Monday, September 29, 2014

1919 Witness of Christ

In 1918, President Joseph F. Smith, who was President of the Church of Jesus Christ, passed away in November. The vacancy created by his passing led Heber J. Grant to be called as the prophet, and Melvin J. Ballard called to be an apostle.
Here is the testimony he bore to the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve on January 7, 1919, the day he was ordained an Apostle:

"I know, as I know that I live, that this is God’s work and that you are His servants. … I remember one testimony, among the many testimonies which I have received. … Two years ago, about this time, I had been on the Fort Peck Reservation for several days with the brethren, solving the problems connected with our work among the Lamanites. Many questions arose that we had to settle. There was no precedent for us to follow, and we just had to go to the Lord and tell Him our troubles, and get inspiration and help from Him. On this occasion I had sought the Lord, under such circumstances, and that night I received a wonderful manifestation and impression which has never left me. I was carried to this place—into this room. I saw myself here with you. I was told there was another privilege that was to be mine; and I was led into a room where I was informed I was to meet someone. As I entered the room I saw, seated on a raised platform, the most glorious being I have ever conceived of, and was taken forward to be introduced to Him. As I approached He smiled, called my name, and stretched out His hands towards me. If I live to be a million years old I shall never forget that smile. He put His arms around me and kissed me, as He took me into His bosom, and He blessed me until my whole being was thrilled. As He finished I fell at His feet, and there saw the marks of the nails; and as I kissed them, with deep joy swelling through my whole being, I felt that I was in heaven indeed. The feeling that came to my heart then was: Oh! If I could live worthy, though it would require four-score years, so that in the end when I have finished I could go into His presence and receive the feeling that I then had in His presence, I would give everything that I am or ever hope to be!” (Melvin J. Ballard—Crusader for Righteousness, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 65–66.)
(See The Blessings of Sacrifice" by M. Russell Ballard in April 1992 General Conference)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Savior, Redeemer Of My Soul

We watched the movie "17 Miracles" today. Such a powerful movie, please get it and watch it if you haven't. Amazing true stories. This song is played during the movie and during the credits too~ which just makes the tears flow even faster. Dallyn Vail Bayles is the man who sings it in the movie and in this video below too. I love it. I love the Lord.
I can never repay Him for all he's given me. Because of his sacrifice, I will be with my wonderful best friend and our beautiful children forever. I'm so thankful to Heavenly Father for my children and life He's blessed me with. I want to do all I can to glorify God and his Christ with the blessings they've given me. I will teach them of Him. I pray I might do His will all the days of my life. The lyrics of this song express the feelings in my heart better than I can type it... I love Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ.

Savior, Redeemer of my soul,
Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
Whose wondrous pow'r hath raised me up
And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell,
O gracious God of Israel.

Never can I repay thee, Lord,
But I can love thee. Thy pure word,
Hath it not been my one delight,
My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still,
And all my life reflect thy will.

O'errule mine acts to serve thine ends.
Change frowning foes to smiling friends.
Chasten my soul till I shall be
In perfect harmony with thee.
Make me more worthy of thy love,
And fit me for the life above.

Text: Orson F. Whitney, 1855-1931

Saturday, September 20, 2014


I listened to this talk by President Packer over a year ago, while running errands as I waited for Melodie to be finished with her Orchestra class. Happened upon it randomly but it was revelation to me and exactly what I needed to hear for thoughts that had been on my mind. I had been thinking of bloggers on the internet who are critical of the brethren and church (nicely summed up here). As I listened, I learned. President Packers words that were answers for me came from his talk "Reverence Invites Revelation", October 1991 General Conference. First - we can ask and knock, but we cannot force it. If we try to force revelation, we may be deceived. President Packer states (underlined emphasis mine):

No message appears in scripture more times, in more ways than, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” (Matt. 21:22James 4:31 Jn. 3:221 Ne. 15:11;Enos 1:15Mosiah 4:21D&C 4:7; and Moses 6:52 are examples.) While we may invite this communication, it can never be forced! If we try to force it, we may be deceived.

We cannot force a divine theophany. We can yearn and seek and study, but then we've got to turn it over to the Lord and his timing. As we wait upon the Lord we will learn patience and trust. Also, regarding whether writers of books or bloggers on the internet have more understanding of scripture or doctrine than do the leaders of the church, he states, I'm in the brethren camp:

Recently the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles issued a statement alerting members of the Church to the dangers of participating in circles which concentrate on doctrine and ordinances and measure them by the intellect alone.
If doctrines and behavior are measured by the intellect alone, the essential spiritual ingredient is missing, and we will be misled.
Personal testimony is confirmed to us initially and is reaffirmed and enlarged thereafter through a harmonious combining of both the intellect and the spirit.
A testimony is profoundly personal, and occurs in response to very private prayers and pleadings. Nevertheless, the Lord has told us, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20; see also D&C 6:32.)
There is safety in learning doctrine in gatherings which are sponsored by proper authority. Some members, even some who have made covenants in the temple, are associating with groups of one kind or another which have an element of secrecy about them and which pretend to have some higher source of inspiration concerning the fulfillment of prophecies than do ward or stake leaders or the General Authorities of the Church. Know this: There are counterfeit revelations which, we are warned, “if possible … shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant.” (JS—M 1:22.)
The Lord commanded: “Assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves. … Continue in prayer and fasting. … Teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom. … And my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand.” (D&C 88:74–80.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Create Zion Through Unity at Church

