Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Melchizedek Gives Abraham the Sacrament

Today I read Genesis 14 where Lot is captured by the warring kings and Abraham has to go and rescue him. Afterwards Abraham pays his tithing on all he owns and all he acquired from the war when he want to go get his nephew. This chapter is unique because it introduces us to Melchizedek who, in the King James Version does not play a very important role and we barely see him at all, but in the JST we are given 15 extra verses to understand who he was and why he was the high priest of God in that area.

The verse that really stood out to me was verse 17, particularly the JST version. It really makes it sound like Melchizedek administered the sacrament to Abraham. To my knowledge that is the first and only instance of the sacrament before the Savior Himself institutes the night before His death. But I don't know of any other way to interpret the scriptures saying that Melchizedek took bread, brake it and blessed it and then blessed wine afterwards. I mean, that's almost identical terminology as when Jesus teaches the Nephites the sacrament in 3 Nephi. Who ever Melchizedek was, he was a great man that is for sure. He was able to get his people to the point there was no more sin in the city of Salem. That's hard to do in a city. It took Enoch almost 300 years to accomplish it.

I've sometimes wondered since Melchizedek was such a great man, I mean the higher Priesthood is named for him! But since he was such a great man, why wasn't this period of time call the dispensation of Melchizedek? Why was it called the dispensation of Abraham? I believe the answer is because the promise was made to Abraham. And even though he was not the high priest, Abraham was still an incredible man on his own and should not be slighted. I just wish we had more records of Melchizedek to teach us more about this great man beyond this chapter and Alma 13. Oh well, we will know one day. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Pattern for Conflict Resolution

Today I read Genesis 13 were Abraham and Lot leave Egypt. As the chapter goes on, the herdsmen of Lot don't like the herdsmen of Abraham and so Abraham and Lot decide to separate and go their own way. This is ultimately what gets Lot into trouble. But you have to admire the way Abraham handles the conflict. He does not desire there to be any trouble between them because they are family and so he tells Lot to choose which direction he wants to take his herdsmen and Abraham will take the other direction.

Lot chooses the better of the grounds and heads towards the cities. We will find out why that was a huge mistake in the coming chapters but Moses in his writing gives us a glimpse as to what was wrong with this when he tells us that the men of Sodom were wicked. However just about everyone knows that is the truth. But I like the way that Abraham dealt with the conflict between himself and his family. He selflessly gave Lot the first choice of where to relocate to when he was older and could have taken the best land for himself and left Lot with the leftovers, but instead he gave Lot first pick and took what was left.

This is a perfect example of how to handle conflict, really with anyone, but especially with family. Abraham was much more concerned with the happiness and well being of his nephew than he was with the location of his tent and fortune. He wanted to make sure that he did everything in his power to prevent a conflict, even between his servants and Lot's servants, because he and Lot got along just fine. And it's interesting to me that they were his servants, Abraham could have just ordered them to knock it off, however it seems that Abraham knew that the land where they were could not sustain both flocks for long and the servants being upset with each other was just the straw that broke the camels back.

This is a wonderful model for resolving all kinds of conflict, no matter who it is between. When we have a problem like this where we need to resolve a conflict, we need to be more concerned with the other person than we are with ourselves. If we focus on others first, there will be less conflict to resolve in the first place. The world would be such a nicer place if everyone followed this rule. Marriages would not fail because our spouses happiness would be our primary goal in life. It's almost impossible to get divorced if your number one priority in life is your spouses happiness and everything you do is to further that goal. If only we would all follow this pattern. What a world that would be! Until tomorrow.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Abraham Chooses Righteousness

Today I read Genesis 12 which introduces us to Abraham in the Bible. When I was younger, before I read the Pearl of Great Price, specifically the book of Abraham, I had often wondered what was so special about Abraham? I mean, why was he made all those promises that his posterity would be as the sands of the sea and that his posterity would have the Priesthood and that they would possess the land of Canaan. It's really sad how much of the Bible is actually missing compared to how it was originally penned by the prophets. But like I said the Book of Abraham explains it quite nicely. The reason he was chosen, is because he sought out the things of God. Abraham tells us in his own record that he wanted something more than the idol worship of his fathers. He wanted the priesthood his ancestors had and he sought it out.

This raises the question about rearing verses personality. Now, I am a firm believer that how you are raised has a LOT to do with who you turn out to be. But I also believe that personality plays a huge role as well. Over the years I have had several friends who were adopted. All of them were loved and treated fairly and if it were a family of natural and adopted children they were loved the same. And yet they still let the fact that they were adopted ruin their lives and color their outlook on life. And then I had other friends who were adopted and you could never tell until they told you, they didn't let it affect them. In both cases they were treated well and given love and everything a child could want. The difference was their own personality. We always have a choice on how we are going to react to things, it's up to us to choose. Likewise, Abraham was brought up to offer human sacrifices to idols and his own father tried to offer him up as a sacrifice. Abraham rejected these teachings and instead desired the blessings of the Priesthood that he knew were out there.

Just like Abraham, we too have a choice and do not have to be products solely of our upbringing. We can make a choice if we had a bad childhood or even a good childhood. We can make the choice to not let it affect us and turn to our Savior to find peace in His rest. The choice is ours. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shem Knew Abraham and the Tower of Babel

Today I read Genesis 11 which tells the generations of Shem down to the time of Abraham and also tells the story of the Tower of Babel. Now, I'm sure most of you have heard the theory that Shem and Melchizedek are one and the same. I'll be honest that I don't know if this is true or not, although the timing fits. Shem was only 390 years old when Abraham was born and Shem lived to be 600 years old. As far as I know, Shem was still alive when Abraham died because although I can't remember exactly how long it was, I do not believe Abraham lived to be 200 years old. But just to still be alive to see your 9th generation, wouldn't that be something! Of course, Shem is not the only one with this experience. Adam was the same way as were most people during that period of the world. People were so long lived that they were still having children even though they were great-great-great-great grandparents! Kind of blows your mind to think about it but I think it would be really neat. I'd love to have been able to meet my ancestors 9 generations back and hear what life was like for them. That would be really neat.

The other part of the chapter deals with the Tower of Babel although this event, arguably one of the most important in the history of the human race, only has a few short verses to tell us what happened. But as most Christians are well aware, the people of the world in a very short time after the flood had become quite arrogant and decided to build a tower to reach the heavens and God's dwelling place. Of course this did not please God at all and in order to stop the people from doing this, He confounded the language of the people so that they could no longer understand one another. I have often pondered on this story and wondered if there was not more to it than the arrogance of man to try and reach the heavens with a tower. From what I remember of my seminary and college religion courses, Nimrod, who founded the city where this was taking place, was not a righteous man at all. But beyond that I do not remember much else other than what you can read in the scriptures.

It would be a very interesting place to have everyone all speaking the same language. It's hard to imagine but with the world so widespread now, even if we all spoke the same language we most likely would not be able to understand each other due to the various accents that would have cropped up over the millennia. Still it's fun to think on such things. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pangea and Peleg

Today I read Genesis 10 which is a list of the genealogy of Noah's sons, Japheth, Shem and Ham. There is nothing immediately remarkable about this other than it makes genealogy extremely easy if you are able to trace your line back that far. The one part of the chapter that I have always found intriguing is the story of Peleg.

