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.

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.

One more question…

As I was reading through this e-mail I could not help but think, “Man, I sure do a lot of counseling!”  My next though, “Am I really such a prideful know it all to presume to know all things?”  I sure hope I don’t come off as prideful and arrogant in the things I write and say Brad.  If I do, I am sorry.  I don’t think I do.  If you forwarded my thoughts on to the niece of Uncle, she must think I am an arrogant, prideful fool to say such things without knowing Uncle.

You asked what if people are not humble and accept the truth.  The first scripture that comes to mind, “And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts:” (D&C 29:7).  “And a commandment I give unto thee – that thou shalt write for him; and the scriptures shall be given, even as they are in mine own bosom, to the salvation of mine own elect: for they will hear my voice, and shall see me, and shall not be asleep, and shall abide the day of my coming; for they shall be purified, even as I am pure” (D&C 35:20-21).

It is our job to be messengers.  It is up to them to be not asleep and seeking.  They will recognize the Spirit when it comes upon them.  “And even so will I gather mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, even as many as will believe in me, and hearken unto my voice” (D&C 33:6).  “And even so will I cause the wicked to be kept, that will not hear my voice but harden their hearts, and wo, wo, wo, is their doom” (D&C 38:6).  The Lord makes it clear.  We are to be instruments I his hands and carry his Spirit to others, but what happens on the other side has little or nothing to do with us.  We can be prompted to plant a seed, to testify, but the rest happens in the heart and mind of that person.  “And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them” (Ezek 2:5).  “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice of by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).  “…but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.  And he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:30-31).

I wanted to correct one point you made in reference to Adam and Eve.  The man does represent the Lord has husband and father.  He must act in faithfulness and righteousness, otherwise he is not to be respected or obeyed (all according to the Spirit, not personal whims).  The Lord’s way has always been in counseling and working through that means.  All husbands have much to learn from this pattern.  Even the revelations which came to us appear to be very dictatorial of the Lord, but not if you understand under what circumstances they came.  Joseph always sought the answer, counseled with friends, sought the answer and then petitioned the Lord.  Sometimes the Lord answered, other times he did not.  We do not ever see the example of a dictating God, nor should any husband thing that his wife’s obedience should come from his own dictates.  Love, persuasion, and loving kindness are the keys.  We have our ultimate exemplar in Christ.

Just because Eve partook of the fruit first does not mean she was demoted in any fashion whatsoever.  Adam was made Lord over the whole earth and Eve the mother of all living.  Lord did not mean the ruling tyrant who ruled with blood and horror.  But the good Lord, one who watched over, protected, and prepared for the well being and felicity of those under his stewardship.  He was our physical facilities maintenance and overseer.  Even on the other hand was the nurturer, the one who keeps things operating smoothly.  These seem like very noble roles, for both of them to me.  Where do we ever get the idea that being the mother of all is something less.  Like the kingdom would be of any value without its occupants, human, animal, or plant kingdoms.  Wives are for much more than just having children.  She is a helpmeet in meeting the needs of the entire kingdom.  Not just in expanding the kingdom, but in helping the already existing kingdom.  These feminists which are in our midst are so very short sighted and narrow in their views. 

One last thought in regards to the temple from your e-mail.  I don’t know where the notion that we go to the temple for revelation comes up.  I have not researched this one in the scriptures as much, but it seems to have some problems.  Why isn’t there a room in the temple where you can write down your thoughts?  Why can’t you really even take anything with you into the temple?  That is not the purpose of the temple.  It is the Lord’s house.  We are invited to come there as often as we would like and to participate in the work.  We are guests there.  First, we go there for ourselves.  Then we take others with us every time we return.  Also important is that this is the Lord’s house.  He is our exemplar and the one to who we are to look for everything.  It is not enough for us to follow his example, but we need to make his surroundings as his are.  We are taught there the true order of heaven.  We are taught how to receive inspiration.  We are taught how to pray.  We are taught the proper order of houses of God, of families, and how to put them in order.  Should not we take these things away?  Should not we follow the example and do the same with our lives?  Should not our homes have a sanctuary of sorts, a holy of holies, for receiving inspiration?  It is to teach us how to be godly and how to organize our homes.  You don’t go to your neighbors to speak with them and learn of their ways, to go into one of their side rooms to take notes.  How absurd is that?  Go home, and do in your own home what is good and right.  You hit it right on the head.  The temple classroom should be happening at home with the scriptures.  Our homes should be temples away from the temple.

