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.

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.

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.

Newport News

A few more updates for those faithful souls who still check up on me.
We just returned from a weekend in Newport News.  That is on the other side of Jamestown and Williamsburg from us.  We did not make a stop to those historic places, but hope someday in the future.
Amanda and I went out to go to church with a friend from her class.  She is a Southern Baptist and agreed to go to church with us if we would go to church with her.  So it was a deal.  We made the trek out to Newport News and spend Saturday night.  It was good to visit her home and get to know her in her own environment.  It was a little weird for me being the extra on hand, but I did okay.  Today we went to church with her.  Sunday School was about spiritual maturity.  Which I really liked, but it was like an hour on only three verses, and the guy was becoming a little redundant.  He did comment next weeks lesson was on Melchezidek and I sure did want to be there for that one.  The Bible is very lean on its teachings of that good man, and would like to see what type of whistling in the dark they would do there.  But we will not be around for that.  The main meeting was good, it was about greed.  The church made it very evident they are not meeting their budget financially.  But the talk was still very good coming from Luke 12.
Afterward, we made our way to the Denbigh ward of the Newport News Stake.  It is one of those 80’s buildings that are a bit darker with some strange designs inside.  Oh well.  We sat down and waited for Sacrament to start.  It was fast and testimony meeting, one of those meetings you came to dread and love as a missionary.  I wondered which one it was.  Well, it was one in which you had to spend considerable time with the investigator insisting we let anyone get up.  There were some powerful testimonies, and then there was the senile old lady.  One never knows what the Lord can do with adversity.  If he really wants Amanda’s friend, Jen, to come around to seeing the light, he is going to have to overcome the attending of the Denbigh Ward Sacrament Meeting.  Sunday School went pretty well.  It was from Isaiah and the teacher did a good job.  How prepared she was I do not know as she just seemed to go through the lesson without much insight.  Even the parallels which were to be drawn, or the segue between scriptures was not present.  But, I have to admit, the spirit was present and that is what is most important.  Sacrament we just squeamed for some of the talks.  Saying all that, there was a Brother Saxton who spoke directly to Jen.  Hopefully that makes all the difference.  I had a good relaxing time in Priesthood just reading the manual in class on Redeeming the Dead from Brother Wilford.  I hear that Relief Society was about the need for Living Prophets, which seems perfect for the situation and the students.  Perhaps it will have the needed influence.  Miss Jen took all types of notes in Sunday School.  I hope these things bring up questions for her that she will realize typical Christianity cannot answer.  Afterward eating dinner, she asked what happens when we die.  It was hard to tell someone who does not believe in angels, who does not believe in a Spirit World, and who believes you go directly the presence of God (What is the point of a body and resurrection if we can go directly to God?)  Anyhow, I enjoyed the Baptist Church.  Not sure I liked the worship service, the music definitely caters to emotion.  But I liked Sunday School, except for my short squatty chair that made my bottom hurt.
We came home and Amanda and I chatted.  Jen was asking what we considered election.  Amanda started explaining our definition of being born again when I realized we needed to chat about that some.  So all the way home we discussed the doctrine of election, calling and election made sure, the more sure word of prophesy, and more of those eternal, deep, mysteries of the kingdom.  It was a good chat.  I think she realized there was a whole other side to the gospel she had not even considered.  When we got home and we talked about the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, I think she about fell off her chair.  She insisted nobody knows about these things.  I told her as far as I knew, most missionaries did.  I think she was surprised when I showed her a few of the many scriptures that talk about these things.  Even a few in the old testament seem so vague, but taken in this light are very enlightening.
Anyhow, it was a good Sabbath Day.  If nothing else, we have come to appreciate another religion a little more.  They are good people.  We also came to realize all is not well in Zion and every ward has things they can work on.
I thought I might share a little bit from Friday night.  Amanda and I went to a company party at the Holiday Inn down Staples Mill from us.  We went in and the first person I ran into was Neil who was very happy to see me.  He started boasting about how wonderful I was doing and what great things I was going to do.  I think he sensed I had lost some of my zeal for the company.  He asked if everything was okay.  I told him pretty clearly I did not think it was all coming up roses.  He was definitely shocked by my blow to him.  The meal was more hors oeuvres (whatever) and they gave us two tickets for drinks.  The bartender thought we were a bit weird in asking for orange juice and a sprite.  Oh well.  The music was loud, a guy who was selling me Quixtar besides us, and people trying to get us to dance.  I visited with Nicole, a girl I graduated sales school with in Raleigh.  She is in the same boat I am in right now as well.  I heard that she is doing really well from Neil.  Well, things were not as peachy coming from her.  I am glad I am not the only one who struggles here.  Andy is gone.  Monica is gone.  David is gone.  Larry is gone.  I am one of the last few.  I was actually surprised Nicole made it this far.
I went to do my check in with Ted and I caught him and Neil talking in the hall about me.  They asked for my concerns and I unloaded them.  Then Neil started to tell me I just needed to take responsibility.  Somehow I thought working in the field for two months was a certain taking of responsibility.  Especially where I have done so without training.  But now it was my responsibility to do more?  Oh well.  I did my check in and Marc gave me my route for the upcoming week.  He was oblivious to the discussions and concerns I had shared with Ted and Neil.  Who knows what tomorrow morning shall bring for me?  Will they try and train me on everything in the morning?  Will Marc be upset with me because I did not tell him?  (I honestly tried, but he just ignores me and goes on talking about whatever he wants me to do)  Will I end up walking out without starting the day.  I don’t know.  We will just have to see what comes out tomorrow.
Time for me to say good night.  I think I may send out another resume or two before I crash tonight.

