in the name of Jesus Christ.
The Prophet Blessed to Lead Israel in the Last Days.    
We then laid our hands upon our aged Father Smith, and invoked the blessings of heaven. I then anointed his head with the consecrated oil, and sealed many blessings upon him. The Presidency then in turn laid their hands upon his head, beginning at the oldest, until they had all laid their hands upon him, and pronounced such blessings upon his head, as the Lord put into their hearts, all blessing him to be our Patriarch, to anoint our heads, and attend to all duties that pertain to that office. The Presidency then took the seat in their turn, according to their age, beginning at the oldest, and received their anointing and blessing under the hands of Father Smith. And in my turn, my father anointed my head, and sealed upon me the blessings of Moses, to lead Israel in the latter days, even as Moses led him in days of old; also the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. All of the Presidency laid their hands upon me, and pronounced upon my head many prophecies and blessings, many of which I shall not notice at this time. But as Paul said, so say I, let us come to visions and revelations.
The Prophet's Vision of the Celestial Kingdom; Alvin Smith.    
The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell. I saw the transcendent beauty of the gate through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire; also the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son. I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold. I saw Fathers Adam and Abraham, and my father and mother, my brother, Alvin, that has long since slept, and marvelled as that he had obtained an inheritance in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set His hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.    

Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying-    
            All who have died without a knowledge of this Gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God; also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom, for I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.
The Salvation of Children.    
And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability, are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven. I saw the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, who are now upon the earth, who hold the keys of this last ministry, in foreign lands, standing together in a circle, much fatigued, with their clothes tattered and feet swollen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus standing in their midst, and they did not behold Him. The Savior looked upon them and wept.
           (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts, 2:, p.379-381)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Latter-day Saints Civic Responsibilities

In our ward gospel doctrine class the lesson for next week is #44 Being Good Citizens.  Also, in my night institute class we will be covering D&C 134 on Thursday, December 3.  Section 134 deals with governments.  Connor Boyack did an excellent post on his blog "Connor's Conundrums" which I am going to post here for those in my gospel doctrine class and my institute class.  It has excellent quotes from prophets, seers, and revelators on our civic responsibilities as citizens.  It also answers the question that is sometimes asked, "why doesn't the Church give us more direction for what we should be doing politically?"

The Civic Duty of the Latter-day Saints

Posted by Connor on November 19th, 2009
The following is the text of a lecture I gave last night to the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Utah Valley University:

