Scourging?

I promise I do not have a preconceived idea of what I am trying to do here.  This is not solely meant as a series of political treatises.  Perhaps these topics are on my mind and that is why the are jumping out at me.  Who knows.  Tonight’s will be one somewhat in the same vein.

Yesterday I dealt with a land that was to be one of promise.  If the people who possess the land are not righteous and keep the commandments, then the land would be given to another nation.  While that has some scary implications, I find this scripture to be a bit more troubling.

We find the Nephites have now left the Lamanites.  Of course, they are not called by those names yet, but they will be.  There is something fascinating here.  They were those who followed the Lord, kept the commandments, and had to leave their brethren due to the stress they brought upon them.  As they broke away, they did not take on the name of Jesus, or even that of Christ because these people did not know that yet.  They took on the name of Nephi, prophet.  They did not take on the name of the Almighty, Yahweh, Lord, or even Lord God.  They took Nephi.  Due to the tradition this would start, we know this would cause the disputations that would arise in 3 Nephi.  We take it for granted that the name of the church would be after Jesus Christ, but I can sense what their frustration might have been when they were trying to figure out what to call the church after Christ’s coming.  I can see some of the difficulty even in our day.  Anyhow, I am on a tangent.

Nephi takes his people and teaches them to be industrious.  They build buildings, even a temple, and a host of other occupations.  There are the smiths, the carvers, the carpenters, the miners, and the farmers.  Then they give the contrast of those who are not righteous, those who keep not the covenants/commandments.

“…they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.” (2 Nephi 5:24).  There are other scriptures that give us more explanation of those who keep not the covenants.  “…after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations” (1 Nephi 12:23).  “…their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax.  And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us” (Enos 1:20).  “…after their dissensions they became more hardened and impenitent, and more wild, wicked and ferocious…giving way to indolence, and all manner of lasciviousness; yea, entirely forgetting the Lord their God” (Alma 47:36).  “….who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.  Thus they were a very indolent people, many of whom did worship idols, and the curse of God had fallen upon them…” (Alma 17:24-25).

While I don’t want to give an expose on the characteristics of the ungodly, we do see some of these which are in society and which Latter-day Saints are expressly told to avoid.  The Word of Wisdom is most pronounced.

The contract of the wicked are given to us.  But then comes the clencher.

“And the Lord God said unto me: They (the Lamanites) shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction” (2 Nephi 2:25).

That gives a scary scenario!  These less than obedient individuals are allowed to remain.  Moreover, they will be the one’s who will afflict the righteous when they become not so righteous.  Even more, they will scourge them unto destruction.  That sounds like a pretty good incentive not to lose your blessed and promised state.  Remember, the Lord promised them this land in safety forever if they would remain faithful.  If not, then the promise is they will be scourged, even to destruction.  We see this take place with the Jaredites, we see it with the Nephites later.  The scenario plays out throughout the Old Testament too.

Like most scriptures in the Book of Mormon, this is not the only instance where this counsel is given.  Here are a few more.  “And if it so be that they rebel against me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance” (1 Nephi 2:24).  “…the Lord will deliver them up, that thereby they become weak like unto their brethren; and he will no more preserve them by his matchless and marvelous power, as he has hitherto preserved our fathers” (Mosiah 1:13).  “…the great slaughter which was among them, would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness and their abomination which was among them; yea, and it was among those also who professed to belong to the church of God” (Helaman 4:11).  “…because of iniquity amongst themselves, yea, because of dissensions and intrigue among themselves they were placed in the most dangerous circumstances” (Alma 53:9).  “…for it has been their quarrelings and their contentions, yea, their murderings, and their plunderings, their idolatry, their whoredoms, and their abominations, which were among themselves, which brought upon them their wars and their destructions” (Alma 50:21).  “…Surely God shall not suffer that we , who are despised because we take upon us the name of Christ, shall be trodden down and destroyed, until we bring it upon us by our own transgressions” (Alma 46:18).  “But behold, I say unto you that if ye persist in your wickedness that your days shall not be prolonged in the land, for the Lamanites shall be sent upon you; and if ye repent not they shall come in a time when you know not, and ye shall be visited with utter destruction ;and it shall be according to the fierce anger of the Lord” (Alma 9:18).  “…I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall treat them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people…” (3 Nephi 16:15).

If we should think this is something only Mormon, it is also Biblical.

“Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before  you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you” (Joshua 23:13).  “…he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.  Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed” (Judges 2:14-15).  “If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.  But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge” (Job 36:11-12).  “Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations.  Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hands of their enemies, who vexed them…they did evil again before thee: therefore lettest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them…yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give year: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands” (Nehemiah 9:26-30).  “Wherefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.  Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far…” (Jeremiah 5:14-15).

You get the picture.  Also take a look at Chapter 28 of Deuteronomy and Chapter 26 of Leviticus.  The Lord even tells of the time he used Israel for the destruction of another nation because of their wickedness in Deuteronomy 9:4-5, “Speak not thou in thine heart, after the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee.  Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

We see how yesterday we described how the Lord would supplant a nation with another nation.  A scourge could certainly be so great so as to replace a nation by violence.  It doesn’t seem that would be the plan for this nation, just that other nations are being allowed to scourge us.  It is an entirely different treatise to show that the Lord will protect and fight the battles for the righteous, perhaps I can cover some of those later (See D&C 98 for a good start).  But here we are showing that other nations can scourge us due to not being valiantly obedient.

These promises are also against those who are being allowed to scourge us.  This scripture shows that God is no respecter of persons.  Those doing the scourging can be scourged if they later reject great obedience to eternal law.

“And they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land.  Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fulness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father” (3 Nephi 20:28).

So we are to be faithful or else have the chances of scourging.  Just how disobedient a people have to be for scourging I am not sure.  After all, one of the scriptures I referenced earlier (Helaman 4:11) stated that just having blatant disobedience AMONG them could bring upon these problems.  A bit of a Lot scenario.  Just because there are a few righteous won’t save the rest of them.