The scriptures only have his name mentioned in passing almost as a footnote. It states that Peleg was a descendant of Shem and in his days the earth was divided. Now, according to the Doctrine and Covenants the earth was once one big land mass, typically called Pangea. There is lots of evidence of this from remains of animals, and humans found in South America and Africa to shapes of landmasses on the coast line. However, the biggest evidence I need is God said it was that way in the beginning in Doctrine and Covenants 133:24. So we can establish that Pangea is real and that when God created the dry land, it was all in one mass, which makes sense seeing that in the creation story, no matter which version you look at, it states that He causes the dry land to appear, which sounds singular to me. One mass of dry land, not multiple little ones.

Now, that being said, a question. If in fact the earth was divided into how we know it today during the time of Peleg, why do the scriptures make special mention of him? It was during the days of other people too, including Peleg's brother, Joktan. So why do the scriptures single out Peleg? I believe it is because Peleg is the one who did the dividing. I think God used Peleg as His instrument to divide the earth. I believe Peleg was a righteous man and a prophet and he used the priesthood under the direction of God and caused the land masses to divide into their current form that we know today. That is why his name was singled out for when the earth was divided. It would be like saying and in Lincoln's day the slaves were freed. There were a LOT of other people around when that even happened, but Lincoln is the one directly responsible for causing it to happen, hence why he would be named.

Nimrod, the founder of Babel, is also named in this chapter. We know from the Book of Ether that Nimrod was a mighty hunter but was not really in tune with the Lord and what was good and right. But we will learn more about Babel in the coming chapters. Until tomorrow.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rainbows and Long Life

Today I read Genesis 9 which has always raised questions for me. In this chapter God tells Noah and his sons that He will never again destroy the earth with a flood. And as proof of His covenant, God gave them the rainbow. I have always been confused if there were no rainbows before this point or God just used something that they were all familiar with it and so that's why He chose it. Joseph Smith stated that the millennium will not occur in a year where there are rainbows. Now, my question/confusion is, if there were no rainbows before this, how is that possible? I mean, surely it rained before this point. The earth had been around about 1700 years by this point and there had never once been water refracting off of the rain droplets in the sky? I just don't see how that's possible. Of course, I know that with God anything is possible so who knows.

I've also never been clear just exactly why Ham is cursed. I think it's gotta be more than just him laughing at the fact that Noah passed out drunk and naked in his tent. It seems to me I have read something on it in the past, but I don't remember what it was now. But for whatever reason, Ham was cursed to not have the priesthood in his line. His line is where Egypt comes from and the line of Pharaohs.

I have also often wondered why, and how, people in the olden days were able to live so long. I mean, Adam lived almost 1000 years. Noah was 500 years old when he was commanded to build the ark and lived to be 950. How in the world were they able to live that long? I'm pretty sure at least in the case of Adam, Noah and his sons they were able to live that long so they could have more children and populate the earth. Today if for some reason, a regular man and woman had to repopulate the earth, it would be a little hard without the woman being constantly pregnant for almost 30 years. What a horrible life that would be. I also wonder what changed. Why did people slowly start living shorter and shorter life spans? By the time we get to Abraham and later Moses, both men didn't make it to 200 but were well past 100. So why did the lifespan shorten? I suppose it is one of those questions that I will find out the answers to in due time. It is fun to think about and theorize on though. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The True Miracle of Noah's Ark

Today I read Genesis 8 which finishes the story of Noah's ark where the rain stopped and the waters from the earth stopped. As the story goes the waters covered the earth for at least 8 months the this chapter states but I believe it was closer to a full year. But regardless it was a very, very long time. It must have been a very trying year for Noah and his family.

But I was thinking about it and it seems the more I think about this episode, the more impressed I am with the sheer logistics of it all. I mean, there was no way for them to keep meat on board the ark so everyone, including the meat eaters of the animal world were eating vegetarian that year. Not only that, but their natural aggression would have been tempered I think. While I do think they were probably in their own compartments, surely the predators would have been able to smell their natural prey all around them and I would think it would have driven them into a frenzy if God had not intervened. When I think about it, it just boggles my mind, I mean to me, this is almost more impressive than feeding the Israelites with mana for 40 years and having the clothing of the children grow with them.

Noah was as devout as they come though. As soon as he was on dry land again he built an altar and offered 2 sacrifices at least. And I'm sure he had reason to be grateful, after all, he and his family were the only ones alive on the entire planet! I know if I were Noah I'd be grateful beyond belief. And truly I am grateful because without Noah and his posterity, none of us would be here! So we can examine all the miraculous things that happened with Noah and his experience, but the true miracle is that it happened. He was preserved and so we are here today. And I for one am very grateful for that! Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Was Noah the Only Righteous on the Earth?

Today I read Genesis 7 where Noah has finished the ark and all the animals have come to Noah and the rains come. Through the years, my understanding has increased. When I was a child, I thought that Noah and his family were the only righteous people on the entire face of the entire planet. I have since come to understand that this is not he case. For one thing, Noah's father, Lamech, was a righteous man. Surely the Lord would not cause him to die in the flood with all the wicked. But why wasn't he on the ark?

I don't remember where I heard this, but the theory I have always liked is that those who were on the earth who were righteous or who converted through the preaching of the Gospel were translated and brought to the city of Enoch. I really don't know if this is true or not but I like the idea that not every single person on the planet besides Noah and his family were wicked and in need of destruction. Although, at times the Lord has allowed the righteous to perish to testify against the wicked. So I guess it is possible that Lamech and anyone else who was actually righteous could have perished in the flood, we are not told specifically. And if they did perish, we know that they died in the Lord and just as the Nephites who were slain by the wicked, we know that the Lord would have received them unto Himself. I guess we will find out someday.

I was also thinking about the sheer logistics of what this endeavor would entail as I was reading and the idea of it is just staggering. I mean it's hard enough to build an ark that can house at least 2 of every kind of animal on the planet plus 8 people for a year. But they also had to have a way to store a years worth of food, not just for the people but for the animals as well. They also had to have a way to clean the ark. I mean eight people alone going to the bathroom each day for a year would make a lot of mess, I can't even imagine the mess that having every animal on the planet would cause. Poor Noah and his family must have been busy from sunup to past sundown just trying to keep the ark habitable each day. Maybe the Lord helped them out somehow, I don't know. I just think of the times that God asks His servants to do something and from sheer logistics it seems impossible, but with God all things are possible. We just have to trust in Him. He will prepare a way. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

God Chooses Noah to Save Mankind

Today I read Genesis 6 where God commands Noah to build the ark and to take 2 of every kind of animal. As I was reading the chapter today I started thinking about a few things. The first thing was how part of the problem was the children of the righteous not marrying in the covenant. They were turning their back on everything they had been taught and were going into the world instead of remaining true to the covenants their fathers had secured. It is the same danger that all people who marry someone not who does not believe in their faith endures. When we choose to date and finally marry someone who does not share our beliefs, it can cause friction and make life more challenging than it needs to be. And this goes for any religious belief, not just Latter-day Saints.

The second idea that I had as I read the scriptures this morning was, why did God kill all the animals too? The scriptures say that the earth was full of violence, does that include the animals too? Did the spirit of Satan and his influence infect the animals as well and they were choosing to go against the wishes of God and were behaving in ways that did not fulfill the measure of their creation? I truly do not know. But God doesn't do things like that just willy nilly, there was a reason behind it, of that you can be sure. We have explored the idea in the past that animals have agency just as we do and can choose to disobey God and follow Satan instead. I even once read an article that as a species that is what happened to the dinosaurs. It was a very interesting concept that's for sure. But the ultimate reason is we don't know exactly why God destroyed all the animals as well as all the people.