Sermon on a stick

A little thought about what you said.  There is a talk by Elder Eyring I have always thought about but I am too lazy to find it right now.  He makes the comment that his Dad taught him that when you meet someone, presume the are in trouble and have problems.  If you do that, more than 50% of the time you will be right.  I think that is true in life, and more particularly with religion.  Even members of the church!

I believe it was President Kimball that said that while the mission of the church was broken down (he had recently broken the mission of the church into the current three fold mission of proclaiming, perfecting, and redeeming), they were still essentially the same thing, that of missionary work.

You made the comment about showing afterward an increase of love.  I completely agree.  But I think many people interpret that is the touchy feely aspect.  Don’t forget, we will warn sharply and directly if it is true love.  The more serious the nature of the offense, the more direct and clear my parents were on setting me on the proper course.  Faithlessness is not to be tolerated.  This is so much more the case when they are demeaning the case.  An endowed member can be excommunicated for such action.  While it seems harsh, that is entirely for the good of the person.  By removing them from the covenant, it removes some of the punishment and provides them an opportunity to start afresh.  Excommunication is out of love and only for that purpose.  It is so sad that some wards used to ostracize members when they were excommunicated.  That was not the purpose.  It is part of the repentance process.  Brad, obedience to the Spirit to be direct and what you perceive as harsh is a sign of love.  But you are to back it up with confidence and up building after you have had to do a royal stripping.  Love and charity is cleaning up the old wreck of a home, gutting everything that is worthless, and then doing the rebuilding.  There is no sympathy is kicking out the rodents and ripping out the useless garbage and burning it on the pile.  But then can the beautiful parts of the work begin.  We can tear down and gut, but it is then our job to rebuild.  It is not enough to break a leg so it can heal properly, but to set it and help it heal.  Do you see my point?  Some things do need gentle coaxing to correct.  Some things need a good slam to help them.  You grew up with cows.  You know well my point.  You don’t use the shocker if you don’t have to.

Your comments on D&C 112 were most fascinating.  Thanks for pointing out the scripture on tribulation what would come upon the twelve.  Even they were warned it was coming.  Do you remember that as a missionary?  I remember sometimes I even warned investigators and new converts to expect difficulty to come.  They would be tried.  

The scripture…

Just a few thoughts in regard to this e-mail. 

Remember the responsibilities of an Elder.  “An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize; and to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons; and to administer bread and wine – the emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ – and to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures; and to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church; and to confirm the church by the laying on of the hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost; and to take the lead of all meetings” (D&C 20:38-44).  This obviously extends beyond that of the family.  Their duties are expounded further as the section continues, but are to be aided or expressly done by the lesser priesthoods if they are present.  If not, the elders do them as well.  This revelation was given before the wards and stakes were organized.  It is my understanding that our elder responsibilities exist only in our ward.  So, to individuals within our ward, we have the responsibilities given to us above.  Of course we don’t take it upon ourselves, but we are assigned to these responsibilities, particularly through home teaching.  Accordingly, we must be set apart for special occurrences outside the ward.  Just like stake leaders have to be set apart for the stake level.  But an elder is not set apart for their home teaching responsibilities.  Assigned, but not set apart.  As missionaries we had to be set apart as a missionary to have the revelation and privileges necessary to be a missionary.  I have always found it interesting that our stake president sets us apart rather than the mission president.  I don’t have an answer for that one yet though.