The righteous will have some scourging on no account of their own.  What are we to do then?  “…if men will smite you, or your families, once, and ye bear it patiently and revile not against them, neither seek ye revenge, ye shall be rewarded.  But if ye bear it not patiently, it shall be accounted unto you as being meted out as a just measure unto you” (D&C 98:23-24).  You go on being obedient and faithful.

I should be wrapping this up.  I cannot help but see what applications this could have to us as a people, a church, and as a nation.  As we are faithful, the Lord will fight our battles for us and keep us from harm.  I do believe this could be by giving us warning and by thwarting the adversary himself or through us.  When we find we are more and more vulnerable, perhaps we should not be so quick to point fingers, find vengeance, but to look inward.  Find out what we are doing that appears to be lessening our promises from heaven.  Does it appear we are being scourged?  9/11 looks like a scourge of some type.  The scriptures don’t say the people who scourge us are always wicked, half the time they are only ignorant of God’s laws.

Remember, if we bear it not patiently, it is meted out as just measure unto us.  Like President Kimball told of the story of the last summer.  When they found out one was going to betray them/Christ they looked inward and asked, “Is it I?”  Perhaps we should do the same.  When we are afflicted and scourged by other nations, however small, we should ask, “Is it I?”  Rather than looking at them who did the scourging with a condescension and looking for revenge, we should look inward and repent.

I know of only one politician currently running for President who subscribes to this idea.  Perhaps we should seek them out and learn more of their ideas.  After all, they appear to be the most Christian.

“But behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed” (Mormon 4:5).

Giving the nation over?

The last blog entry I wrote dealt with those who come to this nation.  It appears all who come will be brought by the hand of the Lord, regardless of whether we want to do anything about it or not.  This entry seems to go along those lines.  There are several verses from the same chapter (2 Nephi 1) which give a scenario which doesn’t play well in American Manifest Destiny.
“Therefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring…it shall be a land of liberty…wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity…unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (vs 7).
When I visit with people, this is what it seems they read from the scripture.  However, the same verse also contains the following verbage, “…if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments…never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes…”
This land will only be a land of liberty if those who have been brought here (by the hand of the Lord; or born) keep the commandments.  But if they do not, the land will be cursed.  Let us make sure we understand there is an ‘if’ clause in the contract.  Then we see an example of how this took previously in verse 9.
“Where, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves.  And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.”
It is interested to read these comments concerning the family of Lehi and others who come from Jerusalem.  The promise was that they would dwell safely FOREVER!  That seems like a great space of time.  Not just a few years, the cycle of democracy, or even a millenium.  It was to be forever in safety if they kept the commandments.  What a great promise.
The feeling toward this nation, even before Joseph Smith, was that this society was different.  It was the light on a hill.  It was to be the example to the rest of the world.  I see no reason why these promises would not hold the same for us.  After all, God is no respecter of persons.  Even if it did not apply, I see no reason why we as a people could not obtain the same promise to apply to us.  Then comes the next verse, 10.
“But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord-“
I will resume to verse, but these are some pretty remarkable blessings (promises) from the Lord.
“…having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given to do all things by faith;”
This scripture would seem to apply many more times to us in our day than to those in their day.  Our knowledge of all men, of the creation of the earth, seems to be many times what they would have possessed.  Moreover, we seem so much more capable to do such marvelous and wonderful things in our day compared to theirs.  Indeed, even to do ALL things, and we know that anything we do it is by faith.
“…having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precous land of promise-behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them.”
With such great blessings and promises given, of course there would be a consequence if we should reject them.  Well, what would they be.  The next verse gives us a haunting thought, which may be happening some even now.
“Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten.
He will bring other nations unto them, and give them power.  Doesn’t look like it will matter much what those current possessors will try to do to curb the tide of immigration, these other nations are going to come unto them.  We know we have other nations which are moving in whether we want them to or not.
Lastly, verse 12, the fate seems sealed for the nation which had promises to live safely forever if they would but live the commandments.  But if not, “Yea, as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds, and great visitations among them; wherefore, my sons, I would that ye would remember; yea, I would that ye would hearken unto my words.”
Not only will another nation come in and take over, there will be bloodsheds and great visitations.  I don’t know exactly what a great visitation is, it certainly doesn’t sound pleasant.  Could the Trade Towers be a great visitation?  Who knows.
Definitely something to think about.  Are we in this cycle?  Does it apply to us?  If it does, where are we in the cycle?

Immigration guided?

