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I’m sure most people have heard the news by now about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encouraging it’s nearly 1million members in California to do “all they can do” to support the initiative in November to over-turn the ruling supporting bay marriage. 

If you haven’t heard about this, you can read the following blogs:

California Saints To Get The Call

Envisioning a Politically Thoughtful Church Culture

California Mormons Won’t Be Cool With Acts of Protest At Their Chapels

Mormons in California Called to Defend Marriage by Top LDS Leaders

The letter from the LDS Prophet and his counselors encourages saints to do “all they can do” to support traditional marriages, especially in California during the upcoming vote in November. 

Someone told me of a friend of theirs who lives in California that contacted them and asked if they were supporting the Church’s call to “do all you can do” to support the ban on gay marriages.  When my friend told the person they were not supporting it, the individual got upset and self-righteously said “aren’t you going to support the Prophet?”  This in my mind is going too far and I feel that “doing all you can do” is objective and depends on the individual.  If certain circumstances cause someone to believe in gay marriage, yet they still are believing Latter-day Saints, maybe doing “all they can do” is different than someone on the opposite end of the spectrum. 

In addition, last December Elder Ballard said in an address to BYU students that the LDS Church takes a politically neutral stance.  Yet, of all the issues the LDS Church decided to go back on that statement and get politically involved with the ban on gay marriage.  Personally, I think it is fine if the Church encourages members to take a stand on what the Church feels is a moral issue, including gay marriage.  Whether or not I decided to vote for or against it is a personal choice and if it’s a moral issue I can take it to the Lord in prayer and see what I feel. 

Obviously, the two questions are:

1. What is your take on what it means to “do all you can do” to support the ban on gay marriage?

2. Should the church get politically involved?  If it gets involved with this, do you think the Church should get involved with other issues?  Why or why not?

 

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What would you do if you heard of someone taking their son up into the mountains and tying him to a pile of rocks to sacrifice him to God?  That probably wouldn’t fly over too well, yet Christians, Muslims, and Jews all revere Abraham as a prophet.

What about a man that killed a high-ranking official and then stole valuable records from him and fled into the wilderness, claiming that God told him to do all of these things?  That’s Nephi’s story in the Book of Mormon.

How about a more recent one? A man who claimed authority from God to translate additional scripture, build temples, and practice poligamy.  That’s part of Joseph Smith’s story.

These are a few examples.  Kaimi over at By Common Consent wrote more examples from the Old Testament as well.

So why is it that some people believe in Abraham, but not the New Testament and Jesus, yet others believe in the Bible, but reject the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith?  I believe it comes down to what people want to believe, along with what they are willing to allow the Spirit to teach them.

I believe strongly in the power of the Holy Spirit to tell you the truth of all things.  Although specifically referring to the Apocropha, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 91 gives a good example of using the Spirit to decipher and determine which scriptures to follow.  Below is part of the section:

  4 Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him aunderstand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth;

  5 And whoso is enlightened by the aSpirit shall obtain benefit therefrom;
  6 And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited….
According to this scripture, one can determine which scripture is true and which isn’t.  This is one answer, but it is highly subjective and people can interpret the Spirit in so many different ways.  However, I firmly believe that one can feel the light and truth of things that are true by the power of the Holy Spirit, and I know personally I’ve felt the spirit confirm many truths found in scriptures of all faiths. 
So when I read something in the scriptures such as Abraham sacrificing Isaac or Joseph Smith and others in the Bible practicing polygamy I figure they were individuals and maybe God told them to do it…maybe not.  It’s o.k. if I don’t know or understand everything.  I take the scriptures that I feel the Spirit with and apply them to my life.  Even though I don’t understand everything fully I’m grateful for the scriptures that help me learn and grow.

Recently my wife and I spent some time in the Florida Keys.  It was amazing and nice to get out of the cold Seattle weather.

One evening under a full moon, we decided to walk along the beach and enjoy the amazing smells and sounds of the ocean.  We came upon a pier that went a few hundred yards out into the ocean and decided to venture out there.  Upon arriving, we saw some local fishermen fishing off the dock.  Suddenly one of them shouted “that’s a shark!”  We ran over to the fishermen and sure enough…a little hammer-head looking shark had been reeled in.  We all became instant friends as we talked with the fishermen about amazing stories of crocodiles, sharks, varieties of fish, life on the ocean, and hurricanes.  I was intrigued by their comments…especially about hurricanes.  They told me stories of huge hurricanes where the surge from the ocean was so huge that the island was covered with water and sharks were swimming in the streets. 

Fishermen tend to be good story tellers, so I’m not claiming that everything they said was 100% accurate, but it was fun to listen to non-the-less. 

