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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Don't Forget About Liahona Children's Foundation

As we go through this festive time of year, we tend to think a little more about those who do not have as much as we do. I would like to remind any readers of this blog of the noble organization Liahona Children's Foundation. I've written much about them in the past (search the blog for it). Liahona is an almost entirely volunteer organization whose sole purpose is to provide nutritional supplements to malnourished LDS children worldwide. I encourage you to make a donation. It costs very little to prevent the loss of life and life-changing permanent disability caused by childhood malnutrition. There are also many opportunities to become more involved.

At a minimum, you can use smile.amazon.com to make your normal amazon.com purchases, which will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to Liahona.

I'd like to make a special plea to those who participate in "tithing groups." It is good to follow the promptings of the Spirit wherever the lead. However, please note that the responsibility to have no poor among us does not include permission to exclude those whose needs fall outside of your small select group. Please consider making donations to the many groups like Liahona that are doing very good things in areas whose needs far far exceed those found in North America.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Why you should want to survive the tribulation to come

It seems there is a sizable number of people who, when taught of the degree of suffering the coming tribulation will bring, say "I would rather die than go through that." The most important factor of survival is attitude. Your mental state can kill you faster than anything else, or can enable you to survive things that others would die just imagining. If you have already decided that life would not be worth living under certain conditions, you definitely will not make it. Here is why you might want to make it after all.

First, most of those with whom I speak have children. While the suffering will be great for the parents, it will be far worse for the children. Children are not able to fend for themselves. They are not able to understand why bad things happen. They are more easily scared than adults and less able to cope with hunger, cold, fatigue, etc. What loving parent would adopt an attitude that assures their children will suffer more than they would otherwise? If you have children, you have no right to throw in the towel before the fight has even begun. Fatalism will paralyze you in fear, robbing you of the precious time God has given you to prepare. Noah and his wife did not throw up their arms in despair upon learning of the coming flood. They got to work for the sake of their children.

Realize that, if they survive, your children will live in Zion for the balance of their lives. The tribulation that is coming is the only conduit from the fallen world in which we live to a higher state of glory, where they will be free from much of the pain and sorrow that you have endured in your life. Most parents would do all in their power to send their kids to a good school--how much more for Zion? Jesus said,  "...for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." (John 7:19) He has provided us the perfect example of becoming better than we currently are in order to bless others.

Second, we ought to keep in mind that Zion is also our destination, if we are faithful. Though the road to survival might include extreme discomfort, starvation, threat of death, disease, and captivity, that is not the end state. It is simply a means to the end, which is Zion. If you survive, and you are worthy, you will encounter the Lord and live in his presence. That is an outcome worth any price for those who have the faith to believe that God is who and how he says he is.

Finally, we need to realize that, in eternal progression, there are no shortcuts. Joseph taught:
7 Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things; it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.
8 It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.
(Lecture Six, Lectures on Faith)
You cannot enjoy the blessings of those who have sacrificed all things without having sacrificed all things yourself. Now, the process of sacrificing all things is and always has been available to the faithful through all time. End-time tribulation is not necessary for one to be asked by God to sacrifice all things. However, most of us are incapable of doing so without the scaffold of the end times. In fact, the reason many of us were born at this age of the earth was to have the blessing of going through end-time tribulation, because we would not accept or endure that degree of tribulation in a normal environment. Others of us have volunteered to be born at this time despite not needing to be that we, like Noah and Moses, might intercede on behalf of those who would not otherwise make it through. In both cases, should we shrug off the tribulation and resign to die as soon as it unwinds, we will be throwing away an opportunity to advance to a higher state of glory. It is of utmost importance to realize that if you are ordained to go through this experience, and you do not, you will not be able to advance until you do, worlds without end. The movie "Edge of Tomorrow" is a wonderful analogy for this idea: you have things to learn and do while you are here, and until you do, you are damned to repeat your suffering without fruits.

32 But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.
33 And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations; yet men will harden their hearts against me, and they will take up the sword, one against another, and they will kill one another.
34 And now, when I the Lord had spoken these words unto my disciples, they were troubled.
35 And I said unto them: Be not troubled, for, when all these things shall come to pass, ye may know that the promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled. (D&C 45:32-35)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New Book and Free Fireside Dec 11th, 5-7:30pm in South Jordan, UT

I will be releasing a new book called, "Teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men: Traditions in Modern Mormonism" shortly. As will all my books, it will be available on Amazon.com at print cost and free to download. This has been a tremendous amount of work, and I have been very anxious to finish and distribute this book. I am sure that anyone who reads the book will learn something new, but the main audience of the book is your friends and relatives who have not had the time or inclination to seriously study the scriptures or church history. This book is a one-stop-shop to help anyone in the church today to draw closer to Christ through the analysis of traditions they espouse that may limit that process. With so many friends and family members losing faith in God due to faith crises spurred by the discovery of unexpected church history or recent church policy, this book is as timely as it could be.

The book is written deliberately in a way that dissects interwoven traditions and logically addresses each component in order with scripture, teachings from the prophet Joseph Smith, and history. You will find the book as a whole, the scriptures it expounds, the teachings it recites, and the history it concisely summarizes to be of great value in your attempts to persuade those around you to focus on the doctrine of Christ and to overcome traditions in their lives that separate them or distract them from the doctrine of Christ.