The immigration issue has been a topic of importance lately.  What is the proper decision, policy, and attitude we should take?  Open borders?  Closed borders?  Monitored immigration?  Initially when the nation was founded, immigration was open.  Any and all were welcome.  Slowly we began to regulate and require certain things of those who came into the nation.  Citizenship requirements have changed.  By the 1880’s we were numbering and giving minimums for those coming into the country.
What is the proper way to administer immigration?  If we go for the Founder’s view, it would be a pretty loose interpretation.  Basically, anything goes (or anything comes).  That certainly doesn’t seem to be anything the majority of American’s would be willing to accept at present.  Anyone’s opinion is really valid now when it comes to historical pretext.  We have covered the entire field.
What is the role of immigration with regards to what God would prefer?  I am not entirely sure.  Here is our scripture for thought.
2 Nephi 1:6
“Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.”
This scripture seems to be pretty straight forward.  NONE shall come UNLESS the Lord has brought them.  This is a Prophet speaking.  What is more, it is another Prophet who is recording the comments of another.  In a sense, we have two witnesses of this statement.  Moreover, Lehi himself states it is a prophecy.
That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for play.  Two prophets state, in positive terms, ALL who come to this nation will be brought by the Lord.  The question is then, what about our immigration policy?  If we try to limit it, are we acting against God’s will?  For all these who come in still, even illegally, should we hold such a vindictive attitude towards them?  Are we in a sense an Uzza reaching forth to steady the ark?
The statement seems like it would be still in effect?  There doesn’t appear to be anything in the previous or following verses that would limit it to 1492 to 1827.  Certainly, the LDS would not hold such a view.  The LDS would hold this immigration lead by the hand of the Lord continued en mass at least through 1910.  Why the change?
The gathering is to Stakes of Zion rather than to a central location now.  But this doesn’t appear to be talking about a gathering, or even the covenant people.  NONE seem so be a pretty exclusive statement for those who are covenant or not.
I suppose the real question is should we open the borders and allow all to come?  Or is the Lord inspiring our politicians to limit the immigration while at the same time inspiring others to break that limiting?
LDS are expected to keep the laws of the land, but will the Lord inspire others to break those laws the Saints are expected to uphold?  We hear cries all over against the Hispanic influx.  Is this inspired and is man putting forth his puny arm to stop the flow that God has decreed?  None shall come save it be by the hand of the Lord.
I really don’t know.  But it certainly makes me think.  Personally America is the idea of a tent of charity and of good will.  To me it seems that all are welcome and we will welcome them with open arms.
In the Old Testament, the immigrant went by another name; stranger.  Reminds me of the old western movies.  Do a search of the Old Testament and you shall see quite a few laws and regulations concerning strangers.  They were expected to hold the rest of Israel’s laws faithfully.  Those out of the covenant were treated equally, but were restricted from covenant promises and practices.
One of the first scriptures that come to mind is the reminder the Lord gives to Israel.  Strangers are to be treated well, after all, all Israel was a stranger in the land of Egypt.  It is the old golden rule.  Do unto others as you would have done unto you.  “Also, thou shalt not oppress a stranger, for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Ex 23:9).
Strangers could buy and sell unfettered.  They could even take some of those under the covenant as slaves (Lev 25).
Strangers were to be given the same laws as the covenant folk.  Additionally, they were to be treated equally before the law.  Even in breaking the law, the stranger was to be treated the same as the children of Israel (Num 15).
Strangers could even offer up burnt offerings.  They were expected to live the same law of health (Lev 22).
Remember, Israel after wandering went into Canaan to take possession of the Land.  The Lord even told them they were being given a land wherein they were going to be the stranger.  The Lord was going to give them the land, despite what the residents thought.  It was when the current residents fought back, and the residents along the way, that they lost their lives (Gen 17:8)  They could very well have assimilated as many other societies have done.
This always brings new meaning to the stranger referenced Matthew 25.  Whatsoever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.  But he uses the phrase ‘Stranger’ several times.  “I was a stranger and ye took me in” (vs 35).  “When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?” (vs 38).  “I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?” (vs 43-44).
“Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the Land of Egypt” (Deut 10:19).
“And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.  When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; Then thou shalt say before the Lord thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou has commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:” (Deut 26:11-13).
Indeed, the stranger is even classified among the widows and orphans in a requirement for Israel to reach out to them (Deut 24).
Strangers could not take part of temple worship or passover.  Unless, they were willing to be circumcised, then they were no more strangers (similar to citizenship??) (Ex 12).
I will leave it there.  I have turned from the degree of immigration to how we should treat the immigrant.  There doesn’t seem to be a qualification of whether they were living among Israel legally or not.  God seems no respecter of persons.  Why would we treat with harshness the stranger in our midst, legal or not?
Turning back to the original question, I would definitely lean towards open borders and open communication.  It seems most arguments against open borders are for selfish reasons.  Our jobs, our land, our territory and more.  Perhaps we should re-evaluate.