Oh the Greatness of God

Well, we are about at the ending of another week.  Nevertheless, I am still feeling the influence of the last weekend.  How wonderful it is to have prophets upon the earth.  What a wonderous day we live in.  We are blessed so exceedingly!  We have prophets, apostles, and the priesthood.  I guess it is more the other way around, we have the priesthood, which gives us prophets, apostles, and all the church.  Everything is governed under the authority and power of the Father and Son.  What a wonderful and magnificent thing it is to behold.
This weekend I had the privilege of standing in on a blessing.  It was great, what an honour.  Even better, we have the capacity and capability of doing these things.  I stood in on a baby blessing a few weeks ago.  How wonderful.  I sat in General Conference in the presence of the Lord’s called Apostles and Prophets.  Again, I saw our dearly beloved prophet stand up, waddle to the stand, and speak.  My heart swells with joy and gratitude.  We can hear the Lord’s direction for us, for me, for you, for us individually.  How unique and personal that makes the Atonement, the Church, and God.
In reading the scriptures, I find myself ever shaking my head.  Can we be wiser?  Can we learn from the teachings and mistakes?  We are finishing 2 Samuel tomorrow night.  We have read of Saul, and David, and Absalom, and even Samuel.  Each were amazing men, but made some horrible mistakes.  Even Samuel’s own children would not follow the Lord.  We finished Mosiah last night in the Book of Mormon.  There are some individuals who turned to the Lord, the sons of Alma and Mosiah.  Mosiah instructed the people about proper government and how to do things.  I find it amazing that people say what is the proper way of government, even in the church, yet they obviously know not the scriptures.  I hold the Book of Mormon of being of great worth in bringing much light and truth to our generation.  It is the applicator of the Bible.  I would declare that without reading and being familiar with the Old and New Testament, you will not understand the full import and value of the Book of Mormon.  Without the Bible and Book of Mormon, one will not understand the Doctrine and Covenants.  So many tell me that the law of consecration is vague and not clear.  I say to those people read Deuteronomy and the Doctrine and Covenants again.  If they can say that then, they have not understood what they read.  It is so stark and clear!  Without prophets and apostles, we would not have the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants.  Even then, I fear most of the Christian world do not know their own Bible.  If they do, they do not believe it or live its teachings.
Prayer is such an amazing thing.  My experiences are so valued to me.  I would not trade them for anything.  But for people who tell me I do not know these things are true, I say they have not experienced prayer.  They know not heaven or how to communicate with it (or don’t wish to).  Our blessings are amazing.  The counsel comes to us as the dews from heaven.  They descend, and some allow them to run on by, others lap them up and hold tightly to what falls upon our heads.  We don’t have the option, they are coming.  What will we do with them?
Well, I close for now.  I love you, I know the church is true!