So according to my understanding of the Melchizedek Priesthood, we are responsible specifically for our families and those we are assigned over.  But in general you are privileged to exercise those powers for members within your ward without a special dispensation from the heavens. 

Now as related to extended family, I do not believe you can receive revelation for them.  Nor will you be responsible for them.  However, you can still teach the gospel in its pure form and answer their questions accordingly.  You cannot counsel them individually or according to revelation, but you can according to your inspiration and understanding of the word of God.

Be careful comparing yourself to these individuals who you are comparing yourself to in Jacob 1:19.  They were to high priests over the whole church.  Of course they were responsible for them all.  But you are not.  They would answer for all their sins.  Just like President Hinckley is accountable for the entire world!  To teach them according to the word of God and with all diligence.  But we are home teachers and our stewardship is more limited compared to President of the church.

As for what is appropriate to teach.  I think that is one of the reasons why the Lord gives the commandment that we are to speak nothing more than repentance and to teach the word of God.  Even missionaries have very limited roles in which they can receive revelation.  They are given just enough to find the humble, to lead them to the waters of baptism, and that is it.  We cannot receive revelation on much more for our investigators.  After all, that is the Bishop’s role.  Don’t forget he is over member and non-member.  We are there to aid the responsibility of the elders already in that ward and stake.  We are not in charge of it.  The mission president meets with and counsels with the Stake Presidents concerning the work.  Only where there are districts and branches is the mission president over the work.

As concerning milk and meat.  You can give what he asks, and only according to scripture.  But you know that your job is first and foremost to teach faith and repentance.  Our key is in D&C 19, “and thou shalt declare glad tidings, yea, publish it upon the mountains, and upon every high place, and among every people that thou shalt be permitted to see.  And thou shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers.  And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea even the Holy Ghost.  Behold this is a great and the last commandment which I shall give unto you concerning this matter; for this shall suffice for thy daily walk, even unto the end of thy life” (verses 29-32).  It seems very direct that this pattern is for preaching the gospel, and is enough for our daily walk to the end of our lives.  We can chat about these things, but are to keep it according to the scriptures, and not more.  Perhaps too many of us are talking about deeper things when we are not exhorting faith and repentance enough.  Like President Cherrington always used to tell us, “gospel curiosity will not save us, but living the gospel.”

78

I was reading in section 78 tonight and thought I would share some of what I thought with you.

“Behold, this is the preparation wherewith I prepare you, and the foundation wherewith I prepare you, and the ensample which I give unto you, whereby you may accomplish the commandments which are given you; That through my providence, notwithstanding the tribulation which shall descend upon you, that the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world” (D&C 78:13-14).

This scripture was given in relation to the commandment that the leading bodies of the church sit in council with the church.  That they be not turned away by Satan.  I don’t know if it is meant to be the church or the leaders, I suppose it would be both.  It is then through that counseling that they are to make a covenant which is not to be broken.  The covenant of brotherhood and fellowship is to be that bond.

The Lord makes it clear that this sitting in counsel and the bond made is the preparation and the foundation for keeping the commandments.  What is more, it is to help us stand strong and independent, even amidst tribulation.  What a fascinating idea!  That we cannot stand alone, but have to stand as a collective body, and then by standing together, we stand independent.  What a twisted fashion the world plays on the Lord’s way. 

Accordingly, if we are weak and not feeling independent, we may instantly know our issue.  We are not sitting in council with the Saints (and the Lord’s Spirit who better be in those councils) and forming those bonds of fellowship.  That obviously applies in our families.  If our families are failing, we are not meeting in council and forming that bond.  Then that extends to the church and on outward.

Then the interesting counsel from the Lord, “ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you; and ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along.  The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours” (D&C 78:17-18). 

It is almost like he is saying, “trust me and do these things and oh, then have I got some goodies for you!”  But the kicker comes in, or even the catch; “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19).