Letter 16 of the Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis (page 81 in my book) is a small chapter entirely dedicated to the topic of church attendance and how it Satan can use it to undermine faith, hope, and love. In the beginning of the letter, Screwtape offers this advice to Wormwood:

"Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.

"The reasons are obvious. In the first place the parochial organization should always be attacked, because, begin a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the Enemy desires. The congregational principle, on the other hand, makes each church into a kind of club, and finally, if all goes well, into a coterie or faction. In the second place, the search for a 'suitable' church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil. What He wants for the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritical in the sense that it does not appraise--does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going. This attitude, especially during sermons, creates the condition most hostile to our whole policy, in which platitudes can become really audible to a human soul. There is hardly any sermon, or any book, which may not be dangerous to us if it is received in this temper. So pray bestir yourself and send this fool the round of the neighbouring churches as soon as possible." 

So, Screwtape’s dislike for churches are because of their potentional to be places of unity and learning. 
Churches bring together people of many different cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, and ways of thinking. Churches, by their very nature, are communal and inviting. Evil, by its nature, is divisive and excluding. To combat the benefit of unity, Screwtape suggests that people be tempted to understand their churches to be more like clubs, where only particular kinds of people can belong. If our Sunday worship is approached in this way, it will inevitably lead to the division that the adversary desires. We should go to church (and throughout our daily lives really) welcoming to others and receptive to the Lord's tutoring. As we interact with the people of different opinions at work, online, and in our schools and neighborhoods, we will be allowing the Lord will to teach us how to feel as he feels, and love and he loves. 

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." - John 13:35

Screwtape also despises churches is because they are places of learning—especially learning about his “enemy,” God. Growing in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding leads us deeper into humility and, therefore, closer to the God. The way to stop such education, according to Screwtape, is to tempt human beings to search for a “suitable” church. As a side note, reading that part made me feel very grateful for inspirational way the LDS church is organized geographically. When we've traveled abroad, as soon as we had our address, we knew which ward and stake we belong to. It's already decided. Imagine - if we were to go to each ward trying to decide if we liked it and if it was suitable to us, that would quickly destroy the unity needed in Christ's church. Plus, if we were to choose by ourselves which ward to join, it would likely be one that we don't find challenging and whose membership contains similar people, right? We'd become critics instead of pupils. So I loved that part and think it's a good litmus test for our own hearts: are we going to church as pupils or critics? Sadly, you don't need to go far on the internet to find that Satan is having success in dividing the church and the members in it as they criticize the LDS Church and it's leaders. Rarely will the devil's attempts appear blatantly evil or divisive. The adversary is far too smart for that. Instead, it will appear innocent, maybe even spiritual. It might even appear as an important need within the Church. But, once people’s pride gets involved, division will manifest itself. Every Christian and Saint should be diligent in praying for unity in the Church. 

So, after finding the “suitable” church, Screwtape suggests that humans be tempted to join a particular faction or “party” within the parish. He writes, “If your patient can’t be kept out of the Church, [then] he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it.” And, where there are various parties, there are numerous divisions. Lewis' insights invite us to look at our own criticalness. Do we spend the church service judging the people around us? Do we leave Church only to criticize the lessons, the teachers, the music, people’s clothing, couples’ parenting, etc.? Have we missed an opportunity to learn because we were too busy critiquing? Lewis reminds us that Church is about unity within diversity, solidarity through acceptance, learning through humility, all leading to our greatest hope - that of becoming like our Savior and receiving eternal life through his merits and mercy and grace. 

"Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

His Servants

We had wonderful meetings at church yesterday. During a talk in sacrament meeting, a young newlywed couple, Bro and Sister Locke, spoke. They are both converts, the husband, Austin, joined the church when he was 18. He shared that recently on a business trip, when he was late for a gathering because he attended his Sunday meetings, someone asked, "So, I guess you're Mormon?" He replied yes. The person then asked if he'd always been a member, and was surprised when he replied no. He chose to join the church when he was 18. "Why would you chose to join that church! ...All those restrictions!!" and I loved his answer "Well, I wasn't worried about restrictions. I was grateful for direction."

That is what the Church, the Scriptures, and the Prophets give us - DIRECTION!!!

I received wonderful direction yesterday. I woke up early and read my scriptures. I started in 3 Nephi 11. I planned on just reading until I found the part where Christ tells the Nephites that they were blessed because they had seen him, and that "more blessed are those who have not seen me, yet have believed on your words" - something to that effect. I found it quickly cause it was in 3 Nephi 12:1-2:

And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, (now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am. 