More of the same; Life

Time keeps ticking by too quickly sometimes.  I have so much to write but not as much time as I would like to do it in.  Such is the limitations in the probationary game.  There are plenty of achievements to report though in the past week or two.
This evening I spoke with Gerald Neuffer in Columbia, Missouri.  In a most random turn of events, I noticed that a Jenna Neuffer became friends with my friend, Kami Lowe on Facebook.  With a name as rare as Neuffer, I knew all odds were in my favor of having a near shared ancestry.  I sent Miss Neuffer a message and asked for her Grandfather’s name and phone number.  Which she supplied.  Come to find out, I even had Gerald already in my family history.  I just had his first name Myron (Gerald is his middle name but he goes by it.  Probably due to remove confusion with his father’s name being Myron).  He knew the Andra’s well and said he remembered Millie, who was just younger than him.  Funny how small a world it is.  He went to get his PhD and never left Columbia after moving there in 1947.  We conversed for a little while he dug for information verifying I was not this total stranger calling for his family history for some other sinister reason.  He sounds like a good guy.  He asked if I was doing genealogy.  I confirmed I was and that I was the family historian.  He then happily related he was basically that for the Neuffer/Nuffer family.  I was definitely glad to hear that.  What is the chances of the Andra historian running into the Nuffer historian in Columbia Missouri?  Very far removed from Preston, Idaho!
I received a phone call from Jacqui yesterday about the Phibbs/Ross/Beachell family.  I tried returning her call and spoke with her mother for a few minutes.  I am glad she finally returned my message.  I only left it in May!  That was before we moved!
In other news, there was an e-mail that found its way to me from Robert in Fresno, California.  A most interesting question.  He asked if I knew of any of the siblings of my Constance Jorgensen.  I always felt Constance most likely had siblings but was never able to find any.  Between her parents marriage and Constance’s birth, there is twelve years.  I was sure there were other siblings.  Olavus and Hanna Mathea Jorgensen immigrated with Constance and settled in Richmond, Utah.  Constance married Ole Christiansen and gave birth to my Great Great Grandmother Martha Christiansen who is the mother of my Lillian Coley.  Constance died in Portland, Oregon while visiting and was buried there.  In the whole episode, I knew some day I would have to do some research in Norway to find the rest of this family.  Well, Robert e-mailed me asking me if his grandmother, Amanda Jorgensen Swensen could be a child of Olavus and Hanna.  He produced a copy of a hand written copy pedigree she had produced in 1935.  Sure enough, everything lined up.  Well, Amanda was born another 12 years after my Constance (24 after the marriage of the parents).  She immigrated to Utah a good 10 years after her parents and sibling came over and settled in Logan, Utah.  By the time she arrived her parents were both deceased and her sister had married.  It seems that she never knew she was only 15 miles from her parent’s graves and her sister.  The exciting news is that Amanda gave us the names of her siblings, none of which made it to America to her knowledge.  We added the 5 siblings.  Don’t know their ages, but definitely gives some more to go from.  That will give us much more to go from when the time for the Norway research begins.
I am happy to report I completed the New Testament this evening.  I am one day late.  If I had read the one chapter a day, I would have finished yesterday.  Last weekend put me just off enough that I did not catch up in time.  I completed the Book of Mormon on schedule this year on August 27th.  Now I can go through some General Conference talks and some other reading for the year.  Next year is the Doctrine and Covenants which you can almost read three times in a year.  I think I will just do it twice though.
The ward continues to blossom when it comes to family history.  It seems like people are doing their homework, research, and compiling regularly.  I have e-mails at least once or twice a week for help on something.  That is an indication something is going on.  That is definitely something which is a good thing.
Online the family history work continues to reveal new and interesting things.  I received an e-mail from a Homer Mason.  He was inquiring concerning the Jonas family in Washington State.  Come to find out, Anna Jonas is his Grandmother.  Anna was the daughter of William Jonas who was the brother to my Joseph Jonas; father to my great grandfather Joseph Nelson Jonas.  He knows very little so it has been fun introducing him to the family.  I have especially enjoyed his research on a line of the family I have not been able to crack.  It has proved not to be an easy line for him, but with his living in Yakima, he is much closer and capable of doing the work than I can.  I really hope I am accepted to the University of Idaho for Law School.  Then I could work on the Jonas, Ross, and Sharp lines in Washington State.
Stepping back to the Andra family.  This past weekend Amanda and I took a trip to Washington DC for our monthly temple visit.  But a new aspect as emerged.  My Great Uncle and Aunt, Donald and Lolane Andra, are now serving a mission in the temple.  We went up Friday night and stayed with Amanda’s Uncle and Aunt in Springfield.  Saturday we picked up Don and Lolane and made our way to Mt. Vernon.  They thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  It was the 18th Century Fair so there were masses of people.  Don and Lolane are good and quick on their feet.  Despite being in their 60’s they move well.  Don reminds me so much of my Great Grandpa.  I get a kick out of both of them.  We were limited on time as they had to be to the temple to work later in the afternoon.  We did probably the fastest walking tour of Mt. Vernon I can imagine.  We zoomed all over the grounds, through the fair, and then back up to their apartment to change and attend the temple.
On a side note, as I went into the endowment room, I noticed the officiator’s name was John Whatcott.  I looked at him and asked if he was from Kanosh.  He looked a bit surprised at me and said he grew up there.  I told him of the Whatcott’s I knew.  After the session he asked me to remain in the celestial room so we could visit.  We had a great visit.  Come to find out he knows Don and Lolane from St. George.  Small world.  Don knew which session we were on and waited for us to leave the celestial room.  He walked us down to the next floor and we parted again.  I met Don’s Home Teaching companion, Elder Toronto, while picking up Amanda’s Aunt’s glasses from the temple lost and found.  Funny how interlinked the world is, at least in the church.
I have not made mention of it yet, but I am going from contractor status to full associate status at Bank of America.  Meaning, I will be an employee of Bank of America and not an at will person filling a seat.  Many companies now do the contractor business as they can then hire on employees after they have shown their worth.  I must have done well enough for them to offer me employment starting October 1.  I am excited.  Business has been picking up.  I don’t know if it is from the crunch in the market or what.  Bank of America definitely stands on higher ground than those feeling the squeeze or sinking under the housing market.  One thing is for sure, with this rate cut, we are expecting the next month to be hectic.
My birthday came and went just like every other day or the year.  I am back to being congratulated for it being my unbirthday.  I received all sorts of e-mails (which will take me a good week to respond to them all), many messages on Facebook, and a couple of cards and gifts.  Amanda and I enjoyed a nice big meal at Chili’s for dinner.  We joked about it being our triannual beef night.  It is birthdays or anniversary that I get to eat a steak.  Monday was a 12 oz Ribeye.  Mmmm, so good.  That is of course not mentioning the Idaho potatos.  Amanda got me a shirt, a jump drive, and something else which slips me at the moment.  I also received a journal, a few checks, and some other random memorabilia.  I honestly don’t feel any different now than I think I did when I was 19.  Except the fact my knee was reconstructed in 2004 and doesn’t give me the issues it did at 19.  So I guess I feel better than at 19.  I have filled out in stature, even added a little padding in the middle,  and perhaps a little wiser.  Life is good.
My blessings continue to flow despite my inept nature.  I continue to be given the little peaceable things of the kingdom from time to time.  They make the living and endurance all worth it.  Line upon line right?  Sometimes I wish it was more page upon page, but alas, I am not the one running the show.  Church goes well.  I feel spiritually well.  Not the muscular behemoth I would like to be spiritually, but I feel strong enough to do what needs to be done and any forseeable adventure.