Throughout the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, those who have been sustained as its leaders have repeatedly spoken out on political matters. This has occurred not so much because prophets feel it their duty to opine on controversial topics of temporal relevance, but because the spiritual and temporal elements of our lives are understood by the Latter-day Saints to be, at their core, one and the same.
We have therefore received instructions and commandments regarding our civic duty right alongside similar commandments regarding our spiritual duties as members of the Church. Home teaching, magnifying our callings, temple worship, and paying our tithes and offerings are on an equal platform, to some extent, with our activities to study, support, and defend the principles of liberty and our republican government.
John Taylor spoke of this intertwining of our responsibilities when he said that the Elders of Israel should "understand that they have something to do with the world politically as well as religiously, that it is as much their duty to study correct political principles as well as religious" (Journal of Discourses, 9:340). Further, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said (emphasis in all quotes is my own):
To worship the Lord is to stand valiantly in the cause of truth and righteousness, to let our influence for good be felt in civic, cultural, educational, and governmental fields, and to support those laws and principles which further the Lord’s interests on earth.
I will warn you at the outset that I will be generously referring to the teachings of men far wiser than myself—men who we Latter-day Saints regard as prophets, seers, and revelators. The quotes I’ll be sharing clearly explain what the civic duties of Latter-day Saints are. We’ll then take a look at how well we are fulfilling those duties, and what their attending promises are if we act as we are told to.
On July 20, 1833, the first open violence against the Saints in Jackson County broke out. The printing press owned by William W. Phelps was destroyed, many of the Saints were turned out of their homes, and Edward Partridge and Charles Allen were tarred and feathered on the public square in Independence, Missouri. (Text taken from LDS Institute manual)
Sections 97 and 98 of the Doctrine and Covenants were given by the Lord as an anticipatory response to the Saints’ natural desire for revenge. Verse 9 of Section 98 contains the truism "when the wicked rule the people mourn"—a succinct summary statement of what the early Mormons had to deal with. After this assessment, the Lord provided the following counsel to the Saints:
Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.
This, then, is the charge given to the Latter-day Saints in regards to choosing leaders in government: seeking and supporting honesty, wisdom, and goodness. A casual analysis of our current political landscape would find few instances of the aforementioned virtues. We seem to be repeating the mistakes of the past, learning for ourselves the truism that has never changed: "when the wicked rule the people mourn."
A summary of our civic duty
This significant scriptural passage is an important subset of the civic duties we have as Latter-day Saints and members of the Constitutional Republic in which we live. Perhaps the best summary of our civic duty, and all that it entails, was given by President Ezra Taft Benson in 1986. Prefacing his summary, he said the following:
We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: "Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction."
And then the summary—please pay close attention to the specific items he lists:
Will we be prepared? Will we be among those who will "bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction?" If we desire to be numbered among those who will, here are some things we must do:
1. We must be righteous and moral. We must live the gospel principles—all of them. We have no right to expect a higher degree of morality from those who represent us than what we ourselves are. In the final analysis, people generally get the kind of government they deserve. To live a higher law means we will not seek to receive what we have not earned by our own labor. It means we will remember that government owes us nothing. It means we will keep the laws of the land. It means we will look to God as our Lawgiver and the Source of our liberty.
2. We must learn the principles of the Constitution and then abide by its precepts. We have been instructed again and again to reflect more intently on the meaning and importance of the Constitution and to adhere to its principles. What have we done about this instruction? Have we read the Constitution and pondered it? Are we aware of its principles? Could we defend it? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? The Church will not tell us how to do this, but we are admonished to do it. I quote Abraham Lincoln: "Let [the Constitution] be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges, let it be written in primers, in spelling books and in almanacs, let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation."
3. We must become involved in civic affairs. As citizens of this republic, we cannot do our duty and be idle spectators. It is vital that we follow this counsel from the Lord: "I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn. Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil. And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God" (D&C 98:8-11).
Note the qualities that the Lord demands in those who are to represent us. They must be good, wise, and honest. Some leaders may be honest and good but unwise in legislation they choose to support. Others may possess wisdom but be dishonest and unvirtuous. We must be concerted in our desires and efforts to see men and women represent us who possess all three of these qualities.
4. We must make our influence felt by our vote, our letters, and our advice. We must be wisely informed and let others know how we feel. We must take part in local precinct meetings and select delegates who will truly represent our feelings.
I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. But it will not be saved in Washington. It will be saved by the citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church—men and women who will subscribe to and abide the principles of the Constitution.
Righteous living
The first item in President Benson’s summary deals with our level of morality and virtue. To the outsider it may seem odd that the first listed item for a Latter-day Saint’s civic duty is to live a clean and just life, but here again we witness the fusion of temporal and spiritual matters into one.
Despite the high standard of striving for perfection, let us nevertheless remember that we are all imperfect beings tasked with a great work. President Gordon B. Hinckley reminded us this way:
…many of our forebears and those who built the foundations of this land were imperfect. They were human. They doubtless made mistakes and fell short from time to time. But the mistakes were minor when compared with the marvelous work they accomplished. To highlight the mistakes of a person and gloss over the greater good is to draw a caricature. Caricatures are amusing, but they are often ugly and dishonest. A man may have a wart on his cheek and still have a face of beauty and strength, but if the wart is emphasized unduly in relation to his other features, the portrait is lacking in integrity.
There was only one perfect man who ever walked the earth. The Lord uses imperfect people—you and me—to build strong societies. If some of us occasionally stumble, or if our characters may have been slightly flawed in one way or another, the wonder is the greater that we accomplish so much.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks linked this requirement of morality to civic virtue:
Those who enjoy the blessings of liberty under a divinely inspired constitution should promote morality, and they should practice what the Founding Fathers called "civic virtue". Citizens should be practitioners of civic virtue in their conduct toward government. They should be ever willing to fulfill the duties of citizenship.
President Benson cited these virtues that once made our nation great, and asked us regarding their place in our day:
Do we dare ask ourselves if the United States, though cast in the role of a leader to preserve and strengthen world civilization, isn’t itself tottering internally because too many of its citizens have abandoned the virtues that comprised the basic format of its own civilization? For instance, if spiritual faith, courage, and the willingness of our forbears to work hard were the sustaining virtues, and if, solely because of them, they were able to create our own civilization, can we now in the United States substitute for these virtues the human weaknesses of selfishness, complacency, apathy, and fear—and still hope to survive as a civilized nation? (An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 118)
Whether it carries the label of righteousness, morality, civic virtue, or otherwise, our civic duty presupposes living a life worthy of emulation and esteem.
Learning and abiding by constitutional principles
The second component of our civic duty, as suggested by President Benson, is to learn and abide by the principles found in our Constitution. Of course, one cannot abide by principles—let alone teach them to others—without first knowing and understanding them. In this regard, the counsel found in Doctrine and Covenants 11:21 has relevance, where the Lord counsels us to obtain his word before declaring it to others. We must be students of the Constitution before we become its teachers.
In your conversations with others, you will no doubt encounter a great deal of people who profess a belief in the divine origins of the Constitution, and claim to revere it as an important document. But few of these people will understand the historical setting in which it was created, the debates and discussions that resulted in its final draft, and the political implications its mandates have for our day. Perhaps you yourself fit in this category. What’s important, however, is that we are seeking to learn and understand, rather than remain in ignorance. Said President Benson:
We must study and learn for ourselves the principles laid down in the Constitution which have preserved our freedoms for the last two hundred years. If we do not understand the role of government and how our rights are protected by the Constitution, we may accept programs or organizations that help erode our freedoms. An informed citizenry is the first line of defense against anarchy and tyranny. (Provo Freedom Festival, Provo, UT, 29 Jun 1986)
Similarly, Elder H. Verlan Andersen wrote the following:
One who knows not what his rights are can never know when they are taken and is unable to defend them. He is like a man who believes he owns a piece of ground which his neighbor also claims, but he doesn’t know its boundaries. The neighbor continues to encroach further and further onto land he suspects is his, but since he is never certain where the boundary is, he cannot check the advance. Until he takes a firm position and says: "this far and no further," there is no line.
In a General Conference address some two decades ago, President Benson further drove this issue home, stating:
…we must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.
Have we read the Federalist papers? Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we aware of its principles? Are we abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it?
These questions, to be more effective, must be personalized. Have you read the Federalist Papers? Are you reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are you aware of its principles? Are you abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could you defend the Constitution?
Well did Thomas Jefferson say that "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free… it expects what never was and never will be." The freedom referenced by Jefferson was likewise mentioned by President Boyd K. Packer in July of this year:
To honor the Constitution and to honor freedom is a sacred duty for all of us. I invoke the blessing on you who are doing this sacred work that you will keep it up, and that in due time the challenges that we face now from within can be conquered so that this nation may remain free.
To honor the Constitution, we must understand it. It is essential that we know each of its particulars: why it was necessary; why its opponents disliked it; how it differs from other forms of government; how it has been under attack since its adoption; what it means for our day; and how the document enabled Americans to enjoy the freedoms that set them apart from almost every other civilization.
President J. Reuben Clark once said that "No true Latter-day Saint can or will do other than reverence the Constitution; each will do all in his power to save it from pollution or destruction." We are deceived, however, if we believe that verbal support and the occasional vote cast at the ballot box is all that is required of us once we have dedicated ourselves to learn and abide by Constitutional principles.
In section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord says that Zion is under condemnation for treating lightly the revealed scriptures, namely, the Book of Mormon. This condemnation, He said, would remain until we "repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which [He has] given [us], not only to say, but to do according to that which [He has] written." Here we find application for other divinely-inspired documents the Lord has given us, such as the Constitution, which themselves carry a charge and obligation to be read and acted upon. Note the gentle rebuke given by God: we are not only to say, but to do what these documents tell us.
Clearly, many people in our midst—perhaps even ourselves—have treated lightly the divinely-inspired Constitution, a document which Joseph Smith referred to as "a glorious standard" and "a heavenly banner". Our duty, once we have learned just what the Constitution is and implies, is to not only say what should be done about it, but to do it.
Involvement in civic affairs
This takes us to President Benson’s third component of our civic duty: involvement in civic affairs. To understand the importance of our involvement, we must first realize why our voices for positive change are needed. In the April 2008 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson offered this assessment of our current situation we are encouraged to improve:
We live in a complex world with currents of conflict everywhere to be found. Political machinations ruin the stability of nations, despots grasp for power, and segments of society seem forever downtrodden, deprived of opportunity, and left with a feeling of failure.
Perhaps with this same outlook on our circumstances, President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote the following:
We are involved in an intense battle. It is a battle between right and wrong, between truth and error, between the design of the Almighty on the one hand and that of Lucifer on the other. For that reason, we desperately need moral men and women who stand on principle, to be involved in the political process. Otherwise, we abdicate power to those whose designs are almost entirely selfish. (Stand a little Taller, pg. 15)
As individual political involvement continues to diminish, the sense of entitlement in our society seems to be inversely increasing. People want the government to improve their lives, but refuse to improve the government. Of those who harbor such feelings, Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said:
We live in a time when sacrifice is definitely out of fashion, when the outside forces that taught our ancestors the need for unselfish cooperative service have diminished. Someone has called this the "me" generation—a selfish time when everyone seems to be asking, what’s in it for me?
The worldly aspiration of our day is to get something for nothing. The ancient evil of greed shows its face in the assertion of entitlement: I am entitled to this or that because of who I am—a son or a daughter, a citizen, a victim, or a member of some other group. Entitlement is generally selfish. It demands much, and it gives little or nothing.
On a separate occasion, Elder Oaks spoke regarding these entitlements, or so-called "rights", as follows:
At a time when most of our public discourse concerns rights, it may seem strange to speak of responsibilities. But a democratic republic needs patriotic citizens who are fulfilling their responsibilities as well as claiming their rights. No society is so secure that it can withstand continued demands for increases in citizen rights without producing corresponding increases in the fulfillment of citizen responsibilities.
