Witness of the book

Perhaps I may be a little crazy.  I believe we fully and completely are enabled to witness miracles in our day.  Just like the days of old, it seems the miracles are probably all around us.  I always take the scriptures to mean that if we are in tune it isn’t that more miracles will happen to us (although faith may lead us to ask for more and receive more) but that we will more more recognizing of the miracles about us.  Hence, the great crime in seeking signs.  There are those always looking for signs to confirm or denounce their course of action.  Those people are like the waves of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed.  But those who live by faith will not be seeking for signs, but will recognize them all about them.  We have one such miracle happening nearly every day around us.
“And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth.” (2 Nephi 27:11).
I just never got this verse until my latest reading.  Even then, I may not still get it.  However, how in the world does the most vile of sinners read this book by the power of Christ?  Now, those who are familiar with it know this scripture is talking about the Book of Mormon.  The whole chapter and some previous talk about the coming of the Book of Mormon coming forth.  Viola!  The whole miracle of the book coming forth is by the power of Christ.  There is no other way this book could possibly exist except by the power of Christ.
Every day, wherever a page of the Book of Mormon is read, even when a Book of Mormon is trashed, it is by the power of Christ.  The mere existance of the book is a testimony of Christ working in our day.  It is not that the book will be read through the power of Christ like I had always thought, but it will be read, dropped, burned, ripped, coveted, loved, cherished, and hated all by the power of Christ.  Everything that happens to it is by the power of Christ which made it available to us.
It goes on more.  It will be through the power of Christ that all things are revealed.  It isn’t necessarily by a prophet, capital P or not.  It isn’t necessarily through the Priesthood, the church, or even the kingdom of God.  Just the fact that knowledge, history, wisdom, and all these things are flooding the earth is a continuing testament of the Son of God.
The next verse goes back to the Book of Mormon.
“Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witness shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein. And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his owrd unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.” (2 Nephi 27:12-13).
This is jumping back to references in Isaiah.  The book should whisper from the dust and the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.  What a strange and interesting idea.  I haven’t a clue what it all means.
What we do know is there are witnesses to the book who are faithful.  I always wondered why there were not more recent witnesses to the plates.  There was a time when I prayed to become a witness to the plates and the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.  However, it seems these witnesses are to speak as if it were from the dead.  It takes faith to believe the testimony of a deceased person.  Just like Lazarus wanting to go back from the dead to warn his brothers.  If they won’t believe Moses or Joseph Smith, why would they believe a modern or living individual.  It doesn’t seem as necessary.  As I say that, I have no doubt there are those who have received such a witness in our day, but they are not called upon to bear that witness.  Just like Mary Whitmer, or Vilate Kimball, they receive witnesses for their own testimony but not to share with the world at large.
I may show some ignorance of church history, beyond their testimony written in ink, the extent to which the three or eight witnesses were called to bear that testimony also seems limited.  Martin Harris and Joseph Smith seem to be the only ones who went out of their way to share the testimony with others.  Many of them served as missionaries, some went on to convert some very notable names in the church, but I am not aware of them going out of their way beyond being questioned about their witness of the Book of Mormon.
Many receive the witness of the Book of Mormon but how many actually receive the vision, hefting, dream of the plates?  I don’t know?  Does it matter?  After all, the testimony of the Spirit is all that is important.
Then again, do we really need to see the plates.  If we have the Spirit of God, we will recognize the miracle of the cheap missionary handout version sitting in the glove compartment of the car.  If we have the Spirit of God, we will already have a witness of the Book of Mormon, whether or not we have a witness of the plates upon which they rested.