TV’s and such

It seems to be one of those weeks where there isn’t necessarily a whole lot to tell.  So to make an entry, and anything with a little length, I will offer a smattering of thoughts from all over the spectrum.
A big Happy Birthday to Chris Horsley and Amanda Smith on the 14th.  I sent them both e-mails and wished them the best.  It is my Aunt Jackie’s birthday on the 25th, so Happy Birthday ahead of time.
Tuesday night Amanda and I went to pay a visit to Doris Coley.  She lives over in Laurel Fork area.  Amanda has worked with her for some time at Macy’s.  She lured Amanda over there in pursuit of a free TV and DVD player.  I really don’t care if we own either and would actually prefer not to.  That is just a little more weight I will have to worry about moving in a year and another distraction to take away some of what little time we mortals have been given.  Somehow I had come to believe it was a venture where we would go over and pick up the newly acquired property and head back home.  We made an evening of it.  We chatted about the nice lovely pleasantries of the life at Macy’s.  Conversation turned to life in general and school.  Of course I did a full analysis to see if her Coley line could in any way be related to mine (Hers is several hundreds of years in North Carolina making at least that long of a connection seeing how mine came directly from England).
She had a nice little piano in her living room that also became conversation.  She invited me to play it and before long I was in my own land while the women pondered paths I didn’t care to walk.  Before the night had ended we sang some hymns and even ended in a discussion about religion.  I ended the evening with giving her a copy of the Book of Mormon and basically a first discussion.  Sometimes I feel I am not as bold as I once was.  Honestly, it seems that one relies upon their companion so much to bear testimony and Amanda had no clue of the missionary ways that I think that is the only reason it felt pretty weak.  Sadly, I think both of us relied on trying to convince too much rather than just bearing testimony and letting the Spirit drive it to the heart.  Amanda left thinking we had been too bold and I left thinking we had not been bold enough.  She called us a few days later and made sure we were still planning on coming back.  Either way, we don’t seem to have offended.  I look forward to a return visit and whether or not she read any of the newly introduced sacred scripture.
Tonight I paid a visit to the Family History Library outside my normal working hours.  We had a pretty severe thunderstorm this evening and the two ladies working inside decided to go watch the storm for a minute.  Sadly, they left their keys in the library.  I rushed down thinking I would find two drowned older ladies.  Luckily enough they had only locked themselves out of the library, and not the building.  So I spent some time visiting with them about the Merrick’s of Maine/Massachusetts.  They decided to leave early so I played the piano and practiced some singing until a member of the Stake Presidency appeared to practice basketball.
Tuesday night at the library also proved to be interesting.  For the second week in a row a young man who is a recent convert came into the library to do some research.  He appeared with his laptop last week with PAF newly downloaded.  He started putting in his family.  He is preparing to go to the temple and wanted to do some of his own names for baptisms in about two weeks.  He never even knew who his Dad was last week.  This week he came back with dates and places and interestingly, was able to link him into the Cosby line.  Once we did that we were able to take him back to Jamestowne and even followed the line back 1,000 years.  He comes from a noble line in England.  He was amazed to find ancestors on both of his lines whose temple work had been done.  Some as early as 1932 in the Mesa, Arizona Temple.  I look forward to seeing him this coming Tuesday when we run these names through TempleReady.
Last Sunday we had our Stake Priesthood Meeting.  We were introduced to the new Mission President, President Millburn.  I prefer him much more than the last one.  He seems much more humble and able to connect with an audience.  In addition, he gave a great talk on fishing.  He is an expert at it, that is for sure.  Who else uses a stomach pump on a fish?  President Mullins (who interrupted my singing and playing tonight) gave a talk about various topics.  One was that individuals in the stake are not carrying their weight in fast offerings.  I thought that was interesting.  None of the other talks I remember.  However, the power in the singing was easily felt.
Today I was branded again at work due to a broker’s dishonesty.  A man gave me a complete sob story about why an appraisal was sufficient.  He manipulated my inexperience in working someone else’s loan, added with the other person not recording what they had done, and my not being thorough enough to catch the little red flags has now cost the bank a loan which is considered a risk and investors will not buy it.  Due to my approving of an updated appraisal, that wasn’t really updated, and the bank always standing by their word somebody got away with money that probably would not have been approved.  Like speeding tickets with points, I have now gained my first and hope they will wear off over time…  It is a good thing I no longer have access to that broker’s information for I would surely give him a phone call and let him know how sorely disappointed I am in him.  At any rate, “Let God choose between me and thee and reward thee according to thy deeds.”
Terry McComb’s funeral is going to be this coming Saturday.  I so wish I could be there.  Alas, we can’t do everything we want in life.  His obituary appeared today in the Times News.  I looked at it this morning at work.  I am looking forward to having my own clipping from the newspaper for my records.  I guess I will just have to pay a visit to the cemetery next time I get back to Idaho.  I so planned on spending a day or two in Branson on the way home for a lesson or two.  I guess I won’t now, at least stay for lessons.
We are headed up to Washington, DC again this weekend to attend the temple.  I am very much looking forward to it.  I have very much felt my faith increase this week and my soul feeling greatly nourished after some experiences in the scriptures.  2 Peter 2 and Ether 12 were powerful this week.
We received the Church News today and I read the parts about the new Brazil Temple.  I was thinking how excited President Faust must be to have the temple dedication coming up and realized he had passed away.  I guess he will be there at any rate, but not with a mortal body.  I wonder who will be called next.  I surely hope it is someone independent from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  I certainly think tradition and order are a good thing but it is always nice to shake things up from time to time.  Too often people get so rigid about the way things should be done we forget the role of inspiration being mixed in the bag.  I would really like to see a President of the Church not be the most senior Apostle.  How would that be for shaking things up?  We need more John Winder’s, Reuben Clark’s, Jedediah Grant’s, Hyrum Smith’s, and Charles Nibley’s in the world.
Lastly, I will end on a political note.  I haven’t had a political candidate really catch much of the sympathies of my heart.  They seem so canned and stale I can’t stand it.  However, Obama gave a comment this week about opening up government.  Boy, if reading an article ever stopped my heart, that was one of them.  A candidate willing to give full disclosure to the public?  If that becomes his whole purpose in life, I will most certainly vote for that man.  Well, that is only after he drops universal health care.  After my experiences in England,  will never support government ran health care.  But open disclosure?  How refreshing.  That requires more effort.  That requires doing things you know the whole country can be privy to.  Where would Bill Clinton be if he had known that?  How would things be different with Bush?  Either of them?  Watergate?  Iran-Contra?  New Deal?  War?  How would the world be different?