The third idea that came to my mind is related to the second. Why did God use a flood? I mean, he could easily have killed only the wicked the same way he killed all the first born in Egypt in the days of Moses. He could have caused a plague to kill only the humans and only the bad ones at that. So why a flood? For this one, I believe I have an answer and it comes from the Lord Himself. I will admit that I don't right at this moment remember who He was talking to, I think it was Enoch though, the Lord mentions that the earth had been baptized by water and in the last days would be baptized by fire, just as we all must be. I think that the earth, just like us, had to be baptized by water and her imperfections, mankind, needed to be washed away. And God knowing all things from the beginning, that this was as wicked as it was going to get until the last days, used this opportunity to baptize with water. That is just my theory anyway.

Whatever His reasons, God caused the flood and chose Noah, because of his righteousness, to save the human race and all the animals. I am very grateful that he listened to God and that through him we are all here today and have all these wonderful animals to enjoy in nature and in our homes. It is true that if it hadn't been Noah, it would have been someone else, but I still feel grateful that Noah heeded the call and did not frustrate the plans of God. Someday we will know the real reason why God did it the way He did it. And I suspect it will make perfect sense! Until tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Today I read Genesis 5 which is the Genealogy of Adam and his righteous posterity down to Noah. It is interesting that this recorded here and makes everyone who does genealogy's life just a little bit easier since if you can trace your line back to Noah, you can get to Adam as well since it's all mapped out for us. And because of the flood, this quite literally is the genealogical line of the entire human race.

All societies in the world seem to have a reverence of some kind for their ancestors. I really do believe this is because of the spirit of Elijah. Even before he brought back the keys that allows us to do the work for our ancestors, the desire to be connected to them was present. Children, and even adults, love to hear tales about those who have come before and their lives. As a culture we love to hear stories and to hear tales of those who influenced our lives.

Today in our modern age, we have a responsibility to not only seek out those ancestors, but to make sure they have an opportunity to accept or reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the saving ordinances that all mankind is required to perform if they would live with Him again some day. It is an awesome task that we will be held accountable for if we do not do it. Some of those we might be able to help have been waiting thousands of years to accept the work, and it's up to us to do it.

Genealogy is that important. In fact it is one of the most important thing we can do in this life. It ranks up there with teaching our children the Gospel of Jesus Christ and performing our own saving ordinances. We owe it to those who have come before to give them the opportunity to have eternal life, especially those who lived during the time when the Gospel was not on the earth in any form. It's the least we can do for them. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Adam and Eve's Children Reject the Gospel

Today I read Genesis 4 where Cain kills Abel and the story of Adam and Eve continue. I've got to say that reading Genesis is a bit like reading a cliff notes version of a book. As I was reading this chapter this morning all I could think to myself is that it's no wonder some people are confused when they read the Bible and I am extremely grateful that I have the Pearl of Great Price so that I can understand everything that actually happened and that I can know why Cain killed Abel and other things such as why Lamech thinks he will be avenged even more than Cain if someone kills him.

I've always felt bad for Adam and Eve. I could not imagine their plight. I mean they had sons and daughters by the score who rejected God in favor of Satan. It must have been so hard for Adam and Eve who had seen God with their own eyes to have their offspring utterly reject God like that. Any parent who has a child stray from the Gospel can relate I am sure. But to have all of your children stray like that must have been very, very hard to handle. Fortunately they eventually had Abel and then Seth afterwards. I've often wondered why so many of their children rejected what they had to say since they could tell their children that they knew without a doubt that God existed and had seen Him. I now it has to do with Satan and the fact that he walked openly among them. And perhaps he came in when Adam and Eve's offspring were most vulnerable, I just don't know.

This chapter also makes me think of Lehi's speech to his son, Jacob in 2 Nephi 2 where he tells Jacob that there must be opposition in all things. Almost right from the beginning there were two different groups of people. The sons of Adam who believe and those that don't. Cain went off on his own and created a society of his own. Right from the beginning they were separate. Just like Lehi said and God too, He uses the wicked to stir up the righteous unto remembrance and to turn to Him. It makes me wonder if the attacks on the Wold Trade Center were to stir us up to remembrance and if so, we might just be due another one because we have far passed where we once were and where we should be as a society.

Whatever the reason, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve rejected the truth and chose instead to follow Satan. In our day and age we face the same problem. So many people are following Satan and choosing to do that which is wrong in the sight of the Lord. It is very disheartening and puts greater pressure on us to live the Gospel and to do what is right. We have to be the example to those around us in order to help them. People don't like to be preached to, but they can't deny their observations and that is why we are encouraged to wear our religion on our sleeves. Make sure you are being a good example to those around you. It may be the only time they get to see a good example. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Forbidden Fruit

Today I read Genesis 3, where Adam and Eve partake of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There are several things about this story that stand out to me and I find very interesting. The first thing that has always stood out to me is I wonder how literal we are supposed to take the things in this story. I mean, I know from the temple that Eve really did take of the forbidden fruit first and then Adam ate of it too, but did Satan really use the voice of the serpent? And why does God say what He does to the snake afterwards? Did snakes have legs before this episode? It's just one of the many things that I'm really interested in knowing once I get over to the other side.

The second thing which I have talked about before, is that Eve was deceived. Satan told her 3 truths and 1 lie to get her to eat of the fruit. I'm not really sure Eve was thinking it through all the way. But then again, perhaps she was. The questions she asks Satan back show a remarkable understanding, but Paul also states in his epistle to the Hebrews that she was deceived. The truths that Satan told her is that she will be as God knowing good and evil and another that I cannot go into because it is part of the temple ceremony and I do not wish to discuss sacred things here. But of course the devil snuck in a lie telling Eve that she would not die if she ate of the fruit. This was a lie for God had stated that if Adam and Eve partook of the fruit they would die and God's word cannot pass away unfulfilled lest He cease to be God. Now, it is true that Adam and Eve did not die immediately because they needed time to be able to repent and to procreate, but they did die within 1 day of the Lord's time, which is 1000 years of Earth time. However, it is important to note that since Adam and Eve partook of the fruit they did in fact die spiritually that same day. So no matter which way you slice it, Satan lied to Eve.

Now, here's the thing I first noticed years ago that I have always found interesting and still do to this day. I have talked about this before back when we read the Pearl of Great Price, but have you noticed that when Adam and Eve discover their nakedness and inform God of it, He commands Jesus to make coats of skins for them? He does not just say make coverings for them. He doesn't tell Jesus to give them coats made of linen or cotton or any other natural fibers. He has Jesus take the material from one of the animals or kill one of the animals, to provide a covering for them. I personally think that God did it this way to show Adam and Eve another aspect of what it meant to have stewardship over all the earth. Remember that before they partook of the fruit, there was no death and so when God put Adam in charge of all the animals, it probably never even entered into his mind that they could be used for food or their skins for warmth. That is very significant to me especially when in todays world we have people who treat animals better than they do their fellow humans.