So the key to it all, that which really makes this process work is the thankfulness.  You can be as friendly and fellowshipping as you want.  You can be as covenanting and bonding one to another as you want.  But to make it of really much value, you have to be grateful. 

As for Uncle, he probably has his rewards awaiting him.  But to be glorious, which I hope is our desire, celestial in fact; we have to be thankful. 

Or the sad corollary, “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things (thankful and grateful), and obey not his commandments” (D&C 59:21).

Tribulations contemplated….

An excerpt of an e-mail with friends about tribulation and the different ways people deal with it.

After thinking about excommunicated Bishop Young, your Steve, and Uncle (that is what I will call him, your friend’s uncle) this is what I have come up with.  I think I hinted at some of it.

“And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father.  And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them” (1 Ne 2:12).

People murmur because they know not God.

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings:” (Philip 2:14).

“And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; belessed be the name of the Lord.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:21-22).

The Lord gives, and he takes away.  Nowhere am I aware that the promise is given that our family will not wander.  It is not given that they have not their agency or the natural course of events don’t take place.  All people get sick, all have sufferings, all have difficulties; no matter how faithful they are.  Look at Christ, look at Joseph Smith, look at Joseph of old, look at Job, and the list goes on.

So I have been thinking about this quite a bit, obviously as I e-mailed you about it.

“And when the people complained it displeased the Lord; and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp” (Num 11:1).

In reading the whole eleventh chapter of Numbers I think of these people I know.  They want meat, they want water, they want this, and they want that.  It just never is good enough for them.  Then when something goes wrong, they are the first ones to point a finger.  It doesn’t seem like it is God to me.  Seems like it is the person.  I mean, we are talking of Israel here, keeping the law of Moses here and very strict.  Even they in the midst of obedience seems to have something awry and still struggle.

I have come to personally believe that being righteous does not remove bad things from happening.  It in a sense takes you above the low, mean, and doggerel.  It gives the buena vista, the grand picture.  Bad things still happen.  Not that I am righteous by any means, but look at my life.  Look at my family.  Not that we are saints, but we are no more sinners than the rest, but we have our share of woes.  Don’t we all.  It is all how we view them.  Do we live by faith?

If we don’t know or understand the Lord’s way, then we complain and murmur.  It is just a given.  When we seek the Lord and his ways, then we live by the comforter, and knowing all will workout.  Peace innervates our lives.

This hit home tonight in reading the scriptures.  “His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand.  From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail.  For thus saith the Lord – I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.  Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.”

So, those who are faithful and serve God, they will have their reward, and will be filled with peace and light.  What is more is how the Lord continues.  “And to them shall I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.  Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.  And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.  For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will – yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man” (D&C 76:3-10).

I think that is easily applicable to Bishop Young, Brother Steve, and Uncle.  Those who are faithful and serve God (faithful and serve!) will be filled with peace and light.  They will know the mysteries, and I think that includes the mysteries of their family.  FOR MANY GENERATIONS, their wisdom shall be great.

Remember, those who know the dealings of that God who created them will not murmur.  So, if they were living the above, not only would they know concerning their family, but they would know the mysteries of God and not be murmuring and complaining to begin with.  Their family’s apostasy/inadequacies would be viewed in the proper perspective.

What is more, don’t forget this promise, “Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance” (Alma 26:22).

It seems to me that if we are faithful, repenting, and praying continually without ceasing, our family would not go astray.  However, if they did, we would have the mysteries revealed unto us, at least that all would be well and we are doing what we can.

Divorces take two, so it may not have been his fault he was divorced.  It may not have been his fault that his children divorced.  But if he really had a burning testimony, his covenants would have kept him from leaving the church.  Perhaps this was his trial to test his faith.  “Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son” (D&C 101:4).  It seems Uncle lost his chastening and trying, for when he came to offer up his family on the altar, he fell away into forbidden paths and was lost.