The Probationary Game

Sometimes the days go by so quickly it is hard to keep up with everything you want to do.  I suppose it is part of the probationary game that we play.  Do we do things we want to do, or do we do what needs to be done.  Is there ever a point where you have everything done you need to do and can do those things you want?
To add to that problem, what about when it comes to the needs and wants of others.  I have come to believe that my needs come before my  wants.  What happens when somebody else has a need, for which I can help, does that trump my wants too.  So far in my life, it seems that is to be the case as well.
Today is a great example.  Brother and Sister Swapp were moving from their present house to another home within a mile distance.  I volunteered my time knowing how much it helps in having people to aid in moving.  I could very well have stayed at home and done many more other things, even things I think are more important.  But the need of the Swapp family ranked higher on the priority list.  For the most part, we finished all the move in about 4 hours.  I then had to very quickly, go home, get ready, and be back at the church in order to play piano for a baptismal service.  It went well, I enjoyed a few visits with some good people, took the missionaries home, and here I am back at home.
We are still not totally unpacked.  I feel like I should unpack, but I also feel a need to inform other people and let them know what is happening here.  I think there may be some procrastination in there, but I really want to record some thoughts and update the family and friends.  It takes time and effort to do this.  But I hope is that I feel a need to keep others informed and that overrides my wants of having my whole house unpacked and put away.  It will come.
I find myself at work 40 hours of the week.  The time we have for breaks and at lunch is not sufficient time to even read much of my book.  That is if I am a complete hermit and choose not to spend time with my classmates.  So half the week I spend eating lunch with them and listening most of the time.  I am the only guy in the group and they have a whole different set of things they want to talk about.  I will probably have to cut back some of that time as I don’t see it really doing much more than listening to conversations which are not of much value intellectually or socially for me.
I have books I want to read.  I still have McCullough’s Truman on the shelf and have had it for a couple of years.  It is a big book so it keeps falling down the list from other shorter books.  I have been struggling to find the time to finish Tiger in the Senate about Wayne Morse.  (He was a Senator from Oregon in the senate during the 40’s-60’s.)  I want to learn French, I want to relearn German, I want to learn Welsh, I want to write a book on C Ben Ross, I want to live in England, I want to visit friends and family, I want to read many more books, I want to learn so much, and yet these things keep falling by the wayside.  They really are good things, but somehow I cannot justify they are needs.
Just this week we helped the Jeppesen, Maravilla, and Swapp families move.  I have gone out with the missionaries and I have gone Home Teaching.  In addition, I have tried to make sure our budget is still planned, keep up to date on the registers and bills, answer the mail, write a letter to Mom, and many other things.  On top of that are the every day walk requirements of religion and life.  We wake in the morning to read a chapter of scripture together, say our prayers, shave, shower, dress, look pretty, and by that point we are racing out the door with our one auto world to be on time to two locations.  Sadly, the other half always runs late constantly and usually by the time I make it to work have lost any hope for maintaining the spirit that our reading and prayer is supposed to provide.  The single greatest blessing in my life to come will be the day when we have separate vehicles.  I know I am off on a tangent, but I know of only one thing that upsets me really, one thing that pushes me towards what I believe is anger, one thing that makes me forget my religion and want to be unkind, and that is tardiness.  I think that is why I married Amanda.  I have come to appreciate more fully the need for promptness, preparedness, and arriving early.  Many says it teaches us patience.  I find my patience wearing thin more and more when I know there is very little or no valid reason for being late other than somebody procrastinated getting ready.  I think nearly daily about President Kimball’s comments, “One of the most serious human defects in all ages is procrastination, an unwillingness to accept personal responsibilities now.”
The bulk of the day is found at work.  Then there is the time to go home.  Evenings are usually not just our own though.  Amanda does have much of her evenings home, but being in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency pulls me often to different locations.  Every evening is usually taken by the little required activities of eating, preparing for bed, reading and responding to mail (email too), writing bills, and planning for the next day or something else.  It just seems like there isn’t enough time in the day for what needs to be done.
It seems if I were to spend more of my time doing what I wanted then I would get more done.  I would certainly know more and be learning more.  That is not to say I don’t learn from those I help.  I saw a map of the human genome this morning.  How is that for interesting?  I witnessed two other ways in which I would certainly never design a home.  I learned a few more details about Brother Pyron’s life and about a shooting at a school in Grundy, Virginia.  I met a man who moved into the ward from Mobile, Alabama with his wife for a residency.  Really, while it is all interesting, and applicable lessons are available in my own life I yearn to be learning something more.  Perhaps it is the fact this is all too close to home.  It is another life of the same life I am living.  Perhaps I yearn to be learning and living in the life of another time and another person.  I just think I really want to be learning something more than the activities and daily lives.
There is some rambling of thoughts here.  Part of the constant debate I feel.  Really, history and everything we know is because of the life of someone else.  I love and enjoy learning of those around me but perhaps want to connect with something outside my culture or time.  This morning I read of Nephi and really felt like I understood his sentiments when he wrote, “Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord-  Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren.  But behold, I am consigned that these are my days, and that my soul shall be filled with sorrow because of this the wickedness of my brethren.”
Often the thought crosses the mind, “if I could have lived in the days of Brigham, I would have more time to follow more personal pursuits” or something along those lines.  “If I could have been raised in France to have less of a workweek so as to pursue other intellectual activities.”  There are many times I think how much I would have loved growing up in the Rome and going to watch the Senate and learning of far away places.  I wish I could have worked on a ship where I would have plenty of reading time as I traveled the world and met people all over the globe.  I think how fascinating it would be to dive into the archives of Rome, London, Moscow, Baghdad (what is left), and Paris.
Then it dawns on me how much more information we have available to us in our day and I am glad I was not confined to a bookless world, or a carless world, or a electricityless world, and on.  There is so much available to me and I certainly believe I seek out and gain much as it is in everyday life.  But there is so much more!  It is funny at times what dawns on me as a miracle.  When I place a dozen letters in the mail and am dazzled to think they will arrive all over this country the day after tomorrow.  I wonder often how much fun it would be to host Thomas Jefferson, Brigham Young, Constantine, or other individuals for a day.  Sometimes I sit in a room and look around at what would not have been present even 50 years ago.  What questions would Brother Jefferson ask upon appearing in my living room about what was not present in his day?  How would I answer his questions?  How would I walk him through the 181 years since his death to arrive at a particular object sitting in the room?  What would he think?  Would he be astounded?  Would he comment, “Who would have thought” or “That makes sense, why didn’t we come that that?”  What would he see in my life as useless or meaningless?  I hope that we have maintained a lifestyle that is for the most part Spartan.  Just the basics for what we need in our earthly journey.  Truly, our lives are surrounded by objects that are miracles in their history and they are every day.
I hope I am showing to some degree what there is to know and learn.  The history of places, the history of possessions, the history of people, the progression of societies, and much, much more.  Perhaps I have a disconnect in the run of the mill people to those few who seem to alter the future of societies and civilizations.  Not that they are greater, or run of the mill is lesser, but that I have enough experience with the every day that I want to get beyond it all.  So many conversations, so many thoughts, so many activities just seem to be in place in order to bide the time and endure.  I seek out the activities and people who are not just enduring life, but trying to do something with it.
That really takes us to the next part of the struggle.  I do believe I have learned quite a bit and come to an understanding of many things which are not common knowledge.  But what am I to do with it.  Knowledge is very lonely stuff.  Some people it seems to puff up and make them become showoffs.  Nobody likes a showoff and it undermines what it is they really know.  Generally, many people don’t seem to care about the details of life.  How do you maintain the relevance of life when you live in more and more in a world that doesn’t exist to other people?  I believe I have come to understand and know a few things about the interactions and play of the US Senate from about 1900 to about the 1950’s.  Who in the world will I ever have a discussion with about that?  Very few people indeed!  Who will I talk to about England and what readings I have been doing?  Who will I chat with about Manchester and the mission?  Who will I talk to about Idaho history here?  How many Idahoan’s can I talk to about Idaho history?
It really is amazing how much the church plays a role in all this.  With all the separation and divisions knowledge provides, especially the more as a society we do learn, the gospel provides an amazing link to others.  It links us and connects us on the most basic and fundamental level.  Then we can build from there.
Then we come back to the needs of others.  It seems to me we can’t really pursue our wants until we have met the needs of others.  I suppose children and a larger family would compound this question many times.  I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there.
I think often of the comment about President Kimball at his funeral.  How his life was like an old shoe, worn out in the service of others.  Did he spend much time pursuing his own wants.  I am sure glad reading the scriptures and serving in the church are commandments.  That takes them from the realm of needs and wants to must do.
There really doesn’t seem to be an answer before me.  I guess we all need to answer it for ourselves.

