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We’ve been having a very good discussion in a recent post with members of various Christian faiths surrounding the concept of revelation and what is considered scripture for both LDS and other Christian faiths.  Part of the discussion surrounded revelation given to both individuals and Church leaders.

This weekend, the LDS General Conference will take place on Saturday and Sunday.  Members of all faiths are welcome to listen to the instruction given by the leaders of the LDS or Mormon faith including the apostles and prophet of the church. 

For those not familiar with where to go to watch conference, I will share a few links.  Additionally, I will share an official history of Mormon General Conference taken from an article written by the LDS Newsroom about 6 months ago.

Resources for General Conference

The following websites are where I typically go to watch conference in order from my favorite to “least” favorite.

1. http://lds.org/general-conference/watch?lang=eng

2. www.ksl.com

3. www.byu.edu

If anyone knows of other resources, feel free to share them. 

Preparing for General Conference

Also, I came across a very good blog written entitled “12 Ways to Prepare for General Conference“.  I thought it was good, so I invite all to read it in preparation for conference.

History of LDS General Conference

This official article was very informative and included some facts I wasn’t aware of about the history of General Conference.

I hope this helps members of all faiths who may be interested in checking out Conference this weekend.

Recently in Elder’s Quorom (Men’s Group) we had a very good discussion based on the current LDS prophet, Thomas Monson’s, recent talks he had given.  The quote that stood out to our instructor today, as well as myself, was

Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.

The discussion then turned to raising our children and focusing more on “problems” rather than loving the child.  As the discussion continued, I thought of an incident I had with my young daughter that morning where she wasn’t listening and she was ignoring me.  My reaction was definitely not Christ-like and I lost my patience with her, unfortunately.  Although I came to her later and apologized, I still felt bad and had been praying about how I can better approach the situation when it arose again.

Another elder in our class talked about a situation where his daughter had totalled his car when she was in high school and lied to him about the circumstances surrounding the accident.  He found out at the scene from the police and fire-fighters that what she had told him was not true and he said he completely lost his temper with her and focused on the “problem” more than on loving the person.

It’s a difficult situation, because as a man, my tendancy is to act like a military officer and order the child to behave “because I said so”.  However, that approach is pretty ineffective, I’ve learned.  Yet, the child still needs to learn respect, etc.

What are some good strategies you as fathers use to discipline your children yet still show them that you love them?

Recently I was preparing for a lesson with my Sunday School class of 16-18 year olds.  We’re studying the New Testament this year.  I found it interesting that in the early Christian church, there was continuous revelation.  The example in this lesson is found in the book of Acts chapter 15.

In this example, Paul and Barnabas come across some church members who are still requiring circumcision as in the Law of Moses.  Paul and Barnabas are not certain if that should be a requirement, so they go to Jerusalem and meet with the apostles for guidance on the matter.  After the apostles discuss the matter, they make a decision through guidance by the Holy Spirit (verses 19-28) and then they write an epistle for Paul and Barnabas to bring back to the church members for sustaining (verses 22-31).  They also send an apostle (Judas) back with them to deliver the message.

This process of revelation to the church is similar for the LDS church of Jesus Christ.  From what I understand, apostles contemplate an issue, pray for guidance by the Spirit, come up with a decision, then present it to the church for sustaining.  On occasion, there will be a letter sent out to congregations from the apostles and read by the local bishop, or the apostles or prophet may read it to the whole body of the church in General Conference (or General Relief Society Conference as President Hinckley did with the Family Proclamation). 

Rarely will revelation actually be canonized.  Over the last 150 years, I can only think of a few revelations that were canonized: Official Declaration 1: that announced the disbanding of polygamy in the 1890s, Doctrine and Covenants section 138 that addresses a vision given to President Joseph F. Smith (Joseph Smith’s nephew) regarding where our spirits go after we die, and Official Declaration 2 that announces that the Priesthood can be given to all worthy males (prior to this revelation black men could not hold the Priesthood). 

I have seen Mormon church antagonists take off-the-wall things that a prophet (usually Brigham Young) said or wrote in a book and highlight that as official church doctrine.  LDS apologists will be quick to answer that in that situation, the prophet wasn’t inspired and spoke without the Spirit on that occasion and since it isn’t canonized it is not official revelation.

However, there are many things that Mormon prophets and apostles have officially stated either through a letter to congregations or announced in General Conference that are not necessarily canonized.  Therefore, I can see how it could be hard for members of other faiths to see a distinction between what is revelation and what is opinion.

Personally, I feel that revelation is official as it is outlined in the New Testament example I shared.  If the apostles have gathered together, prayed, and received guidance from the Spirit on a matter, then announced it to the church officially through writing, it is “official”.  If an LDS leader decides to write a book, or say something off the cuff that’s wacky then that is not official revelation.

What are your thoughts?

Today I became somewhat reminiscant of my thoughts and feelings 10 years ago during the tragic events of 9/11.  At the time, I worked for the grounds crew at BYU and rather than taking the lawn mowers out that morning, we huddled around the radio and heard the tragic news of the airplanes crashing into buildings.