And so Adam and Eve are cast out of the Garden of Eden and forced into the world to make a living for themselves. I often wonder how much they were left to figure out on their own, and how much they were told/taught by an angel. I suppose we'll never know until we pass on to the next life, which means it is not necessary for us to know in this life or we would have been told. I do believe that God has given all the information we need to obtain Salvation. We just have to act on it. Until tomorrow.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Earth Not Complete Until Woman was Created

Today I read Genesis 2 where God creates man and woman. This is also the chapter where God institutes the Sabbath and rests from His labors. I have often wondered just how people of Christian faiths, no matter what denomination because Latter-day Saints have been known to do it too, can justify some of the things they do, including failing to keep the Sabbath day holy. I mean, I can understand if you are of another faith entirely or do not believe in God, but how can any Christian make a mockery of God and not keep the Sabbath day holy? Even God took the day off! How can we NOT follow in His footsteps?

But as important as the Sabbath day is, that is not what I wanted to focus on today. I wanted to focus on the fact that God did not declare His work completed until there was man and woman together, not just man. The creation of the woman is what made His work finished. And not just created, but married. It's another situation that if you believe in the Bible and believe in God, I don't know how you would justify being a homosexual. Now, that is all I will say on the matter because this is NOT a post against those who are homosexual. I actually have quite a few friends who practice this and I love them all as friends and as people. I do not condone their lifestyle but I still care for them as people, just as our Father in Heaven does.

The real reason I bring this up is because God not pronouncing His work good or complete until there was a woman and she and the man were married tells me that men and women are not complete until we are together and married. And anyone who is married with a good spouse would agree with me. I would be so much less without my eternal companion and I can't imagine what life would be like without her by my side. For 28 years I was incomplete and I knew it. I felt it, I felt that longing to be with that woman, that daughter of God who would complete me. I tried my best to get along and was able to accomplish some great things on my own, but when I met my wife and later when we went on our first date, I knew I had found the woman who would make me whole.

And she truly has. She completes me in so many ways. Many of the stereotypes are true and the things you hear such as she is my better half, and she is. She is the fairer sex, no contest there. She really runs the family, I'd be lost without her and would not know how to handle my daughter the way she does. She is my life and everything I do is for her and for her well being. Now, I don't want to downplay the love I feel for my daughter and I feel the same way in the sense that I would do almost anything for her and her happiness. But it is a very different type of love that I have for those two females. I cannot help but feel contentment in my life and happiness that Heavenly Father entrusted two of His most precious daughters into my care. I only hope that I am caring for them the way He would if He were here. They are my everything. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Science and Religion

Today I read Genesis 1 where God creates the earth and everything in it. You know, I once read a quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell that said pure science and pure religion were the same thing. I find it really sad that so many people are confused by science because science is not bad. Science is actually really good. But science is also extremely arrogant. They think they have it all figured out which is really a little amusing to me. I mean, how many times in history do scientists think they have it all figured out and it turns out they are very wrong? It was not all that long ago that people thought the earth was flat. Before that we thought the earth was stationary. So many times we have thought we had it all figured out and it turned out in the end that we were wrong.

I only say that because so many scientists discard religion because they do not understand it, can't quantify it. They think that what they find with their science is completely incompatible with religion. For example, geologists will tell you that the earth is millions of years old and they think that Christianity is incorrect because we maintain that time as we know it started in 4000 B.C. I don't find the two at odds with each other at all. Matter cannot be created or destroyed Newton taught us, and he was right. But it can be re-purposed. I have no trouble believing that God used pieces from other worlds that He had previously created that have since been destroyed to create this earth. I also have no trouble believing that God took as much time as it needed to create this earth properly. I don't find the statement that the earth is millions of years old troubling at all or at odds with my beliefs.

In today's reading we read that God created the earth in six days. I prefer to think of it as six creative periods and we have absolutely no clue how long each of those were. I don't see any reason why they can't have lasted for millions of years or thousands of years or however long it took. I think that when we are finally shown/told how it all happened it will mesh with science perfectly, whatever the science of the day thinks is what happened. However, we do know that God understands the laws of the universe much more fully than we do. For example, we know that He can appear wherever He wants over vast distances very quickly. His statements to the Nephites that He had to visit the lost tribes of Israel before returning to them the next morning shows that. Moroni's multiple visits to Joseph Smith that first night also shows that. So to think that we have science all figured out is just plain silly and arrogant.

Perhaps when we see the grand plan we will be shocked just how wrong we all were in our suppositions. Perhaps not. It really doesn't matter. For the time being all we have to go on is faith and I choose to believe that God exists and that He has revealed Himself to man in these the latter days. I believe that He is and that He loves us and has revealed everything we need to know in order to return to live with Him someday. That is my testimony. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Bible a bible, and the Millennium

Today I read Revelation 22 the bane of every missionaries existence. This is the chapter that contains the verse where John states that anyone who adds anything to this book of prophecy will bring upon them the plagues contained therein. This is the verse that every missionary who has served in a country that has Christians in it has come to hate. This is the verse that everyone misinterprets.

The Christian world tries to use this verse as their slam dunk on why the Book of Mormon can't possibly be true. They point to this verse, or oddly enough some of them will actually reference the verse in Deuteronomy, and state that God, through John, has stated that there will be no more scripture. What they don't realize is, that when John wrote the revelation that he saw, what we now call the book of Revelation, the Bible didn't exist. It was also written before the Gospel of John, his testimony of Jesus Christ. And those that point to the verse in Deuteronomy is even more ludicrous. Unfortunately though, anyone who points to this verse trying to prove you wrong is not going to be swayed by any of those facts. Only those that point to it asking how there can be more scripture with a spirit of humility might actually listen.

The rest of the chapter talks about conditions of the millennium and how things will be with Christ here to rule personally on the earth. I can hardly even imagine such a time. A time free from crime, free from obnoxious so called music that drives away the Spirit, a time where people don't try and take advantage of you because of your words, where you can actually take people at their word again. Where children can play without fear and parents can allow them to roam around and not even fear the animals of the forest. That will truly be heaven on earth. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Jerusalem and Temples

Today I read Revelation 21 which mainly contains information about the city of New Jerusalem, the one that is prophesied to be built in Missouri. This chapter contains several dimensions and what it will look like which to some might be very interesting indeed. I was more intrigued that John said only those who are written in the Lambs book of life may enter into the city. Now, it is interesting that John would make such a distinction because to my understanding, those will be the only people left on the earth! I don't have all the prophecies memorized but I do believe that New Jerusalem gets built just before the Second Coming of Christ or just after, I cannot remember which. But either way the wicked won't be around very long to try and enter into the city.

That will be kind of nice, to have an entire city like a temple that only those worthy to do so may enter in. That is one of the most wonderful things about the temple, that you can go and find peace from the world there every time. Only those who are there to do the will of God are inside and it is always such a refreshing experience. My wife and I only have our 18 month old daughter right now but because she has seen so many doctors in her life, she won't allow anyone besides my wife and I to hold her unless they have been around her for several days and even then it takes a lot for her to trust them. I bring this up because one of our goals this year is to attend the temple at least once every other month. Because we cannot leave our daughter with a babysitter, she has to come with us. Last month it was my wife's turn to do some ordinances and I sat with our daughter in the waiting room. It was such a wonderful experience just being inside the temple as a family and watching my daughter play inside the temple and later walking around the temple grounds. There is no place on earth quite like the temple and I hope each of you who are Latter-day Saint who read this are taking advantage of the opportunity to attend the temple as often as possible.