TV’s and such

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

Addressing Gettysburg

As the title seems to denote, there has been a visit to Gettysburg.  It turned out to be a good experience and things really cannot have gone better.  There are a couple of pictures added to the Virginia Living Album.  As usual, I don’t know if you can take a good picture of me.  Well, at least as long as the sun seems to be attempting to burn your eyes out of your head.  I take on a scary brow which raises the cheeks and I don’t think I resemble myself or a really a human for that matter.  Enjoy the pictures of the scenery and a beautiful wife.
We met with Matt and Sarah Harris over dinner on Friday to plan our trip.  We were to meet at their house at 6:15 AM and we would begin the drive to Pennsylvania.  Sarah and Amanda decided they would listen to Harry Potter all the way up and back.  I instantly knew my ears would be hurting and I would be sleeping on the way up.  Amanda and Sarah did the driving duty up.  Matt and I passed out in the backseat and did not wake much until we passed into Pennsylvania hours later.
We drove to the visitors center and got a bit of a grasp of what was happening for the day.  We walked to the Cyclorama and watched two films.  Once definitely with the flowery language of the 60′s with the grainy picture to match.  The second film was a History Channel special that was much more up to date and easier to pay attention to.
We wound our way to the back patio of the Cyclorama and caught a tour of Cemetery Ridge.  It was interesting to have a park ranger give the history lesson.  We walked clear out to the Copse of Trees and the Angle and listend to what took place there.  It really was a tragic story on the part of the Confederates.  Everything that could go wrong did that day.  It was interesting to listen to Matt afterwards and how he was taught at BYU the Union was meant to win and heaven’s power was on their side.  I am not so sure if I agree with that especially since my understanding of history is that the Saints were praying for the South more than they were for the North.  Funny our take on history now paints that the North was the one we were praying for.  Times change right and so does our interpretation of history.
Perhaps I should qualify that statement.  Not stepping into the racism issue but purely from a Constitutional standpoint.  If a group of people wanted to live their life their own way, especially according to the dictates of their religion it should be granted to them.  The Saints had fled the country and wholeheartedly believed it was their choice to leave their country in order to openly practice their religion.  They were against slavery, despite what others might say against the church for the race issue, as Joseph Smith proved by making it a core tenet of his running for the Presidency.
Anyhow, back on the subject.  We enjoyed the tour of Cemetery Ridge and also enjoyed a ranger giving us history at Little Round Top.  We went and visited all the large monuments the various states have put up.  You can see the pictures of the largest ones that we visited.  A couple of them like Pennsylvania are huge compared to others.
On a side note as we were driving through Gettysburg we turned down Reynolds St rather than Reynolds Ave.  Trying to figure out what was going on and getting back on the right track, grabbing myself a handful of Cheez-ums, and trying to pay attention to three others in the car I accidentally ran a stop sign.  Of all the luck in the world, there was a police car waiting at the intersection who clearly saw my inattentative driving.  Of course she pulled me over and issued a citation.  Yep, what would have been a $30 trip to Pennsylvania increased $107.  By the time our visit with Officer Powers ended we were laughing and having a good time.  Glad I could help with public funds in Gettysburg.  Not that I am stingy, I just don’t hope to be making more of those donations in the future.  Good thing I just secured the insurance rate on the car for the next year!
In closing, I will remark there are some Harry Potter photos in the album I just uploaded as well.  They are pictures from our attending the Harry Potter release.  We went with the Nathaniel and Robin Givens and Madison McLean met us there.  It was a good occasion.  I settled down in the biography aisle and read about half of a biography on Richard Nixon.  They finally found me and I was not able to finish before the official release.  Oh well.  Amanda finished the book by Saturday evening and I read it piecemeal until I finished in Wednesday evening.