Personally, I felt hollow and empty and amazed.  Later, I felt angry, helpless, and ultimately united.  I felt united with my fellow Americans as we united on many levels.  We united in a mix of emotions, but ultimately, for a few months after the events, we united in a belief in God.  In fact, some studies state that after 9/11 events, 90% of Americans identified belief in God and religion as a good thing.

Today, I personally believe that we have strayed away from this unification as a Nation under God.  In fact, we seem more divided and things seem more chaotic as we struggle with economic and financial stress as a nation and our leaders seem to shy away from openly recognizing God in rhetoric.

It reminds me of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon who were united in Christ for 400 years after Christ’s visit to them but as they became more wealthy and self-sufficient they strayed from God and were ultimately destroyed.  I fear that if we do not remember God as a nation, we will also be destroyed and we may already be decaying slowly with the debt issues, etc. we’re having.

I pray that as we reflect on 9/11 that we also reflect on the feelings of unification we all felt as we were united under God after the events of 9/11.

In Gene R. Cook’s book entitled “Raising a Family to the Lord“, he states the following:

You amy have a child with whom you are struggling.  When appropriate, kneeling in prayer with the child could have a much greater impact than anything you might say in resoning with him or her.  Children need to see prayer in action.  They need to feel it.  Then comes the witness (of the Holy Spirit), which is so important.

I have often said something to missionaries that also applies to parents.  The primary objective of a missionary is to provide a spiritual experience to the investigator.  Similarly, the single greatest thing you can do for your…children…is to give them a spiritual experience.  Help them to experience the Spirit with you, and then teach them how to have the experience alone….it’s worth more than all the instruction you could provide on the subject…(pg. 43-44)

Gene R. Cook was the area Seventy in my mission (for those who are not familiar with the LDS, or Mormon structure, the seventies are similar to the structure found in the book of Acts where the Apostles appoint people (seventies) to oversee geographical areas of the Church).  He shared similar stories with us and taught us how to teach people to experience God on our lives through teaching them to pray by kneeling down with them.  I had many great experiences on my mission by doing this.

Of all the experiences I’ve been able to share with teaching people about prayer, the one I had with my little 2 1/2 year old daughter the other night was one of my favorites.

She was scared and said there were monsters in her room.  She was sobbing uncontrollably and I first tried reasoning with her.  That wasn’t working at all.  Then I remembered Gene R. Cook’s words in his book and also on my mission and I asked her to fold her arms and pray with me.  I told her I would say the words and then she could repeat them.  She said, in her cute little voice “alright”.  We prayed.  It was a simple prayer.  I said things like “please take the monsters away” and “bless I’ll be calm” and after a few moments I felt the Holy Spirit enter into my heart.  As I felt the Spirit, I could notice a change in her physically as well.  She relaxed and sighed relief. 

After the prayer was over, I asked if she felt better.  She nodded and then I told her that she can pray to Heavenly Father anytime she’s scared and He will take away the fear and replace it with good things.  She smiled and said “alright” and then snuggled down and within a few minutes was asleep.

What a miracle!

I’m so grateful for the power of faith and prayer and that God will answer the simplest prayers.  I know that if we strive to incorporate prayer in with leading our families that the Lord will guide us as parents and the Holy Spirit will help us more than we could ever do on our own.

Do you have any experiences with prayer and your children that you feel would be helpful for other readers?

A recent article entitled “GOP Rivals have Different take on Mormonism”  highlights Romney and Huntsman as being polar opposites in how they practice their Mormon faith.  They share how Romney was a local LDS leader and all his sons served missions while Huntsman has shown support of other religions by attending their meetings and encouraging their kids to learn about other faiths as well.  The article goes on to state that Huntsman could be doing damage politically by not fully embracing Mormonism.

One of the main attractions for me to Mormonism is the fact that God loves and supports all people of all faiths.  In the Bible as well as Book of Mormon, it is quoted that God is not a respector of persons, meaning he reaches out to all people.  In the Doctrine and Covenants (another LDS scripture), it goes on further to state there are degrees of glory in Heaven for people of all beliefs (albeit the ones who profess faith in Jesus get a “better” glory).  I can’t imagine a God who would thrust someone to Hell who never did have a chance to hear about Jesus.

If Mormons truly believe that there are many variations of belief that one can have, yet still receive a “glory” or place in Heaven, then they shouldn’t condemn Huntsman.  It appears to me that people within the Mormon community who judge Huntsman for not being “Mormon” enough are judging on the same criteria those outside the Mormon faith are:  they have to have served an LDS mission, pay full tithing, go to church every Sunday, hold a church calling, believe everything in the same way that everyone else in the Mormon faith does and declare “the church is true” with every breath.

Personally, I think it is refreshing that Huntsman is being who he is and being open about his religious beliefs, even if they’re not a cookie-cutter Mormon approach.  It shows that someone can be a Mormon and not have to believe everything the same way as other Mormons.   People both within the Mormon church and without seem to have the same stereotypes of what being a Mormon means and maybe Huntsman will at least show people that not all Mormons are the same and help remove the black and white mentality that many people have.

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