I don't want to cheapen the the temple experience by talking about it too much and making it common so I'll end here, but we have been encouraged by the brethren to always hold a temple recommend when possible and if not possible to live the standards and be worthy of one. However, I would say that just having a temple recommend is not enough, we have to actually use it too. The Lord needs us to do that temple work so it can get done, but we also need the temple work in our lives. It helps put so much into perspective and to help us stay focused on what is positive and right in life. I just can't say enough good things about the temple. If you have not been in a while, I encourage you to go. If you recently went, go again. You cannot go often enough. It's not possible. Go and find out what a world without Satan would feel like. It's indescribable! Until tomorrow.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Satan Can Be Bound Now

Today I read Revelation 20 and I've got to say, it's nice to read about something other than destruction in the scriptures. It feels like that is all I have read out the last few days. But this is about the millennium. A time of joy and temple work. I have often wondered about Satan being bound for the duration of the millennium. I have heard both side of the argument that he is bound only by the people because they pay him no heed at all, and that he is actually forbidden to tempt the people during those 1000 years.

Now, on the one hand, we already have a real life example of a people over the course of 2 generations not giving any heed to Satan at all and he was fully allowed to tempt them as far as we know. I am of course speaking of the Nephites who met with Jesus Christ. They were righteous and did not heed Satan at all for 200 years. So it is possible to still have Satan trying his best to tempt mankind but not able to do so. And I definitely think that a group of people during the millennium who have access to Jesus Himself would be able to resist temptation just fine. But what about those others in the world? Jesus can't be everywhere at once and not everyone on the earth during the millennium will be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There will be non-Mormons too. What about them?

That is what leads me to lean more towards the idea that Satan will actually be forbidden to tempt the generations of the millennium, much as the imagery of the scriptures describe. I don't know for a fact but that is what I believe will happen. It really is not all that important to me how it happens so much as that it does. I believe the scriptures so I understand that it will happen. It is a reason I hope to be around when the millennium comes around. It will be like living inside a temple all the time! To be free of Satan's temptations and influence all the time, it's like a dream come true!

Of course if Satan is only bound because the people pay no attention to him, then we can effectively create our own millennium experience right now. All of us have the choice to heed Satan or not. Nothing will change at all to my understanding if Satan is not actually bound but rather is rendered impotent because of the people failing to pay heed to him. We can start now and start ignoring him and his temptations. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day and it will not happen overnight. However, it is possible to not pay heed to Satan right here and now. All it takes is us shunning the world and overcoming it.

Of course, that is easier said than done. Temptation is all around us and the natural man wants to participate. I imagine it will be easier to keep our thoughts clean with pornography is not jumping off the television screen and computer screen all the time at us. I do imagine we will still use the internet and television during the millennium but they will be uplifting programs and will be full of genealogical data and other helpful resources. Not the horrible shows that are currently shown on TV that have 3/4 nude women and lewd men on them all the time. I don't even like watching regular TV because of it. My family typically keeps the channel on the Food Network or something else educational such as the Discovery channel or the History channel. We try and avoid prime time TV because there is nothing wholesome about it.

Our choices define who we are. We can start the millennium right now for ourselves and for our families by the choices we make. How are we spending our evenings? Are we parked in front of the TV? Or do we take the opportunity to go to the temple and do some of the Lord's work? Do we read the scriptures with our families, or do our children see us reading questionable magazines such as Vogue or Maxim? Is our speech about what we learned in Sunday School this past week or are we spreading gossip? We each of us have work to do to get better and I am no exception. I choose to listen to music on the radio just as often if not more often as I choose to listen to the most recent General Conference on CD. I am guilty of not reading the most uplifting books around. I like to play video games when I could instead be doing genealogy work on my computer. Each of us has to make the determination for ourselves where we can improve and then, most importantly, do it!

It's all well and good to analyze ourselves and see what we can do to be better, but then we actually have to do it. The millennium can start now for each one of us by the choices we make. Are you biding Satan and kicking him out of your home? Or are you inviting him in by the kinds of programs you watch on TV? Is Satan comfortable in your home because of your literature and music? Or does he squirm and feel uninvited? Only you can answer those questions but remember, God knows the answer to them and if we are honest with ourselves, so do we. Make the right choice and kick Satan out of your house once and for all. Don't wait for some future date, the spiritual millennium starts now! Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Force for Good

Today I read Revelation 19 which is about the devastation that is immediately preceding the Second Coming. I know that we are always taught to focus on the positive aspects of the Second Coming but there is so many descriptions in the scriptures about the bad things that are going to happen that it's hard to keep that in mind. The descriptions that it gives are so gloomy and very little hope that I am not sure I want to be around for it. There are times that I hope I am here on the earth still for the Second Coming and the Millennium, but then there are other times that I really don't want to be around for all the horrible stuff that is going to happen immediately before hand.

It is all in God's hands of course and His will be done always. It reminds me of the counsel to stand in holy places. The best way to live in this world is to follow the commandments of God and to make ourselves as righteous as possible. Today I was talking with the Elder's Quorum President and the 1st counselor about sharing the Gospel and why we as members of the church find it so hard to bring up the Gospel to those who are not members. At the time I was thinking that it has to do with fear of rejection, that we are worried that if the person says no they don't want to hear about the Gospel that they will not want to be our friends anymore. This is really silly because who honestly gets offended at being offered something they don't desire?

Now that I think about it, I think the real reason we are worried about sharing the Gospel and we are afraid is because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so important and special to us that we are actually afraid that the person we are wanting to share the Gospel with will mock and ridicule our beliefs. I can tolerate someone mocking me but I am not sure how I would handle someone mocking Jesus Christ or mocking my testimony. I think that is what I am really actually scared about more than anything. It's easy to have thick skin when they are just making fun of us, but making fun of our beliefs and our Savior, that is harder to bear.

But it is not for us to decide who is ready to hear the Gospel and who is not. That is God's job. It is our job to ask Him for His help in determining who to share the Gospel with and then share it once He makes His will known to us. Also, the great thing about sharing the Gospel is that it strengthens our testimony. The more we bear our testimony the stronger it gets. If we partner with the Lord then we can accomplish a lot of good in this life. And that is a good feeling. One of the best we can have in this life actually. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Flee City Life

Today I read Revelation 18 where Babylon falls. It got me thinking of a book I read by Hugh Nibley many years ago. Hugh Nibley stated in this book, which I can't remember the title, that the downfall of Sodom and Gomorrah was not sexual perversion, although that certainly happened. The downfall of those cities was wealth. Once the inhabitants became wealthy they stopped caring for the poor and needy in those cities and eventually stopped working altogether and it was the free time they had that caused them to eventually turn to such atrocities that led to their destruction.

I bring this up because it's been on my mind as I read this chapter, the danger of cities. Babylon the term as it refers to the world is only because it was a city that exhibited these same qualities that God has always told the Israelites to avoid. The Lord has always warned against cities and getting too acquainted with the things of the world. And it's still going on today. Think about life in New York City compared to life in say Omaha, Nebraska. Big difference right? As I was reading this chapter today and thinking about it and its implications, I started to wonder, is New York City that way because of the people who go there, or is New York that way and it causes the people who live there to mold and change to fit in? I truly don't know but I do know that the stereotypes of Babylon and everything that is wrong with city life is found in New York City.

Now, there are good people in New York City, lots of Latter-day Saints and other faithful Christians of other denominations live there. But the fact remains that crime is higher there than in smaller cities and towns. The attitudes of its inhabitants is deplorable. The poor are treated with contempt by all but the smallest percentage of the population. Sin there rivals even places such as Las Vegas. And the funniest part to me is that they think they are enlightened and the new age. Satan really has them all fooled.