Old Journals

Time has been flying by lately and I have been thinking or watching for something to write about.  It seems that some of it is so common knowledge, I wouldn’t dare post it here.  I still find so much of the ordinary as little miracles.  It seems so mundane that I would not want to bore the reader (which I have already started).
Then there are the little things that keep happening around us.  Anna Nicole Smith died.  The Colts won the Superbowl.  The Presidential contenders already starting.  Snow in New York.  Storms in Florida.  Sabateurs and terrorists in Baghdad are to be strangled.  Pelosi wants a plane.  Debate over whether the holocaust happened.
In the little world of Paul, everything marches to a different tone.  I suppose I just don’t see the world the same as others.  In fact, I seem to have the complete opposite of ideas about everything.  Since there always seems to be such a stark contrast, I don’t bother writing it.  Perhaps it is the fear of sarcasm.  Probably more of looking the fool.
For a note of news.  I received my journals in the mail this week.  The journals that were taken as evidence in my mother’s murder trial.  They were taken for what reasons I don’t think I will ever really know.  So, it has been since before 25 October 1998 that I last saw these journals.  Opening them, I feel like I am opening an old book from the 60′s.  Indeed, they smell like my Great Grandma Jonas’ journals.  (Which I am half through her last one)
Wow, I caught a glimpse into the mindset of a boy who turned 18 in the first book.  I found a boy who was getting ready for his first big move.  The first move from home.  The first move from family.  I was dying to get out and petrified at the same time.
I read of my wonderful, amazing, loving roommates.  They are still my dearest friends even today.  We communicate less, but I love them dearly.  I see into the mind of a boy who was very innocent and pure.  I feel the emotions of a boy who is disowned by his mother.  Stressed and devastated by the divorce of his parents.  Enthusiastic and zealous in learning a new religion.  Eager and a little too anxious after the girls.  There is the life of a young man whose stupidity is embarrassing.  In the same pages I am astonished by the insights of a boy who I would aspire to be.  Some of the mundane details are frightening that are noticed.  Yet, as dates come and go, I wonder why some of the most important events of life were not recorded.
I honestly see this person as so far away, foreign, and alien.  Yet I feel, somehow, the deepest intimations of the words.  Even the placing and style of the words on the page are familiar.  It scares me.  I laughed, I cried, and my heart swelled.  It was interesting to read the entries of others.  Some personally placed, others who were dictated to for the daily entry.  I read of the littlest events that were huge and read nothing of some of the largest.
Horrifying was to try and decipher what the investigators placed a marker for.  Some of the notes were damning to my father.  Sadly, some very important details and rumors which put him in a very bad light.  Perhaps I forgot them, perhaps I repressed them, perhaps time drifted them with time.  Other notes were of terrible destructiveness to my mother.  I record outlines of conversations with her on the phone which make me shutter in memory.
There were some events which were so extreme I could not seem to comprehend them now.  How after one conversation, I literally wept for hours.  My roommates horrified knew the details of what was taking place.  My heart broke into a million pieces.  My whole life crashed in one night.  It was with detail I emerged from that room to find my roommates sobbing as well.  They did not know what to do.  I sat at the piano and started to play.  James sat by me and told me he loved me.  I started sobbing and went to hide in my bedroom again.  He grabbed me and hugged me in the hall.  There I stood, embraced by James, bawling.  Within seconds I felt another embrace, and another.  Altan, Tom, James all held me tight.  We cried together that night.  They were my dearest friends and my world at that moment.  We all sat down afterwards and read the scriptures.  The Spirit manifest at that point was something I will never forget.  The love that enveloped us.
I describe my love for Kyla, Jennalyn, Amanda, Trisha, and a whole score of girls.  I talk of my heros and greatest examples.  Duncan, Tateoka, Christiansen, and Jentzsch families.  I had my first personal visit with my Grandparents and came to know them.  It was the first time I came to know my Grandma in a new light.  My life was beginning to be flooded with light despite the deep darkness hovering in all the pages.
It was a spiritual experience to read these pages.  They don’t even seem real to me.  Only hours later did my heart swell as wide as eternity in happiness and joy that I was this person.  I inspired myself.  Yet at the same time, realized what I had lost.  I have lost too much of that innocence.  I am now too mental, too cathartic, too doubtful, too old.  It was with a certain horror to witness what life had done to me and some of the decisions I have made.  I must needs repent.
Anyhow, it was a new experience.  In the end, I only scanned the last two books.  I lost interest and my memory became more keen.  It was so much as a story as just rehearsing something I already knew.  It is like learning to crawl again.  You just don’t have much patience for it after a while.
There were 4 journals they returned.  One is missing.  The good news is that it was the last.  I had just started it and was only into it about a month when it was taken.  It was probably 30 pages full at the max.  I am somewhat disappointed as I think those would be some of the most interesting.  What did I realize as things drew closer.  I knew things would break loose.  What was my reaction the night Dad told me he was going to engage Meta?  What was my feelings the night before the farewell?  What about shopping with Meta?  What did October and part of September hold that are now lost?  The Jerome County Sheriff insists they returned all the journals.  What happened to #4?  (There was another journal not placed in the numerical order.  An apocryphal one if you will.  Oh, I am currently on journal #17).
What does the next 10 years hold?  Will I read then of now and think similar things.  How stupid I am, yet how innocent.  How inspired and zealous?  I sure hope not.  Perhaps in 10 years, I can look back and say I was such a pitiful stig.  I complain, think too much, and am pathetic.  I have to change a few things to return to innocence.