After their conversation, I thought about the natural disasters we’ve had (flooding, etc.) in our part of the country recently and I thought about the prophet’s admonision to “prepare for a rainy day.”  I wasn’t going to write about this until I read a post on the Millenial Star about the role of prophets.  One of the comments mentioned something about preparing for a rainy day.  I thought I’d share what my wife and I have been doing in order to plan and prepare for a disaster. 

The LDS church is huge on planning and preparing for emergencies, getting finances in order, and many other things necessary for today’s uncertain economy.  This website is great to educate yourself on how to plan and prepare: http://www.providentliving.org/welcome/0,10803,1653-1,00.html

In addition, I’ve found a great website to order food supplies, etc.  We order something each month to add to our food storage.  This website is awesome and has the lowest costs out of any that I’ve seen: www.beprepared.com.  I think it is good to start with basic things like a 72 hour kit (www.code72.net) for each member of the family and then move up to food and water storage, extra clothing, etc.  If you set aside some money each month to spend on this, it could be the best insurance you have.

I know this isn’t the typical post, but I thought I’d share this for those who haven’t started their home storage.  If anyone has any other suggestions or ideas they’ve used in planning, feel free to share!  No one wants to get caught in a crisis with sharks swimming in their front yard!

P.S. I just had a thought that in addition to temporal storage we need to be constantly focusing on spiritual “storage” preparing to be closer to the Lord.  This is a whole post in and of itself so I won’t go into details, but feel free to share your ideas on this…

 

In the movie “End of the Spear,” christian missionaries are led by the Holy Spirit to a indiginous people in South America.  The people have a distorted concept of God and the sanctity of life.  Ultimately many of the missionaries end up sacrificing their lives in order to bring the message to this indiginous people. 

The scriptures also contain many accounts of people sacrificing their time, talents, and in many instances their lives in order to bring salvation to people.  Prophets in the Bible include: Paul, Stephen, Christ’s disciples, Jeremiah, and of course Jesus who was not just a prophet, but the Savior of the world.  Book of Mormon prophets who sacrifice include: Lehi, Alma, Abinadi, and also many more.  Of the Latter-Day Saint prophets, Joseph Smith is definitely the most recognized as sacrificing all he had for the Lord’s kingdom.  When ridiculed he wouldn’t renounce his testimony for he knew he’d seen a vision and God knew he’d seen a vision and he dared not deny it.  He was persecuted and eventually killed as a result.  Millions of other Latter-Day Saints and also Christian members of other faiths around the world today have felt the love of Jesus in their hearts and have sacrificed their time, talents, and even their lives.

What is it that moves us to action?  Why sacrifice so much for people that we don’t know in many instances?  Those of who have been moved by the Holy Spirit…in other words, born again, understand why.  Once we’ve tasted of the love of the Lord and been born again, we are willing to try to do everything we can to help the Lord and do His will. 

My message is for those who have been or want to be born again and want to continue on by building a solid foundation on Jesus that will weather any storm that may come. 

One of my favorite scriptures on building a foundation on the Lord is in Helaman 5:12.  It reads:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

We all have “mighty storms” that beat upon us and all of our experiences are different.  Sickness, depression, fears, trying to make ends meet, the list goes on and on.  The LDS priesthood manual offers 7 suggestions to help us build, strengthen, and maintain our foundation on Jesus.  These include:

1. Seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost

2. Partake of the Sacrament (Communion)

3. Pray and fast

4. Keep the Commandments

5. Study the scriptures

6. Follow the living prophet

7. Love and serve the Lord

Three additional ways that I use to strengthen my relationship with Jesus include:

8. Attend the Lord’s house (the temple)

9. Pay tithing and fast offerings

10. Share my testimony with others

I will be sharing more thoughts on each of these ways that have helped me build and maintain a strong foundation on Jesus in future posts.  I, like many of you, feel I have made a lot of progress and at times feel my foundation is sure and steady.  Many other times I’ve felt the whirlwinds of Satan hit the foundation and I’ve had to start rebuilding again. 

Many times I notice that opportunities to build my foundation are little by little on a daily basis just by doing simple things to help others, telling someone who’s down about God and prayer, praying for others, telling the truth and being honest in dealings with employers and friends, and focusing on being positive about myself and others.  My hope is that my foundation will be strong enough to be a witness for the Lord in every event just as the missionaries in the movie and the prophets mentioned. 

In conclusion, I pose some questions:

1. Has building a foundation on Jesus helped you?  If so, how has it helped you?

2. What do you do or have you done to build and maintain a firm foundation on Jesus? 

3. What does it mean to you to have a foundation built on Jesus?   

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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