Moses wrote that Zion was Zion because there was no poor among them. That is not because they ousted all the poor as did Sodom and Gomorrah of old, but rather because they took in their poor and made sure that they were cared for. They had all things in common and cared for the poor and those who had not as they would themselves. This is the type of community that you can find in a small town setting where people care about each other and care FOR each other. I grew up on the outskirts of a city, in the countryside and I loved it. I have never been attracted to live in a city. When I served my mission I was called to serve in eastern Los Angeles. It was the largest city I had ever lived in and I did not like it. I can't imagine living in downtown LA or why some people are drawn there. Even now living in Huntsville, Alabama my family and I live on the outskirts of town and I wish we could live a little farther away but that would not be efficient.

I'm not sure why cities tend to bring out the worst in mankind, but history proves that they do. Anytime a city is created crime starts to rise. Now some would argue that crime only rises because there are more people in one location. So be it, the fact remains that crime in a city is higher than in smaller towns. People are disassociated from their neighbors and fellow citizens in a city. People tend to not care about the poor and needy in a city. Like I said, I don't claim to know what causes it all, but it clearly happens and God is always telling us to flee Babylon. We always take it to mean the world and shun the things of the world, but what if He is also advising us to avoid large city life? To get back to the simpler things and to do His work? Food for thought anyway. Until tomorrow.

Friday, February 10, 2012

We All Can Choose

Today I read Revelation 17 which is all about Babylon, the whore of the earth. It got me thinking as I read it about the natural man and how he is an enemy to God. I think that is why Babylon, or the world is so successful, they appeal to the natural man in us. Satan has been around for thousands of years, he knows what kinds of things men and women are drawn to, because the specifics might have changed about the world, but mankind is still pretty much the same.

I remember when I was younger that I used to wonder why the Israelites used to always go after strange gods when they had miracle after miracle that proved that their God was real. It wasn't until much later that I learned that a lot of the false gods worship involved sex that it became clear and I understood. People can be quite animalistic and let our baser desires drive us although for the life of me I don't understand why.

I can understand it taking time to learn control over ones emotions and bodily needs, but to let them drive you reduces us to animals. It literally sickens me when I see drug addicts or people addicted to anything, it completely destroys agency. And honestly as I think about it, I don't think the real danger in our times is the addiction. Rather I think it's the excuses we hear. People saying things like "I have an addictive personality". It is not an excuse. People talking about being born that way or they were born incorrectly or so many other things people say to shift the blame away from themselves. It's everyone else's fault but their own. God wants us to overcome the world and to conquer ourselves and become like He is because He knows that is the only way to be truly happy in this life.

The good news is that it becomes easier the more you do it. The more right choices you make, the easier the next one becomes to make and so on and so on. The hardest one is the first one and once you get that out of the way, it's all downhill from there as the saying goes. We all have the unique opportunity to choose to be who we want to be in this life. We need to make sure we take advantage of that opportunity and be the best men and women we can be if we want to be happy. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

By Their Fruits

Today I read Revelation 16 which is all about the plagues that are going to be poured out upon mankind before the Second Coming. I have often wondered if, at least some of these plagues, are symbolic. For example it talked about the seas and the rivers and lakes turning to blood. I wonder if they will just turn red from some phenomenon or if they truly will turn to blood as did the Nile in Egypt of old. I guess time will tell.

There was a statement in the chapter that caught my attention. It talked about the devil performing miracles to confuse and mislead mankind. This makes me think of the wisemen of Egypt during the time of Moses who were able to duplicate several of the plagues that Moses produced, including turning a stick into a snake. The devil has power to perform miracles in the natural world to deceive mankind. I once heard it said that Satan will tell a thousand truths to tell just one lie. I think that is accurate and is certainly how he snared Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. He told her the truth of what the fruit would accomplish in her, but lied that it would not cause her to die.

I had a conversation this past Sunday with my dad about Satan. We were talking about the devil’s plans and most people think that the devil is trying to win, or beat God. My dad mentioned that he thought that was not the case, Satan knew he was going to lose. But what Satan’s real goal is, is to make mankind miserable like he is. I do believe that is his ultimate goal because the scriptures state it is. But it got me thinking, why is he miserable? I think it is because he knows he screwed up and there is nothing he can do about it. He squandered his inheritance for a proverbial mess of pottage. Now he is forced to lie in the bed he has made for himself. I don’t know if that is the case, but for sure he is miserable as the scriptures state it and he wants all mankind to be miserable like unto himself.

I don’t enjoy speaking of the things of the devil and so I will end here. But the fact remains if the devil can perform miracles to deceive, how do we know the one performing the miracle is using the Priesthood or of the devil? My answer comes from Matthew and that is that by their fruits you shall know them. What kind of a person are they, how do they conduct themselves? What are their actions telling you about them? You will know what kind of a person they are, just listen to the Spirit. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pleasing and Praising God

Today I read Revelation 15 which talks about angels having 7 plagues to torment mankind. However, the chapter also talks about praising God and giving Him all glory. It got me thinking about giving praise to God and how it is best accomplished. It honestly reminds me of a clueless husband and his wife. The stereotypical scenario is that no matter what hints the wife drops or gives her husband, he never gives her something that she wants for a gift which causes friction and tension in the marriage. But from the husbands point of view, he is following things his wife said she needed, not necessarily what she wanted. He is trying to please her without listening to what she tells him.

The same is true of all of us and God. Except unlike the wife in our analogy, God has told us exactly what we need to do in order to please Him. But like the well meaning husband, we don't take the hints or straight answers we are given and instead try and come up with something on our own. And the result is almost always a disaster. Unlike the wife who may be able to look past her bumbling husband's attempts to please her, God has specified how we will please Him and no matter what we tell ourselves and try and convince ourselves otherwise, that is the only way to please Him.

It drives me crazy when I hear people talk about pleasing God in their own way. Or about doing what's right for them. They think that somehow they are an exception to what God has said. It's he same principle as those young men who get up and talk about how they agonized over whether serving a mission was right for them when they have had their answer for over 20 years! The prophets have said that every worthy young man should serve a mission. Why do so many young men then have to find out if the prophet meant him in particular when he said EVERY young man? It makes no sense to me. I will freely admit that in the beginning the only reason I served a mission was because it was a commandment of God. I did not want to go at all. But I knew it was a commandment from God's appointed servants here on the earth so I went. After about 3 months into my mission my whole attitude changed and I am so very glad I went, but yeah I had to force myself to do it in the beginning and it only happened because it was a commandment.

But when I hear people talk about how the commandments don't apply to them or they will live this commandment but not that one, it makes me want to yell at them and ask if they have ever read the scriptures and declare like Alma that if they have read them then they do not understand them. God cannot recall back the words He has spoken, therefore they are still in effect just as when He first spoke them through His son, Jesus Christ. Paul said that without faith it is impossible to please God. I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. We have to have faith that God has told us what we need to do in order to please Him, and that is to follow that commandments as He told us through His Son. That is how we show Him we love Him. Nothing else will suffice. And like the clueless husband in our analogy, why wouldn't we take the advice if it was offered? Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sharing the Gospel, a Universal Responsibility

Today I read Revelation 14 a much happier chapter about the work of Jesus Christ and God the Father progressing. I had a thought while reading this chapter, have you ever noticed anytime it mentions a gender of an angel in the scriptures it's male? I just noticed that this morning as I was reading this chapter. I wonder why anytime an angel does something on behalf of the Lord, it's a male angel? I am sure it has something to do with the Priesthood, but I am not sure what. It was just something I noticed.