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.

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.

27 Aug Talk

Since there are those who wish to know about the talk on Sunday, here you go. This is the outline of quotes I had on Saturday night. I completely reordered and changed emphasis of the talk after Sunday morning prayers. I used the scripture, Jacob 4:6-8, for the scripture and about continuing revelation. The power that comes to us through the word. That power is to be used in the mission of the church, including the three part break down of that mission, and then moved into the role that priesthood has in it. So hand in hand, I only gave 1/3 of what is here in the outline, and it was by no means all at the beginning. Due to time constraints, at about the 20 minute mark I was only getting into the priesthood part, and had to end. So, I really only spoke about faith, power, and the mission of the church, with a few hints at the role of the priesthood, but by no means whatsoever doing it justice. In fact, I don’t feel I even tied in the priesthood because of my trying to insert it and end. Throughout the talk I emphasized parts of Jacob 4:6-8 (which was quite powerful because I had it memorized) and finished with it as well.Perfecting the Saints/Priesthood

D&C 19:31-32 “And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but hou 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.”

D&C 6:9 “Say nothing but repentance unto this generation; keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed.”

D&C 15:6 “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 19:4 “And surely every man (or woman) must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless.”

D&C 29:49 “And, again, I say unto you, that whoso having knowledge, have I not commanded to repent?”

President Ezra Taft Benson, “The grand mission of the church is accomplished by proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead”

Often wondered, can one be done with the exclusion of another? These are all parts of the mission to bring souls to Christ. We cannot achieve the whole, without doing all the parts.

James 2:10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

D&C 50:28 “But no man is possessor of all things except he be purified and cleansed from all sin. And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.”

President Brigham Young: Some of you may ask, is there a single ordinance to be dispensed with? Is there one of the commandments that God has enjoined upon the people, that he will excuse them from obeying? Not one, no matter how trifling or small in our own estimation. No matter if we esteem them non-essential, or least or last of all the commandments of the house of God, we under obligation to observe them.

All parts of the mission of the church are constantly before us.

President Brigham Young: I never passed John Wesley’s church in London without stopping to look at it. Was he a good man? Yes, I suppose him to have been, by all accounts, as good as ever walked on this earth, according to this knowledge. Has he obtained a rest? Yes, and greater than ever entered his mind to expect, and so have thousands of others of the various religious denominations. Why could he not build up the kingdom of God on the earth? He had not the Priesthood; that was all the difficulty he labored under. Had the Priesthood been conferred upon him, he would have built up the kingdom of God in his day as it is now being built up. He would have introduced the ordinances, powers, grades, and quorums of the Priesthood. But, not holding the Priesthood, he could not do it (JD 7:5)

What is the Priesthood? Power of God given to man? What does that mean?

D&C 84:33, 35-39 “For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.”