The real rights given to us by our Creator are accompanied by certain responsibilities that must be fulfilled if we are to preserve our ability to exercise those rights freely. Our involvement in civic affairs is one important part of ensuring that the liberty our ancestors fought dearly for remains intact and unadulterated.
In what civic affairs are we to be involved? The options here are as numerous as our different and unique abilities and opportunities. In October 2000, the First Presidency included in a letter to the general church membership the following statement:
As personal circumstances allow, we encourage men and women in the Church to serve in public offices of either election or appointment — including school boards, city and county councils and commissions, state legislatures, and national offices. (October 2000 First Presidency letter)
This statement is not unique, for similar counsel has been given both previous to and since the one here quoted. If anything, the need for our involvement has dramatically increased as the years progress. So, let us re-emphasize President Hinckley’s declaration that "we desperately need moral men and women who stand on principle, to be involved in the political process."
For whatever reason, however, the Latter-day Saints have largely ignored the clarion call to be anxiously engaged in political causes. President Benson characterized this reality in this manner:
The devil knows that if the elders of Israel should ever wake up, they could step forth and help preserve freedom and extend the gospel. Therefore the devil has concentrated, and to a large extent successfully, in neutralizing much of the priesthood. He has reduced them to sleeping giants. His arguments are clever.
Here are a few samples:
First: "We really haven’t received much instruction about freedom," the devil says. . . .
Second: "You’re too involved in other church work," says the devil. . . .
Third: "You want to be loved by everyone," says the devil, "and this freedom battle is so controversial you might be accused of engaging in politics." . . .
Fourth: "Wait until it becomes popular to do," says the devil, "or, at least until everybody in the Church agrees on what should be done." . . .
Fifth: "It might hurt your business or your family," says the devil, "and besides why not let the gentiles save the country? They aren’t as busy as you are." . . .
Sixth: "Don’t worry," says the devil, "the Lord will protect you, and besides, the world is so corrupt and heading toward destruction at such a pace that you can’t stop it, so why try." . . .
And now as to the last neutralizer that the devil uses most effectively—it is simply this: "Don’t do anything in the fight for freedom until the Church sets up its own specific program to save the Constitution." This brings us right back to the scripture I opened with today—to those slothful servants who will not do anything until they are "compelled in all things" [D&C 58:26]. Maybe the Lord will never set up a specific church program for the purpose of saving the Constitution. Perhaps if he set one up at this time it might split the Church asunder, and perhaps he does not want that to happen yet for not all the wheat and tares are fully ripe.
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared it will be the elders of Israel who will step forward to help save the Constitution, not the Church. And have we elders been warned? Yes, we have. And have we elders been given the guidelines? Yes indeed, we have. And besides, if the Church should ever inaugurate a program, who do you think would be in the forefront to get it moving? It would not be those who were sitting on the sidelines prior to that time or those who were appeasing the enemy. It would be those choice spirits who, not waiting to be "commanded in all things" [D&C 58:26], used their own free will, the counsel of the prophets, and the Spirit of the Lord as guidelines and who entered the battle "in a good cause" [D&C 58:27] and brought to pass much righteousness in freedom’s cause. . . .
Brethren, if we had done our homework and were faithful, we could step forward at this time and help save this country. The fact that most of us are unprepared to do it is an indictment we will have to bear. The longer we wait, the heavier the chains, the deeper the blood, the more the persecution, and the less we can carry out our God-given mandate and worldwide mission. The war in heaven is raging on the earth today. Are you being neutralized in the battle?
Forty-four years have passed since the Saints were asked this question. Have we improved? The need has never been greater to step forward and be actively involved in the developments of our community, state, and nation. As Elder L. Tom Perry has said, "we should use our free agency and be actively engaged in supporting and defending the principles of truth, right, and freedom." Going to vote on election day might make us feel like we’re involved, but if that is the extent of our involvement in civic affairs, then we have fallen short of the standard that is required of Latter-day Saints.
Making our influence felt
As we become more politically active in our communities, we will not only become better informed as to the troubles of our day and their possible solutions, but we will have more opportunities to share our knowledge and thoughts with others. Influencing others through a variety of methods is the fourth and final component of our civic duty.
We are all on a battlefront in the war of ideas, and even our involvement in civic affairs is not enough to oppose the enemy who is launching his attacks from every angle. Our petitions and votes and campaigns and any other product of our civic involvement matters little unless we convince those around us of the virtue of our cause. Without this secondary and supplementary goal, our work will soon be overturned by others who will one day take our place.
Along with our direct involvement in the political process, we must persuade and influence others. On this subject, President Hinckley has said:
I urge you with all the capacity that I have to reach out in a duty that stands beyond the requirements of our everyday lives; that is, to stand strong, even to become a leader in speaking up in behalf of those causes which make our civilization shine and which give comfort and peace to our lives. You can be a leader. You must be a leader
These words echo those of the Prophet Joseph, who said that "It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound" (History of the Church, 5:286). Thankfully, speaking up and making our influence felt is far easier today than it was when President Benson mentioned its importance over two decades ago. Elder M. Russell Ballard explains:
Today we have a modern equivalent of the printing press in the Internet. The Internet allows everyone to be a publisher, to have his or her voice heard, and it is revolutionizing society. Before the Internet there were great barriers to printing. It took money, power, influence, and a great amount of time to publish. But today, because of the emergence of what some call "new media," made possible by the Internet, many of those barriers have been removed. New media consists of tools on the Internet that make it possible for nearly anyone to publish or broadcast to either a large or a niche audience. … The emergence of new media is facilitating a worldwide conversation on almost every subject, including religion, and nearly everyone can participate. This modern equivalent of the printing press is not reserved only for the elite.
Are you part of that worldwide conversation? Where is your voice? Have you started a blog, shared ideas and quotes on Facebook, created viral videos, tweeted about political events, joined a relevant forum, created your own email list, written a pamphlet, started a network, or worked in some other way to influence those around you? The need for our leadership and influence, which President Hinckley described, was referenced by President Harold B. Lee in this way:
The kingdom of God must be a continuing revolution against the norms of the society that fall below the standards that are set for us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the field of public life, it must be a continuing revolution against proposals that contradict the fundamental principles as laid down in the Constitution of the United States, which was written by men whom God raised up for this very purpose. If we remember that, we will be in the forefront of every battle against the things that are tearing down our society.