And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.

I was thinking about what is the greatest thing we can achieve in this life - is seeing God and having him minister to us the greatest thing we can strive for and hope to achieve? How about a promise to have eternal life? What about having power over death to be able to stay on earth and serve and minister until Christ comes again? (that last one I think has the Savior's stamp of appoval 3 Nephi 28:7-9) It would be a blessed experience to see the Lord, that is sure, but Christ says it is even "more blessed" (3 Nephi 12:2) if we just believe on the words of those who have seen. Also, Christ taught this to his people after he had just called 12 apostles from among them. Which was the other thing on my mind: Some people on the blog-osphere seem to be upset about having leaders trying to come between them and God - "Follow the Prophet - NO! I follow Christ!" Well guess what we learn from these verses (and really from ALL OF THE BIBLE and written word (which was written by PROPHETS!)) we learn that Christ calls servants to do this work! Just because we follow a prophet and apostles does not mean we are following them instead of Christ, we follow them because they are called by him and chosen by him to minister unto us! If you don't believe that you pretty much are discounting all scripture. Don't do that - Christ calls prophets, they are chosen by HIM, and Christ testified that we will be blessed if we give heed unto their words.
So, after reading that, I went to check in on a blogger who I read occasionally who is favoring Bro. Snuffer over the Prophet and Apostles. And was disappointed but I can't say surprised that his most recent post stated that he had resigned from the church.

A few things that they seem to have concerns about are:
  • The Correlation Department
  • The Church Handbook of Instructions
  • Tithing not going 100% to help the poor (some used for churches, temples, BYU, etc)
  • That the Church lies in claiming it says it has something that it does not actually have (fullness of the priesthood I think?)
  • The Conference Center is like a big and Spacious building, and perhaps our Pioneer ancestors would be disappointed to see how worldly we've become (end of this post)
  • That the church today is nothing like the church Joseph Smith organized in 1830.
There are more things that they say, I don't have the time to address these very much, but on the last point there, that is one the resigned brother mentions in his post under "Study the doctrine, but not too much" - and I have to say yes, he is absolutely right. The Church today has changed dramatically from the one Joseph Smith organized. Joseph Smith himself said to the brethren in 1834 that they didn't comprehend what the church would become (...and if it was the same today as it was then, then they would have been able to comprehend it, right? Yes. But they didn't, cause it's going to change and grow and become so much more than they could envision)... here's the quote:

Although the Church was very small in the beginning, Joseph Smith had a prophetic sense of its grand destiny. Wilford Woodruff recalled that during a priesthood meeting at Kirtland, Ohio, in April 1834, the Prophet tried to awaken the brethren to a realization of the future state of God’s kingdom on earth:
“The Prophet called on all who held the Priesthood to gather into the little log school house they had there. It was a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. But it held the whole of the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were then in the town of Kirtland. … When we got together the Prophet called upon the Elders of Israel with him to bear testimony of this work. … When they got through the Prophet said, ‘Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.’ I was rather surprised. He said, ‘It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.’” - Teaching of Joseph Smith, Chapter 11
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today is that church that Joseph foresaw. It is in all the world, and will continue to grow to fill the earth. It is important that we remain with the church, I know that the church is on course. I know that the prophet and apostles are His servants. As Elder Maxwell counseled, let us become settled in our hearts ~ and not be found "in deliberate noncompliance, including some who cast off on intellectual and behavioral bungee cords in search of new sensations, only to be jerked about by the old heresies and the old sins."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Modern Captain Moroni

I have recently been introduced to Tim Ballard (via a blog post by Stephanie Nielson). He really is a hero, I'm learning as much as I can about him and will be praying and supporting him in his cause - Operation Underground Railroad. He's like a modern day Captain Moroni, evident by his love of country and his leading out in fighting what might perhaps be the greatest evil in our world - child sex trafficking. Seriously, could you offend God any worse than that? It's bad to "offend" the little ones (putting it mildly, perhaps? (Matthew 18:6)), can you imagine how those who rape them will be condemned? I was ignoring this wickedness before. When I heard about sex trafficking, I assumed I knew what it was about, but nothing I can do, so I didn't care or listen. Besides, I didn't want to hear or think about bad stuff like that. But I'm not going to ignore it anymore. There is a great wickedness among us that we need to rise up and stop.

So, as I did more internet searches, find out there's also an author named Timothy Ballard, and look at that, it's the same guy! I found this lecture he gave about his book (just ordered). He is awesome.

Makes me love even more our great country of America and it's history and the miraculous restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God bless America, that we will always be one nation under Him. Help us to rise up and defeat this evil, that we can be of one heart and one mind and build up Zion where there will be no poor, and peace and purity will be in our homes and hearts. Please watch that video, it is excellent.
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