When we receive this priesthood, we also receive the father’s kingdom, which means we receive his work. If we do not his work, we receive not his kingdom. The work of God is to bring the power of the atonement into the lives of his children.

President Joseph Smith: God imself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself.

President Gordon B. Hinckley: The cause in which we are engaged is not an ordinary cause. It is the cause of Christ. It is the kingdom of God our Eternal Father. It is the building of Zion on the earth. If we are to build that Zion of which the prophets have spoken and of which the Lord has given mighty promise, we must set aside our consuming selfishness. We must rise above our love for comfort and ease, and in the very process of effort and struggle, even in our extremity, we shall become better acquainted with our God.

We need to be humble!

President Ezra Taft Benson: God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.

We need to put first things first!

President Brigham Young: Stop! Wait! When you get up in the morning, before you suffer yourselves to eat one mouthful of food…bow down before the Lord, ask him to forgive your sins, and protect you through the day, to preserve you from temptation and all evil, to guide your steps aright, that you may do something that day that shall be beneficial to the kingdom of God on the earth. Have you time to do this?…this is the counsel I have for the Latter-day Saints today. Stop! Do not be in a hurry…you are in too much of a hurry, you do not go to meeting enough, you do not read the scriptures enough, you do not meditate enough, you are all the time on the wing, and in such a hurry that you do not know what to do first…Let me reduce this to a simple saying, one of the most simple and homely that can be used ‘keep your dish right side up’ so that when the shower of porridge does come you can catch your dish full.”

We need to learn our duty!

President Joseph F. Smith: We expect to see the day, if we live long enough,…when every council of the Priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will understand its duty, will assume its own responsibility,…to the uttermost, according to the intelligence and ability possessed by it. When that day shall come there will not be so much necessity for work that is now being done by the auxiliary organizations, because it will be done by the regular quorums of the Priesthood. The Lord designed and comprehended it from the beginning, and He has made every provision in the Church whereby every need may be met and satisfied through the regular organizations of the Priesthood (CR, Apr 1906, 3).

We need to have the Spirit!

(Feb 1847) President Joseph Smith to President Brigham Young: Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord, and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you how to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other Spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife, and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness, and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the Spirit of the Lord they will go right. Be sure to tell the people to keep the Spirit of the Lord; and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. Tell the people to be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and follow it, and it will lead them just right.

We need to accept our callings!

President Brigham Young: Do you suppose that after a man has refused to fulfill his calling, he can maintain the Spirit of truth and stand? He cannot? They say they believe Joseph Smith was a prophet raised up to establish the work of the last days, and bring forth the Book of Mormon, and thus they deceived.

We need to recognize our Priesthood leaders and have a testimony of them!

President Brigham Young: I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way? Let every man and woman, know by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates or not (JD 9:150).

The Priesthood holds the power of eternity!

President Joseph Fielding Smith: There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith…no man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God (DoS, v1, pg 180).

President Brigham Young: No man or woman in the dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith…every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith Junior as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are (JD 7:289).

President Brigham Young: Madam, I have this day examined the records of baptisms for the remission of sins in the church of Jesus Chrsit of Latter-day Saints, and not being able to find the name of Elizabeth Green recorded therein, I was saved the necessity of erasing your name therefrom. You may therefore consider your sins have not been remitted you and you may consequently enjoy the benefits therefrom.

President Harold B. Lee: Now…remember, that the most important of the Lord’s work that you will ever do will be the work you will do within the walls of your own home. Home teaching, bishopric’s work, and other Church duties are all important, but the most important work is within the walls of your home (Strengthening the Home movie text, pg 7)

President Hugh B. Brown: The very foundation of the kingdom of God, of righteousness, of progress, of development, of eternal life, and eternal increase in the kingdom of God is laid in the divinely ordained home (CR, 2 Oct 1966, pg 103-4).

Our family is formally extended through the duty of the Priesthood, not a calling, of home teaching!