The path that God has in mind for us may not involve holding elected office, but being a person of influence can in many ways have a greater effect upon the direction our society is headed. As part of being on that forefront of every battle, President David O. McKay once said that "every loyal member of the Church [should] look down with scorn upon any man or woman who would undermine [the] Constitution" (Church News, May 29, 1954). In light of our current political situation, there are, of course, limitless opportunities to look down with scorn upon those who are undermining this divinely-inspired document. But let us not forget that the Lord has counseled us to seek diligently for and uphold honest, wise, and good men. If our necks become sore from looking downward with derision at so many people, then the responsibility we have to find people we can look up to becomes all the more important.
To summarize our capacity to influence those around us, President McKay said the following half a century ago:
There is one responsibility which no man can evade and that responsibility is personal influence. Man’s unconscious influence, the silent, subtle radiation of his personality. The effect of his words and acts. These are tremendous. Every moment of life he is changing to a degree the life of the whole world.
Every man has an atmosphere which is affecting every other. Man cannot escape for one moment from this radiation of his character. This constantly weakening or strengthening of others. He cannot evade the responsibility by saying it is an unconscious influence. He can select the qualities he would permit to be radiated. He can cultivate sweetness, calmness, trust, generosity, truth, justice, loyalty, nobility, and make them vitally active in his character. By these qualities he will constantly affect the world. This radiation to which I refer comes from what a person really is, not from what he pretends to be. Every man by his mere living is radiating sympathy, sorrow, or morbidness, cynicism, or happiness or hope, or any other hundred qualities. Life is a state of radiation and absorption. To exist is to radiate. To exist is to be the recipient of radiation.
To radiate our positive influence in civic affairs, we must become righteous and moral; we must, as Ghandi once said, be the change we wish to see in the world. We need to learn and abide by the principles found in the Constitution, for as President McKay taught: "Next to being one in worshiping God, there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States!" (Instructor Magazine, 1956, 91:34). We must take that knowledge and understanding of the Constitution, and infuse our political system with its disinfecting simplicity and principled restraints; we must become leaders and work diligently to support good people in public office, or seek office ourselves. And finally, we must radiate our influence by exposing ourselves to those who might be impacted and uplifted by our actions, words, and character.
Repeated invitations
The challenge to be involved in the political process has not been extended only by one or two Church leaders. Indeed, there are numerous instances in which the Latter-day Saints have been counseled to become more involved. As President Harold B. Lee said, "Patriotism and loyalty in defense of the Constitution of the United States is constantly enjoined upon us" (BYU Leadership Week, June 16, 1953).
The following are but a few of the instances in which our leaders have given us such instruction. From a statement by President McKay in 1966:
In order that there may be no misunderstandings by bishops, stake presidents, and others regarding members of the Church participating in nonchurch meetings to study and become informed on the Constitution of the United States, Communism, etc., I wish to make the following statements that I have been sending out from my office for some time and that have come under question by some stake authorities, bishoprics, and others.
Church members are at perfect liberty to act according to their own consciences in the matter of safeguarding our way of life. They are, of course, encouraged to honor the highest standards of the gospel and to work to preserve their own freedoms. They are free to participate in nonchurch meetings that are held to warn people of the threat of Communism or any other theory or principle that will deprive us of our free agency or individual liberties vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.
The Church, out of respect for the rights of all its members to have their political views and loyalties, must maintain the strictest possible neutrality. We have no intention of trying to interfere with the fullest and freest exercise of the political franchise of our members under and within our Constitution, which the Lord declared he established "by the hands of wise men whom [he] raised up unto this very purpose" (D&C 101:80) and which, as to the principles thereof, the Prophet Joseph Smith, dedicating the Kirtland Temple, prayed should be "established forever." (D&C 109:54.) The Church does not yield any of its devotion to or convictions about safeguarding the American principles and the establishments of government under federal and state constitutions and the civil rights of men safeguarded by these.
. . . We therefore commend and encourage every person and every group who is sincerely seeking to study Constitutional principles and awaken a sleeping and apathetic people to the alarming conditions that are rapidly advancing about us.
From a First Presidency letter in 1973:
We urge members of the Church and all Americans to begin now to reflect more intently on the meaning and importance of the Constitution, and of adherence to its principles. (Ensign, Nov. 1973, p. 90)
From a First Presidency letter in 1976:
The growing world-wide responsibilities of the Church make it inadvisable for the Church to seek to respond to all of the various and complex issues involved in the mounting problems of the many cities and communities in which members live. But this complexity does not absolve members as individuals from filling their responsibilities as citizens in their own communities.
We urge our members to do their civic duty and to assume their responsibilities as individual citizens in seeking solutions to the problems which beset our cities and communities.
With our wide ranging mission, so far as mankind is concerned, Church members cannot ignore the many practical problems that require solution if our families are to live in an environment conducive to spirituality.
Where solutions to these practical problems require cooperative action with those not of our faith, members should not be reticent in doing their part in joining and leading in those efforts where they can make an individual contribution to those causes which are consistent with the standards of the Church.
Individual Church members cannot, of course, represent or commit the Church, but should, nevertheless, be "anxiously engaged" in good causes, using the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as their constant guide. (First Presidency letter, September 1, 1976)
From a First Presidency letter in 1979:
We encourage all members, as citizens of the nation, to be actively involved in the political process, and to support those measures which will strengthen the community, state, and nation—morally, economically, and culturally. (First Presidency letter, 29 Jun 1979)
From a First Presidency statement in 1987:
We encourage Latter-day Saints throughout the nation to familiarize themselves with the Constitution. They should focus attention on it by reading and studying it. They should ponder the blessings that come through it. They should recommit themselves to its principles and be prepared to defend it and the freedom it provides. (D&C 109:54.) . . .
Because some Americans have not kept faith with our Founding Fathers, the Constitution faces severe challenges. Those who do not prize individual freedom are trying to erode its great principles. We believe the Constitution will stand, but it will take the efforts of patriotic and dedicated Americans to uphold it. . . . We, as Latter-day Saints, must be vigilant in doing our part to preserve the Constitution and safeguard the way of life it makes possible.
This bicentennial year affords us renewed opportunities to learn more about this divinely inspired charter of our liberty, to speak in its defense, and to preserve and protect it against evil or destruction. (First Presidency letter, Jan 1987)
From a First Presidency statement in 1998:
Therefore, as in the past, we urge members of the Church to be full participants in political, governmental and community affairs. Members of the church are under special obligation to seek out and then uphold those leaders who are "wise", "good", and "honest". We wish to reiterate the divine counsel that members "should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness" while using gospel principles as a guide. (Ensign, Apr 1998, pg. 7)
And from a First Presidency statement in 2000, as quoted earlier:
As personal circumstances allow, we encourage men and women in the Church to serve in public offices of either election or appointment — including school boards, city and county councils and commissions, state legislatures, and national offices. (October 2000 First Presidency letter)
How have we done?
After these and other statements of encouragement and invitation, we should ask ourselves how we collectively have done. Numbers are hard to come by when trying to determine just how politically active the Latter-day Saints are, but anecdotal evidence suggests a percentage point in the single digits, depending on your criteria.
While voting in elections is hardly a fulfillment of one’s civic duty, it nevertheless is one small factor. Fortunately there is data to analyze in this regard, and so it may help shed some light on how well we are participating in the political process. The following information is one small look into the activity of Latter-day Saints in government.
A 2005 report by the Salt Lake Tribune shows that while the percentage is slowly declining, over 75% of residents in Utah County are members of the Church. Given its high concentration of Latter-day Saints, Utah County is the best option for determining the voting activity of Church members. This data is not, of course, statistically significant for the entire Church at large, but it still provides some interesting insights if interpreted correctly.
Consider, first, the following table which shows available election voter turnout for the past decade:

The above data is represented on the following graph:

Assuming that the 25% of Utah County who are not members of the Church did not significantly alter the overall voter turnout, this data shows a dismal rate of participation in something as infrequent and basic as casting a vote on election day.
If we Latter-day Saints cannot devote the time and energy required to study the issues and determine which candidates we will support, how will we ever rise to the higher bar of civic duty that has been enjoined upon us? In what may be termed as a rebuke in light of this dismal data, President Spencer W. Kimball said:
The only way we can keep our freedom is to work at it. Not some of us. All of us. Not some of the time, but all of the time.
So if you value your citizenship and you want to keep it for yourself and your children and their children, give it your faith, your belief, and give it your active support in civic affairs. (Teachings, 405)
Promises to America
This long regurgitation of quotes from Church leaders might, if not balanced, lead one to think of his civic duty as drudgery. The repeated invitations to become involved are not meant to impose an unnecessary burden or add another item to our ever-increasing checklists. Rather, they are an opportunity to repent and re-prioritize, so that we may fulfill our divinely-mandated duty to "exalt the standard of Democracy," as Joseph Smith said.
As with all other commandments and opportunities to serve, the call to improve our communities is accompanied by specific and uplifting promises. These promises are contingent upon our adherence to these invitations to act, for as the Lord said in the Doctrine and Covenants, "when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."
A promise that relates to all of us involved in this great work was summarized by President J. Reuben Clark in this manner:
For America has a destiny—a destiny to conquer the world—not by force of arms, not by purchase and favor, for these conquests wash away, but by high purpose, by unselfish effort, by uplifting achievement, by a course of Christian living; a conquest that shall leave every nation free to move out to its own destiny; a conquest that shall bring, through the workings of our own example, the blessings of freedom and liberty to every people, without restraint or imposition or compulsion from us; a conquest that shall weld the whole earth together in one great brotherhood in a reign of mutual patience, forbearance, and charity, in a reign of peace to which we shall lead all others by the persuasion of our own righteous example.
Our ability to realize that destiny is contingent upon how well we respond to the call to arms. After all, wars are not effectively fought with a paltry level of participation. President Benson related that "The question as to whether we may save our constitutional republic is simply based on two factors: the number of patriots and the extent of their obedience" ("Prepare, Then Fear Not", p. 58). Our obedience was also referred to by Lehi:
Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.
This may easily be the greatest promise of all: the enjoyment of liberty! You will recall President Hinckley’s words we referenced earlier:
We are involved in an intense battle. It is a battle between right and wrong, between truth and error, between the design of the Almighty on the one hand and that of Lucifer on the other.
This promise of liberty is, in reality, not much—it is not lifetime security, nor comfort, nor easy retirement. And yet it is everything. We have little to gain from a material standpoint, and everything to lose. Ours is a work of preservation: preserving the Constitutional principles this country was founded upon; preserving the Christian heritage that guided our forefathers; and preserving a legacy of liberty that has set apart this country from all others throughout the world’s history.
Will America be a land of liberty, or will she turn tyrannical and fade into the history books as all other civilizations have? Will we as Latter-day Saints rise to the call to save, defend, and uphold the Constitution, or will we fritter our time and energy away in other ephemeral pursuits?
The stakes are high, and the need for our involvement has never been greater. May we all focus on living a righteous and moral life, learn and abide by Constitutional principles, become involved in civic affairs, and make our influence felt far and wide. Then, perhaps we will find deeper meaning in the following words, penned by Samuel F. Smith, to describe this land of liberty Father Lehi referenced:
My country! ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble, free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills.
My heart with rapture thrills
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze
And ring from all the trees,
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God to thee,
Author of liberty,?
To thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light.
Protect us by thy might,
Great God, our King!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Follow The Prophet