The thing that stood out to me in this chapter was missionary work. John saw the angels thrusting in their sickles with their might which has always been an analogy for missionary work. It is always interesting to me that the Lord uses us, His imperfect tools to spread the Gospel. It reminds me of a conversation I had once with a missionary companion that I had. We were talking one day and my companion asked if I thought that God had a plan B. Meaning, that He expects us as members and especially as missionaries to spread the Gospel. Well suppose He counted on us teaching the Gospel to a certain person but for whatever reason, because of the choices that we made it didn't happen. Does He have a plan B where that person still gets taught the Gospel in this life?

I personally don't think we can frustrate the plans of God that would require a "plan B". I think that God knows the end from the beginning as He has said and as such, we can't frustrate the plans of God and He knows if we will actually open our mouths to spread the Gospel or not. Now, that does not mean He will stop giving us opportunities to do the things He asks of us so that we can grow. But think about Abraham. God did not need to know if Abraham would sacrifice Isaac because God asked him to, Abraham needed to know that he would sacrifice his son because God asked him to. The tests that we are given in this life are to help us find out about ourselves, to help us understand what we are capable of.

I think that God gives us trials both so that we will grow and step out of our comfort zones, but also so that we can learn about ourselves and make decisions that we otherwise might not make. I mean honestly, how many of us before we are put in those situations think about what we would do in a situation where a person is attacking us about our beliefs? Not many of us that's for sure. We think and plan about if we are ever offered a cigarette or pre-marital sex, but I don't think many of us plan ahead concerning missionary opportunities. Now, I think we do when we have made up our minds to share the Gospel, but before that, I'm not so sure.

We need to take our responsibility of sharing the Gospel seriously. God expects us to do our part and to speak about who we are and what we believe on a regular basis to those around us. It becomes easier the more you do it. And it is a wonderful feeling when we do share the Gospel. We need to make sure that we are more concerned with the well being of those with whom we might share the Gospel than with our own fears. If we do, then the Lord will bless us for our efforts and that is all He asks of us. And if we don't do it, then we will have to answer to Him about why we didn't. None of us wants that, I can promise you that! Until tomorrow.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Reality of the Devil

Today I read Revelation 13 which seems to be all about the devil and his followers. This is also the chapter where we learn the mark of the beast is 666 which I find leads to some pretty humorous superstitions. But I always find it strange how fascinated some people are with the devil and his doings. It's almost unwholesome really and it makes me wonder if those people are mentally all there. I really don't understand why any rational being would worship the devil.

I would think that perhaps they are deceived by a being who appears to have power, but honestly if someone believes in the devil, they must believe in God also. So it makes no sense to me. But I'm not going to spend time trying to understand the mind of a Satan worshiper. That just doesn't seem like a worthwhile pursuit to me.

I really didn't find anything worth talking about while reading this chapter other than the thought that while yes, Satan is real, he is also on the losing side of things and will be defeated. And that is a comforting thought. And I think I will leave it at that because as I stated, it is not wise to dwell overly long on the things of the devil. It is much better to just acknowledge his existence and then move on to the things of the Spirit. Which is what I intend to do today. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The War in Heaven

Today I read Revelation 12 which has to do with the rebellion of Lucifer, and what I think is the last days. Revelation 12 was re-translated by Joseph Smith and that is the version that I read and will be talking about today. Most of the Joseph Smith translation just adds a few words that had been removed or removes a phrase or two. It is rare that an entire chapter is in need of revision like this. I think the only other instance is Matthew 24. But enough of that, let's get into the meat of the chapter.

As I was reading this chapter today it was very obvious that a good portion of it is about the rebellion of Lucifer and his being cast out of heaven. Whenever the scriptures refer to the dragon and his angels, that is referring to the devil. In this chapter it mentions the war in heaven and that Michael and his angels cast out the devil and his followers. I know I have mentioned this before, but I still can't figure out why people followed Satan in the first place. I can maybe understand that it was appealing that they would not fall away and would be assured that they could return to Heavenly Father's presence, but after they discovered that God did not approve of the plan, why would they still support Satan? Did they really believe they could alter the mind of God? Did they really think they could overcome the creator of their very spiritual bodies? It just makes no sense at all to me.

But whatever the reason they did rebel against God and as punishment they were cast out of His presence. Out of spite they have made it their goal to destroy the plan of salvation and cause as much pain and suffering for the spirits who followed Jesus and Heavenly Father as possible. I suppose everyone has to have a hobby and since they know they will ultimately fail and be punished, this is their only consolation.

The verse that really stood out to me though was the JST verse 4-7. It talks about there being a woman who is about to give birth to a child and the dragon, Lucifer, is set to devour the child as soon as it is born. We learn in verse 7 that the child is the church, or the kingdom of God. Then in verse 5 we learn that the woman fled with the child into the wilderness where it was prepared to keep them for 1260 years! Now, I don't know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like the early history of the Church in the 1830's.

Satan did everything in his considerable power to destroy the infant church as soon as it was created, even before then if you consider his attacks on Joseph Smith himself. The attacks became so fierce that the church had to flee into the wilderness where there were no people for safety, where they have remained ever since. I have no idea if this chapter and verse is actually referring to that or some other time where the Saints of God had to flee but the imagery was so vivid in my mind this morning as I read it that I just immediately jumped to the Latter-days and the Saints fleeing to Utah. Food for thought anyway.

The one major thing that I came away with from this chapter is that Satan will lose. He has already lost as a matter of fact. It may seem like he is winning because of the state that the world is in right now, but the fact of the matter is that Satan lost the moment he wouldn't back down and support God's plan. The moment he would not admit his mistake and decide to follow God, he lost. So there is no reason at all to follow him, and yet each of us struggles with it and with being righteous. Each of us has to make our own choice of where we want to end up at the end, when it is all said and done. And you make your choice by the kind of life you are living. Make sure you can live with your choice for the rest of eternity, because that is what is at stake! Until tomorrow.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Prophecies of the Second Coming

Today I read Revelation 11 which is about the 2 prophets who prophesy for 1260 days, a little under 3 and a half years. I don't know why, but the idea of 2 prophets standing up to the world and causing natural disasters and withholding the rain has always fascinated me. Probably because it strikes really close to magic in the sense of something like Harry Potter or sci-fi/fantasy which has always been my favorite genre for reading.

But this chapter made me think. In this day and age there are always so many people who claim to know when Jesus is going to come again, or that the world is going to end on 12/21/2012 because of a Mayan calendar. There are always those who prophesy that the end is near, either out of delusion or some other reason. Now, no Latter-day Saint should be taken in by this because we know that before the Savior's 2nd coming the Gospel has to be preached in every nation and there are still several nations that we are not allowed to preach the Gospel in yet. There are other prophecies I could name, but this one will suffice. No Latter-day Saint should be deluded or taken in by false prophets that the end is here because the prophecies have not all been fulfilled.

But even non-Latter-day Saint Christians should know better than to believe such nonsense. Because of prophecies like this one from the Bible. For the world to end in December of this year, these two prophets that are talked about in this chapter would have to have started prophesying and causing disasters with the Priesthood over 2 years ago! Since they didn't, we can safely conclude that the world is not going to end on the Winter Solstice this year. And there are other prophecies that are in the Bible, but for some reason people latch on to these ideas from false prophets and from so called experts and forget all about the Bible, God's own word.