Clarification on security, freedom, and comfort

In the first e-mails, I am more building off of common ground.  He pretty much told me his whole desire is to be a billionaire by the time he is 40.  He gave me as the reason for doing so is that he could have independence and security.  Building off of that theme, I gave the following paragraph.  I completely agree with your statements that that is not our whole purpose.  I hope I defined that more clearly in some of the other e-mails that came later, if not in the same one.

“I do not laugh at your hope of retiring early.  I believe it is a noble thing to have prepared so you can spend your live doing something more productive than the pursuit of money.  I completely agree with you on this point.  I hope to be financially independent so I can turn my focus onto other things, more important things.  I see nothing wrong with this desire.  I am sorry if other people find it foolish.”

I certainly think you should do your job with full faithfulness and not just with the end to get money.  You should enjoy your job and find its meaning and opportunity for you.  I completely agree that it is more than just supporting the family.

“There are a couple of thoughts I will throw at you.  I am not to elude that you are caught in these thought patterns, but a caution in case you may have forgotten.  You referenced financial freedom and security.  I am not personally aware of any promises in the gospel that we will be given security or a large degree of freedom.  Agency, yes; the ability to act, definitely; but beware of the thought process that at some point you will have reached a point to where you are excluded from pain, sorrow, or suffering. “

You quoted D&C 70 in relation to this comment.  The Lord there promises us blessings and great blessings.  But I do not read that these promises are necessarily for temporal blessings and temporal security.  Remember, this is one of the reasons why the Saints were so terribly upset in Kirtland and in Jackson.  The Kirtland anti-Banking Society was established and many people fully thought the Lord was going to make them rich.  After all, they were in the process of gathering and of building Zion (literally) and that led to their downfall.  In Jackson the Saints were sure that they would be protected temporally because of some of these commandments.  Well, we know what happened there as well.

To me, when the Lord promises comfort, security, blessings, and freedom, these are all first and foremost spiritually and in the conscious.  I do believe they lead to the physical.  That is one of the messages I get from the New Testament is that Saints will be able to call anyplace, even the pits of hell, home and make it a Zion.  Wherever the Saints are, there cannot be hell.  Remember the Lectures of Faith, those who have a certain knowledge can take spoiling of the goods and even the taking of their lives with joy and a certain knowledge that they have a future and know their place in eternity.  If I remember right, I don’t have the book yet, but the quote of idolatry by President Kimball includes the comforts of family, cars, and houses. 

I guess is what I am saying, Saints were had in Kirtland and Missouri even though they were in hell.  They had comfort and freedom and independence and security despite what they were going through physically.  Many counted it a blessing to come across the plains, even the quote from the old man in the Martin Handcart Company, that it was the place they came to know God and would not trade it for anything.

It seems to me a twist of the scriptures to believe we are promised physical security and freedom.

Your quotes from the Book of Mormon go along with what I have already talked about.  Free forever, certainly is more than this mortal probation (2 Ne 2:26).  The Lord promised the Israelites freedom in Egypt, but they still had to sit there for 400 years.  (I wonder how many lost their faith because they were not given their freedom in their lifetimes?)  Out of darkness into the light, out of captivity to freedom (2 Ne 3:5) seems to be speaking the same.  Under no other head are you made free (Mosiah 5:8) I view death and a resurrection as a freedom from the fallen world too.  Moroni’s inspiration to be freed from bondage (Alma 43:48) is still very much on the Lord’s timetable.  Wandering in the wilderness for 40 years is certainly freedom considered under what they had left with Pharaoh, but still it was very taxing, and they had no real comforts or even security.  They had serpents and all sorts else to worry about.  Hearing the Lord and following him will make us free (D&C 38:22) is very true, but what about all those Saints who wasted away with the same promise in eastern Germany and Soviet provinces.  Hundreds never saw freedom in their life according to what you are arguing here, but certainly did in the spiritual way.  Even Brigham Young has quotes where the strangling of the US government was diminishing the Saints freedoms.  His views were of the freedom of polygamy, and (don’t know if I would argue for it) we still don’t have the complete freedom of our religion in this country. 

As for the quote about the Constitution and our liberty to make us free.  That is one of the big things Joseph Smith taught.  Our constitution gave us the freedom of thought, to act as we please (despite its tightening under Brigham) and freedom of conscience.  You know this. 