I am surprised how many people seem to be outwardly doing what they are supposed to, but then don’t do the basics.  Like the whole praying and scripture study.  “They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble” (D&C 101:7).

Your friend recited off his accomplishments like they were credits to be raked in for the redemption when needed.  That is not the way it works.  It is what we become, not what we have done.  The Lord tests us when we have nothing to rest on.  The church exacerbated the problems, that shows he and her family were not viewing this with an eye to faith.  Doesn’t matter which church for that matter.  “Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men” (D&C 3:3).  He seems a little frustrated in his work, who was he working for?  If he was working for God, he obviously wasn’t in constant communication otherwise he would have known for what purpose, or that this was the Lord’s purpose.  How narrow sighted to blame the loss of his own eternity on the church or his family.  The Lord giveth and he taketh away.  The promise is that we may have these things in eternity, I know nowhere the promise is that we have the promise to keep them while in this life.  “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matt 19:29).  We have to be willing to give them all up at any time.

So, now that I have thoroughly torn the person apart, what does an outsider say?  Well this seems the given of missionary work.  What do we say to anyone anywhere?  “And thou shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers.  And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost” (D&C 19:30-31).  “And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father.  Amen” (D&C 15:6).

Why is it that we feel we have to convince people of the truth?  Why do we feel we need to coax people into repentance?  Isn’t that the Spirit’s job?  Aren’t we to work by the patterns of the spirit?  Just tell it like it is?  He needs to repent and come back to the Savior.  Back to the Lord’s supper table, the Sacrament.  He needs to return and keep the covenants he made, or make them.  He needs to believe the gospel and walk in its light.  Who cares if his wife and family go to hell.  That is their choice.  We can only do so much.  We can warn them and carry the spirit to them as well.  That is between the Lord and them.

“Verily, I say unto you that ye are chosen out of the world to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump.  Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom” (D&C 29:4-5).  We are to raise our voice and declare it.  How many missionaries ruined a convert by trying to convince them?  Get the Spirit to manifest to them, then you have got something.  Then the fun things happen.  “If it be some other way it is not of God”

Anyhow, it seems obvious what it is we must do.  Live and continue to be examples of the Savior.  That is it.  The issue is on his side.  The church, the prophets, the scriptures, the word (Spirit, revelation, even Christ) have been neglected in these individual’s lives.  “And all they who receive the oracles (this is more than just a person, it is the instruments, the wisdom, the whole apparatus of the church) of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house (and the family in the house)” (D&C 90:5).

Let our friends be our lesson.  Let us learn from their example.  Let us do what they have not done, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness, shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19).

“Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering out of the hands of their enemies (which he has promised to some extent); softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.  And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him” (Hel 12:2-3).

Not so much that the difficulties don’t come and go, but more our recognition of their passing.  Are we Teflon individuals spiritually, or do they increase and increase our drag until we fall to the earth from our lofty spheres of flying with angels?  The rugged terrain is always there, just how we endure it.

So what must we all do?  Live the gospel.  Read daily.  Pray morning, noon, and night.  Attend our church meetings.  Keep the Sabbath.  Maintain and keep the Spirit.

The old cry comes up incessantly, “it is so hard to do!”  Well, as long as we are that weak in faith, that is how long we will continue with the struggles and not have the mysteries continually lain before our eyes.  It is our decision.

One last thought that just popped in.  Uncle needs to be careful that he is doing his part with the Lord, and not just leaving the rest to family, friends, and ward members.  Perhaps part of the problem is he left the Lord out too much in his dealings.  “So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; and enquired not of the Lord; therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse” (1 Chr 10:13-14).

We must be careful we do not do the same thing.  We can discuss this all the day long, but we must make sure we are keeping the word of the Lord, and seeking our counsel first to the Lord.  Then to our friends.  This applies to us, and to Uncle.

Good night.