On the right side of this blog under good sites you will find four more sites:  Follow The Prophet; Connor's Conundrums; Visions of the Kingdom; and Believe All Things.

There is a new website entitled "Follow the Prophet" by Brad and Bryce Haymond.  The following is a clip from their site:

Today we are pleased to formally announce the launch of the FollowTheProphet.net website.  This site’s mission is to help members of the Church follow the prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by collecting all the news, talks, speeches, devotionals, dedications, interactions, and activities he does and posting links to those things in one central location.  This way members of the Church may more easily learn more about the prophet, and his ongoing counsel to us, as well as his daily example.  A more comprehensive introduction can be read on the About page, as well as short bios of the founders of the site.
Much of the news about the prophet comes from his travels around the world as he visits the members of the Church, and dedicates temples.  Because of this, many of the posts will follow a similar format.  The prophet’s location will be noted, as well as the date he was there.  Links to news stories and reports on his visits will be included, as well as the transcripts of any talks he gives.  Short snippets of things he said or did will also be included.  Please note that we will only post about the prophet’s activities some time after he has visited a location, unless it is a scheduled event, so there is absolutely no security concern for the prophet.
A Global Map is also included on the site.  This will show markers at all the locations we have noted.  Clicking on these markers will show the dates when the prophet was there, with a link to the post on the site which describes his visit there.
You can “follow the prophet” in several ways – Twitter, RSS feed, by email, or Facebook.  Use whichever way is most comfortable to you.
We hope that this site is useful to you, and helps you follow in the footsteps of our beloved prophet, learn more about him, and his words to us.  It may be particularly fun to use as a teaching aide with your young children, to help them learn more about President Monson, and what he has been doing recently.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Computer Problems

I am currently experiencing computer problems.  It will be about three days before I can post to my blog.  Sorry.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Does Eternal Marriage Assure Exaltation?

&C 132:26–27 . Does Marriage in the Temple Assure One of Exaltation, No Matter How One Lives?

President Harold B. Lee taught: “Some folks have the mistaken notion that if somehow, by hook or crook, they can get into the House of the Lord and be married they are assured of exaltation regardless of what they do, and they’ll quote the 132 Section, the 26th verse . But that isn’t what the Lord means. The Lord does assure an exaltation to those who make mistakes, if they repent.” ( Cram for Life’s Final Examination, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 5 Jan. 1954], p. 7.)

President Joseph Fielding Smith commented:
Verse 26, in Section 132 , is the most abused passage in any scripture. The Lord has never promised any soul that he may be taken into exaltation without the spirit of repentance. While repentance is not stated in this passage, yet it is, and must be, implied. It is strange to me that everyone knows about verse 26 , but it seems that they have never read or heard of Matthew 12:31–32 , where the Lord tells us the same thing in substance as we find in verse 26, section 132 . . . .

“So we must conclude that those spoken of in verse 26 are those who, having sinned, have fully repented and are willing to pay the price of their sinning, else the blessings of exaltation will not follow. Repentance is absolutely necessary for the forgiveness, and the person having sinned must be cleansed.” ( Doctrines of Salvation, 2:95–96.)
The key phrase is “and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise” ( D&C 132:26 .) This sealing is related to having one’s calling and election made sure. (See Notes and Commentary for D&C 76:53 ; 131:5 ; 132:7 .)

Speaking of the promise in Doctrine and Covenants 132:26 , Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:
“Making one’s calling and election sure comes after and grows out of celestial marriage. Eternal life does not and cannot exist for a man or a woman alone, because in its very nature it consists of the continuation of the family unit in eternity. Thus the revelation on marriage speaks both of celestial marriage (in which the conditional promises of eternal life are given) and of making one’s calling and election sure (in which the unconditional promises of eternal life are given) in one and the same sentence—which sentence also says that those who commit sins (except ‘murder whereby to shed innocent blood’) after being sealed up unto eternal life shall still gain exaltation. This is the language: ‘Then’—that is, after their calling and election has been made sure—[ D&C 132:19–20 cited].

“Then the revelation [ D&C 132:26 ] speaks of that obedience out of which eternal life grows, and still speaking both of celestial marriage and of making one’s calling and election sure says: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment’—that is, if they are both married and have their calling and election made sure . . . ‘they shall come forth in the first resurrection and enter into their exaltation.’” ( Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:343–44.)

“What if those whose calling and election has been made sure thereafter commit grievous sins? Suppose they backslide and walk in the ways of wickedness? Or fight the truth and rebel against God—what then? 
“That all men commit sin, before and after baptism, and for that matter, before and after their calling and election is made sure, is self-evident. There has been only one Sinless One—the Lord Jesus who was God’s own Son.

“Thus in the revelation announcing the setting up of the restored church in this day, the Lord says: ‘There is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God; Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also.’ ( D. & C. 20:32–34 .)

“The prophets and apostles from Adam and Enoch down, and all men, whether cleansed and sanctified from sin or not, are yet subject to and do in fact commit sin. This is the case even after men have seen the visions of eternity and been sealed by that Holy Spirit of Promise which makes their calling and election sure. Since these chosen ones have the sure promise of eternal life, and since ‘no unclean thing can enter into’ the Father’s ‘kingdom’ ( 3 Ne. 27:19 ), ‘or dwell in his presence’ ( Moses 6:57 ), what of sins committed after being sealed up into eternal life?

“Obviously the laws of repentance still apply, and the more enlightened a person is, the more he seeks the gift of repentance, and the harder he strives to free himself from sin as often as he falls short of the divine will and becomes subject in any degree to the Master of Sin who is Lucifer. It follows that the sins of the godfearing and the righteous are continually remitted because they repent and seek the Lord anew every day and every hour.

“And as a matter of fact, the added blessing of having one’s calling and election made sure is itself an encouragement to avoid sin and a hedge against its further commission. By that long course of obedience and trial which enabled them to gain so great a blessing the sanctified saints have charted a course and developed a pattern of living which avoids sin and encourages righteousness. Thus the Lord said: ‘I give unto you Hyrum Smith to be a patriarch unto you, to hold the sealing blessings of my church, even the Holy Spirit of promise, whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption, that ye may not fall notwithstanding the hour of temptation that may come upon you. ( D. & C. 124:124 .)