If we are righteous, the promise is that we shall have our needs met.  Even that our cup will run over and with tithing that we cannot receive them all.  But that certainly never applied to riches as far as I have ever seen. My bank account certainly could receive more and I could too.  So it doesn’t have to do with money.  But in spiritual blessings, from which the physical manifests itself, I certainly believe we can be therewith content with what the Lord has allotted us.  Even if that is a prison cell in the freezing of winter in 1837 called Liberty.  Isn’t that what the Lord told Joseph and later.  Receive ALL things with thankfulness and you shall be made glorious (again, not necessarily physically).

“I know you are not saving up money to become rich.  It is your desire to be able to be more free to do things which are of more worth with your time to your family and for others.  I certainly think that is a worthwhile pursuit.  Just be careful not to be driven too much by money rather than your worthwhile pursuits. “

This was another building off the common ground concept.  Start at common ground, build off of it, and then you can help them see where you vary and then they are left with the choice.  Isn’t this much of the Socratic method.  But you have to start somewhere to where they can agree with you.

This was one of the main reasons why he wanted to gain riches.  I do think it is a noble thing for you to be able to do more with your family and time for the benefit of others.  I admit, no matter how much I like my job, I have to do it a certain amount and detract away from time that could be used with family, teaching, or even in service.  Honestly, you can love your job and want to spend all your time there, but in the end, whether you love your job or not is not going to get you into heavens quadrants.  Your family, your service and stewardship will count much more.

There are a score of great blessings that do come from work.  I don’t doubt that.  But I am sure you could learn many of those same ethics and work from other meaningful service too.  Our jobs are a required part of life.  Someone has to clean the sewers, someone has to move the trash, someone has to do crime scene investigating, someone has to be the mortician.  I certainly hope those people don’t hate their jobs.  I do believe, in the vein above, that you have to have that inside conviction, freedom, and security and the outside will change.  Hell will in fact become heaven.  If you hate your job, first you should probably change your heart and mind, then look again at the job and consider if a change needs to be made.

I completely agree with the Luke 3:14, 1 Tim 6:8, Heb 13:5 (what would that say if I didn’t agree?) that one should be content with wages, have godliness and contentment, and to avoid covetousness.  I am sorry if I led you to believe I supported these things.

Anyhow, I hope as you read later of the forwards, that I corrected or explained my position more fully.

This is a great little study for both of us.  We must be as wise as serpents but as harmless as doves.  We must think these things through, even we must plan financially but far too many people let it consume their lives.  I really liked your line, “…I can see how it will take over if you are not careful.  But now I know, I need to be wise, but not worry, be prepared, but not obsessed!”

Thanks again, I enjoy our little banters.

The offering of sacrifices

Being thankful seems to be a crux of most of the gospel.  One of the scriptures I gave you said that they who are thankful will be made glorious.  I certainly believe that is true.  As ole Terry McCombs likes to repeat, “to be thankful, you have to remember; remember, remember, remember!”

I like your train of thought on how to be thankful.  But I think you might be missing a very important part of sacrifices and burnt offerings.  Brad, I am a bit shocked you did not remember this.  After all, we had a string of e-mails last year discussing sacrifice.

“And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord.  And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.  And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?  And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me” (Moses 5:5-6).

Notice what comes before the offerings to the Lord, it is worshiping the Lord.  Your sacrifices are of no value without the prayers.  Just like fasting with out prayer is just starving you.  Tithing without the prayer is just putting your money in the coffer.  Offerings without prayer is just burning a piece of perfectly good meat!

Think of the temple.  When Adam is offering sacrifice before the Lord, if you notice there is something missing on the altar.  I think that is very telling.  It is certainly more than just trying to save those who could not stomach a piece of burning meat or produce from the garden.

“Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore” (Moses 5:8).

“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (1 Sam 15:22-23).

So thankfulness is manifest in sacrifice, but don’t forget the most important part of sacrifice.  The law of obedience comes first, then the law of sacrifice.  Obedience is that you are to do all things in the name of the Lord.

“But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faith; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate they performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul” (2 Ne 32:9).

This thing seemed so obvious to Nephi that he grieved that the people were missing it.

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.  But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb 13:15-16).

“And it came to pass that we did come down unto the tent of our father.  And after I and my brethren and all the house of Ishmael had come down unto the tent of my father, they did give thanks unto the Lord their God; and they did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto him” (1 Ne 7:22).

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord; but the prayer of the upright is his delight” (Prov 15:8).

Why do we offer prayers?  It is so that our heart might be contrite.  That is our sacrifice after the obedience.  First our heart, then comes the rest.  Our will, our ego, our all, then comes the physical.

“And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Ne 9:20).

“Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (D&C 59:8).

So, there is some more backing on what goes into sacrifices.  Before the sacrifices of meat, or any other type whatsoever (fasting or tithing) it should be preceded by prayer.  All things should be done by prayer.

These sacrifices enable us to come unto the Father, the activate more fully the atonement in our lives, to allow the Spirit a stronger influence, and the whole host of blessings that follow.

As with your examples of David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Thomas B Marsh.  It is not enough to know, but to continually be seeking the Spirit.  One cannot rest on your laurels, or you will be left behind.  Then you will fight to regain your place and it will have been lost.  Whether eternally, or callings within the present.  Do not delay.  Be ever diligent in keeping the commandments every day.  The Spirit helps us see, understand, know as we are known, and not allow those blasted beams in our eyes to block our vision.

I would like to visit Thomas’ grave in Ogden.  We will have to make a trek.  I have some more of my own family to find.

Lastly, to comment on your thoughts in relation to Alma 4:19.  In bearing down in pure testimony, the only way is by the word of God.  First, to have the Spirit (prayer facilitates this greatly) and the advice of Alma, “And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just – yea, it had a more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them – wherefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God” (Alma 31:5).  Have the Spirit (which gives you the power of the word) and then use the written word.  It has a more powerful effect than anything else.

That is what President Wightman taught us very diligently.  That is what I try to do.  That is what you try to do.  Let us help others understand it.  We don’t want to be another slap on the back, feel happy church.  We believe in keeping the doctrine pure, and sometimes charity and love hurts, but is always for our best.