President Harold B. Lee: Maybe the home teacher should be charged more clearly to describe his mission to watch over and to strengthen to see that members do their duty…They think themselves as teachers of the Gospel message only. Maybe we ought to be calling them home guardians or sentinels and to report their stewardship to the fathers of the ward. We must do something to change the emphasis from teaching to guardians, ‘watching over the church kind of concept.’ Until we get that into our minds, we are not going to do the kind of home teaching that is going to get results.

Spencer W. Kimball: Is it any wonder that the organization and work of the Church and its priesthood in this day are patterned after the keys it possesses? We are a missionary Church, participating to the fullest possible extent in the gathering of Israel. We are a Church founded upon families; a Church that takes care of its own, stressing the economic, intellectual, and spiritual development of its families and individual members in preparation for salvation in the kingdom of heaven. And we are a Church that is actively engaged in temple and genealogy work for ourselves and for the infinite numbers of our Father’s children who have the promise, but not as yet the opportunity, for the ordinances of salvation. This is a work that makes even more meaningful the great corresponding missionary work being carried out in the spirit world. (Ensign, Jan 1977, 3)

Traveling to Virginia Day #3

Yep, another day on the travel route ending in Virginia.
This morning we arose at the home of Joseph and Alyson Shepperd, but we were alone.  Now if you want to know kindness, they gave up their bed and slept on cushions on the living room floor for us.  If that is not sacrifice for your brother I do not know what is.  That is true religion! 
When we awoke, they had already left for work.  We were tired enough that we slept in until about 9:30.  We arose and got ready for the day and finally headed out a little after 10:00.
We made our way to Liberty, Missouri which was near.  We paid a visit to the Liberty Jail and went through the visitors center there.  It was a good tour and then we watched the new Joseph Smith movie.  It was very, very good.  I was really moved by it.  What it especially powerful is parts of the film that are depicted, we were actually on site.  It was moving to realize you were
only feet away from where the actual events occurred. 
After Liberty we headed off to the temple site at Independence, Missouri.  I have to admit, I like attending the spot, but I have never cared much for the visitor centers there.  The Community of Christ visitor centers are hollow, and it seems like the LDS one’s cover only superficially, or skirt around what is really there.  While I have great respect for the site, I just feel that nothing
is really worthy of the site that is currently present.  Perhaps someday.  I surely hope so.
We took Noland road out, hopped back on I-70 and headed south to Branson.  We stopped, ate, picked up some fuel, shopped for souvenirs and headed the rest of the way.  For some reason or another I felt really tense and really wanted to get to our destination, especially where it was so close. 
Passing near Collins, Missouri I started watching out for the road to get to my cousin’s home.  I knew it was in Humansville (actually Arnica) and should visit.  Well, I took M, when I should have taken N, and ended up 20 miles off the mark.  For nearly 3 hours we searched before we finally found my families home.  When I did find a signal to call, I phoned Bryan, Amanda’s Dad, to ask for direction.  He told us we were supposed to be going off of N rather than M, so we backtracked and headed off that direction.  But before he could have mentioned AA to me, if he would have, we lost our signal.  So we wandered for a long time before we figured out we also needed AA.  When I finally found what was familiar, then we got lost in the maze of roads on their property!  Ugh.  By the time we were there, the sun was getting closer to setting so now I was antsy to get going so we could get out of the country before having to wander all night.   Nonetheless, Tammy was taking her family to Stockton for fireworks so we were able to follow her out. 
We ended up showing at Branson a several hours late.  Jason and Mara Hughes still had the chili on for us and we enjoyed a meal with them.  We ate and visited until about midnight thirty.  We then headed off to Andy and Becky Hughes house to stay the night.  We stayed up and visited with them until 2:00 AM about everything from birth control the Liken the Scripture movies and people we know in them.  Funny where people you know end up.
Anyhow, it is time to crash for the day.  Tomorrow (now today) is our day of rest.