“But suppose such persons become disaffected and the spirit of repentance leaves them—which is a seldom and an almost unheard of eventuality—still, what then? The answer is—and the revelations and teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith so recite!—they must then pay the penalty of their own sins, for the blood of Christ will not cleanse them. Or if they commit murder or adultery, they lose their promised inheritance because these sins are exempt from the sealing promises. Or if they commit the unpardonable sin, they become sons of perdition.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:342–43.)
(Doctrine and Covenants Institute Student Manual pp. 330-332)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Important Information On Eternal Marriage

D&C 132:19–22 . How Does an Individual Obtain a Fulness of God’s Glory?

The revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants include all of the laws necessary for exaltation. If we keep the law revealed in section 132 and all the other laws, such as faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost, we can be exalted.
Celestial marriage is a covenant, a contract between the two marriage partners and the Lord. Covenants have “if-then” clauses: if we keep certain commandments, then the Lord promises us certain blessings. Verses 19–22 form such a clause.
If a couple—
Then they will—
1. Are married in accordance with the Lord’s law
1. “Inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths” ( v. 19 )
2. Are married by one who has the keys of the priesthood
2. “Pass by the angels” to their exaltation ( v. 19 )
3. Have their marriage sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise
3. Be gods for all eternity (see v. 20 )
4. Abide in the covenant
4. Have a “continuation of the lives” ( v. 22 )
Some members of the Church mistakenly believe that marriage in the temple fulfills the requirements of the covenant. But marriage in the temple fulfills only the first two parts of the covenant. Having one’s marriage sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise requires a lifelong commitment to righteousness (see Notes and Commentary on D&C 132:7 ). Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that “baptism is the gate to the celestial kingdom; celestial marriage is the gate to an exaltation in the highest heaven within the celestial world. ( D. & C. 131:1–4 .) To gain salvation after baptism it is necessary to keep the commandments of God and endure to the end ( 2 Ne. 31:17–21 ); to gain exaltation after celestial marriage it is necessary to continue the same devotion and righteousness. Those who have been married in the temples for eternity know that the ceremony itself expressly conditions the receipt of all promised blessings upon the subsequent faithfulness of the husband and wife.  (emphasis added)
“Making one’s calling and election sure is an addition to celestial marriage and results from undeviating and perfect devotion to the cause of righteousness. Those married in the temple can never under any circumstances gain exaltation unless they keep the commandments of God and abide in the covenant of marriage which they have taken upon themselves.” ( Mormon Doctrine, p. 118.)
(Doctrine and Covenants Institute Student Manual pp. 329-330)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Brigham Young on getting into the Celestial Kingdom

When we get before father Adam and the innumerable company that will come before him-when we draw near to the Ancient of Days with the rest of his children, and receive his approbation, shall we not be safe? If we can pass the sentinel Joseph the Prophet, we shall go into the celestial kingdom, and not a man can injure us. If he says, "God bless you, come along here;" if we will live so that Joseph will justify us, and say, "Here am I, brethren," we shall pass every sentinel; there will be no danger but that we will pass into the celestial kingdom. Will we all become Gods, and be crowned kings? No, my brethren, there will be millions on millions, even the greater party of the celestial world, who will not be capable of a fulness of that glory, immortality, eternal lives and a continuation of them, yet they will go into the celestial kingdom. Will this people all go into that kingdom? I think a good many will have to be burnt out like an old pipe, before they can go into any decent kingdom.   

Think how many have come into this church, from the commencement of it until now, and apostatized. Will our present population equal them in number? No, it would be like a drop in a bucket, compared with them. Do you know of any other people's striving to enter in at the strait gate besides this people? Yes, many in the sectarian world, and the honest among the heathen nations are seeking with all their mights to enter in, and I do not know but what they are the foolish virgins that brother Hyde has been talking about. The parable will apply to them, as well as to a portion of this people. They live according to the moral law given to them, and no people can be morally any better than are thousands and millions of them, for they have spent days and years on their knees to get the power we have, but could not obtain it. Why? Because they had not the keys of the everlasting Priesthood. Where will they go? To heaven, and they will have all the heaven, bliss, and crowns that they have anticipated in the flesh, and then you may add a hundred fold more. Can they go into the celestial kingdom? No, not without the keys of that kingdom.   
Well, brethren and sisters, may the Lord bless you and comfort your hearts. Be true to your God and to your religion. Do not forsake them, but forsake sin wherever you may see it. Shun sin, whether it is in me or in any other person, and cleave to righteousness and to the Lord. Do not betray your God nor your covenants, and I say, God bless you and prepare us all for His celestial kingdom. Amen.     
            (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 4:, p.272-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Our Ongoing Temple And Family History Responsibilities

 To determine the effect on us individually and collectively as family organizations, let us consider what has and what has not changed.
First, I mention some things which have not changed:
1. The Lord’s mandate given in section 128 of the Doctrine and Covenants has not changed: “Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? …
“Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple … a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.” (D&C 128:22, 24.)
2. Our responsibility to keep a journal and to write our own personal histories and those of our ancestors, particularly those who belong to the first four generations of our pedigree, has not changed.
3. Our responsibility to make certain that all living family members have the opportunity to receive the ordinances of the temple has not changed.
4. Our responsibility to compile our books of remembrance, including the submission of the names of our ancestors for at least the first four generations, and to have the temple ordinances performed in their behalf has not changed.
5. Our responsibility to organize our families at the immediate family level begins when a couple is married. The grandparent family organization develops as children from the immediate family marry and have children. Through such family organizations, every family in the Church should become actively involved in missionary work, family preparedness, genealogy and temple work, teaching the gospel, and cultural and social activities. These vital responsibilities certainly have not changed.
(President Ezra Taft Benson, November Ensign 1978 p. 30)

For the complete talk please click here.