Jesus Himself stated that no man knows the hour when He will come again. This is by design so that people will live their lives how they will live them and not in some false pretense of how they are when they think He is coming. When/If the Lord reveals His time and date for His return, it will be to His prophets. There is no need to get upset at the doomsayers out there or the people who buy in to every wind of fate that comes along. Have faith and know that He is God. When all the prophecies have been fulfilled, that is when He will return again, not before. Until tomorrow.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Many Ways of Revelation

Today I read Revelation 10 which I've got to say is a little bit of a strange chapter. But it got me wondering, why are prophets shown these great and marvelous things, but then commanded to seal them up so that they don't come to the people? The obvious answer that comes to my mind is that the Lord wants to reward His servants, the prophets, who see the vision, but the common man/woman is not ready for the vision in question.

I know with some visions the Lord has told the prophet seeing it that He will try the faith of His people and that is why it must be sealed up, such as the vision that the brother of Jared saw. It makes me wonder though, have there been those whose faith were strong enough that God showed them the same vision? We wouldn't know about it if it happened I'm sure because such a vision and manifestation would be very personal, but it's kind of neat to think about.

When you think about it, all revelation is very personal. I have been told that Heavenly Father gives revelation to men and women and when we prove that we can keep sacred things sacred, then He will give us more. That being understood, it makes me wonder how many men and women are having supremely spiritual experiences on a regular basis that aren't known to others? I bet it's a fair amount actually. And it makes sense to me the more I think on it to keep sacred things close to your heart because any communication with deity is a very wonderful experience.

My mother and sister once asked my father, my brother and me what it was like to give a blessing, to be the mouthpiece of God. It's a hard thing to describe really and I have found that each priesthood holder experiences it differently. I've been told that some hear a voice whispering what to say, others have words appear in their minds. For me, I just speak what I feel and if I try and say something that I am not supposed to, the idea flees from my mind and I have to stop speaking and re-collect my thoughts before proceeding. I think this myriad of manifestations is also a way to test our faith. Because if you think about it, one of the easiest way God could "prove" He was there to the skeptics is by communicating the exact same way with everyone. But that would remove the need for faith. And honestly, He does have His favorite methods that I think probably have more to do with the individual receiving the revelation than Heavenly Father.

Whatever the manner, I am supremely grateful that God takes the time to talk to us, His children. So many people like to mock religion saying that God created us and then took off without a backwards glance. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Heavenly Father has watched over each and every one of us from before our mortal births. He is very invested in us as an individual and wants us to succeed. The only people who could characterize God as having left us are those who don't know Him at all and know nothing of His ways. I am grateful to have been raised with a proper understanding of His character. I hope each of you appreciate your testimony too. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Natural Disasters and Trials

Today I read Revelation 9 which included more disasters and more plagues. It made me wonder, why are there going to be so many calamities in the last days? Is it a natural consequence of something the world is doing? For example there are more tornadoes these days than in years past. Is that a direct result of pollutants that mankind is pouring into the atmosphere causing the weather to change and causing more hot and cold fronts which result in more tornadoes? Who can say really.

But what about the disasters that man can't affect, such as earthquakes. Few would argue that we are seeing more frequency and more potent earthquakes these days than we used to in years past. But I can think of very little that man can do that would cause the earth to quake more often. I mean how can man affect the plates of the earth at all except by maybe drilling or explosives, but I would think even then man is not really affecting he plates at all. So if that is the case, why are there more earthquakes these days?

The same question could be said for all disasters that are occurring right now. Are they God smiting the earth for its wickedness or are they just natural consequences of thousands of years of humans and their actions? I honestly have no idea but as I was reading today's chapter I couldn't help but wonder why the frequency of these disasters would increase just because Jesus will be coming back to the earth to cleanse it from all iniquity. It makes me think that some of these disasters are in fact, man made. We are causing them by what we do. I could be very wrong and this is by no means a "save the earth" post, but I really don't know why God would just arbitrarily cause natural disasters just because of the Second Coming.

As I sit here thinking about this, the scripture if ye are prepared ye shall not fear comes to mind. Just like I have stated in the past, what happens to this earthly body is only temporary. Yes, we don't want to die violent deaths, none of us do. But honestly, no one gets out of this world alive, even those who are translated are changed in the twinkling of an eye, what I would imagine is the equivalent of dying of old age. Yes, it a perfect world each of us would die calm, natural deaths and there would be no trauma associated with it. However, we do not live in a perfect world, we live in a world where we need to learn by the things we suffer to be humble, to have patience to help our Heavenly Father accomplish His work. If we are righteous then we can be assured that the things we suffer are to help us become better men and women and not the results of our unrighteous actions.

I choose to live a righteous life and because of this, I know that if I have any health challenges it will be a trial I am meant to learn from, and not from doing drugs or having multiple sexual partners or any other reason you can name that comes from sin. That knowledge helps me because I am then able to learn all I can from my trials and be happy in the knowledge that God wants me to progress. What a world it would be if everyone where that way! It is a nice dream that will not come to pass until the millennium. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Our Relationship with God

Today I read Revelation 8 which is all about the calamities that will come in the last days and how the earth will be smitten. It got me thinking about how when bad things happen, people turn to religion and subsequently, to God. And I had to wonder, why is that? Why do people turn to God when things are going wrong and not when things are going well? I know personally with my earthly father I'm probably more excited to talk to him when I have good news than when I have bad news. I think that is the norm, so why do we treat our Heavenly Father differently?

Why is it that when we are scared or need His help, we run to Him but when things are ok or even going great, we shun Him and take all the credit for ourselves? Perhaps it is human nature. The natural man surely enjoys the attention and is a glory hog for the praise of man. But it doesn't really account for why people don't turn to Him when things are going well and only during times of calamity.

I think it has to do with the fact that most of the world doesn't view God as their Spiritual Father. They view Him as some all powerful being that is out there somewhere and causes things, be they good or bad, to happen to them. But when you view God in that light, you are missing out on so much. You fall into that trap that pattern that we talked about above where we don't care about Him, we don't care what He can help us do, we only need Him in times of trouble. He essentially becomes the Ghostbuster, you only call Him when your in trouble, just like the 80's movie themesong says.

But if we can break through that and view Him as our Father, as someone who cares about us and wants to know how we are doing, then we find that we have a relationship with God that is amazing. My daughter loves to watch Veggietales. We like them too because they teach good principles and help re-enforce what we are trying to teach my daughter. I was watching one of the commentaries yesterday of a new video we picked up for her and on it one of the voice actors stated that she wrote a song for one of the characters that is a prayer he is singing to God. She said she wrote it the way she did because it is how she wants her relationship with God to be. She wants to be able to just tell God all about her day and be very innocent, like a child. I thought that was a wonderful ideal to strive for.

I think we should all strive to have that kind of a relationship with our Heavenly Father. We need to be respectful because He is God, but we need to talk with Him as we would our Father. He cares about what we are up to and what we are doing. He wants to hear all about it from us. Sure He is God and knows what we have to say already, but He wants to hear from us. And we should want to hear from Him too, and to talk to Him. That is the goal. That is what we should be striving for. If you don't have that kind of a relationship with God, work towards it. He really does want us to come back to Him but we will only be comfortable doing that if we come to understand Him as best we can in this life. That only happens through conversation, or prayer in this case. The ball is in our court. Make sure you do something with it. Until tomorrow.