In order to facilitate the distribution of the greatest number of copies, I will be holding a brief free fireside to entice as many people as possible to come and load up on books (even cheaper than on Amazon due to shipping savings). I hope you can buy a few copies and lend them out to your friends and family.

The location of the venue is:
Daybreak Community Center
4544 Harvest Moon Dr, South Jordan, UT 84095
Room B (Upstairs)
December 11th (Friday)
5pm-7:30pm. Talk at 6.

We can comfortably fit 75 people, but comfort is probably not an option given the subject manner, so bring a friend. The talk will begin at 6pm and go till around 7. I will be there from 5pm on, so come and get some books.

The title for the talk is "Tradition Creation in Modern Mormonism." Some friends are trying to mobilize recording capability so we can distribute the talk. The content is in the book, but not so distilled, so my interest in the recording is mostly as a low-investment option for people to decide on whether or not to get the book, which is quite long.

I apologize to all my friends in Boise, Idaho Falls, and Mesa who requested me to give a talk there as well. I have spent an unfathomable amount of time on this book over the last while, and I cannot justify more time right now away from my family and other demands that I have set aside to write this book.

If, for whatever reason, you cannot attend this meeting, feel free to download a .pdf copy of the book from this blog, or order a copy (or 10) on Amazon.com.

I hope to see you there.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

They Were Eating and Drinking, Marrying and Giving in Marriage

In Matthew 24 we read this cryptic passage:

36But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
42Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
45Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24)

What does it mean to be "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage"? Most Christian commentaries interpret this as gluttonous consumption of vittles and some sort of marital excess. The Book of Moses provides more light.

In the pre-flood days of Noah, Noah's granddaughters were taken as wives by "the sons of men," or men who were not of the covenant received by Noah:

 8 And Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and begat a son,
 9 And he called his name Noah, saying: This son shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed....
 13 And Noah and his sons hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed, and they were called the sons of God.
 14 And when these men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of men saw that those daughters were fair, and they took them wives, even as they chose.
 15 And the Lord said unto Noah: The daughters of thy sons have sold themselves; for behold mine anger is kindled against the sons of men, for they will not hearken to my voice.
 16 And it came to pass that Noah prophesied, and taught the things of God, even as it was in the beginning.
 17 And the Lord said unto Noah: My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for he shall know that all flesh shall die; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years; and if men do not repent, I will send in the floods upon them. (Moses 8)

Noah tried to call these "sons of men" to repentance, but they would not listen. But WHY wouldn't they listen?

 20 And it came to pass that Noah called upon the children of men that they should repent; but they hearkened not unto his words;
 21 And also, after that they had heard him, they came up before him, saying: Behold, we are the sons of God; have we not taken unto ourselves the daughters of men? And are we not eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage? And our wives bear unto us children, and the same are mighty men, which are like unto men of old, men of great renown. And they hearkened not unto the words of Noah. (Moses 8)

The sons of men cited their having taken wives, eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage as evidence that they were not in need of repentance.

Jesus explains that they were taken by surprise when the flood came, because they were "eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage":

38 Now learn a parable of the fig tree—When its branches are yet tender, and it begins to put forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh at hand;
 39 So likewise, mine elect, when they shall see all these things, they shall know that he is near, even at the doors;
 40 But of that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only.
 41 But as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of Man;
 42 For it shall be with them, as it was in the days which were before the flood; for until the day that Noah entered into the ark they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage;
 43 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. (JST Matthew 1)

"Eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" refers to an ordinance of some type practiced in the days of Noah and understood to be of divine origin. I believe it refers to the sacrament (eating and drinking) and plural marriage, but that is merely my belief.

Why does all this matter? Jesus gives us the example of the antediluvian sons of men to warn us of the conditions that will precede his second coming.

Some believe that Jesus' return is a single, point event. This is not the case. Jesus' return is a spectrum of events that begin with the abomination of desolation, continues through all of the destruction events prophesied, and culminates with his return to the Mount of Olives in glory, at which point all those not prepared to dwell in his presence will be destroyed and the millenium ushered in.

In these passages (JST Matthew 1 and Matthew 24), two distinct ideas are discussed: One is what will happen when the Savior returns at the end of the world. The other is what will happen prior to the destruction that precedes the Savior's return.

 44 Then shall be fulfilled that which is written, that in the last days, two shall be in the field, the one shall be taken, and the other left;
 45 Two shall be grinding at the mill, the one shall be taken, and the other left;
 46 And what I say unto one, I say unto all men; watch, therefore, for you know not at what hour your Lord doth come.
 47 But know this, if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to have been broken up, but would have been ready.
 48 Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh.
 49 Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
 50 Blessed is that servant whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing; and verily I say unto you, he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
 51 But if that evil servant shall say in his heart: My lord delayeth his coming,
 52 And shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken,
 53 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
 54 And shall cut him asunder, and shall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
 55 And thus cometh the end of the wicked, according to the prophecy of Moses, saying: They shall be cut off from among the people; but the end of the earth is not yet, but by and by. (JST Matthew 1)

Jesus describes that men will be surprised when the destruction is poured out. They will be in the field, in the mill, etc. when some minority of them will "be taken". Many interpret this as some sort of rapture. That is not the case. Instead, the Holy Ghost will inspire a seemingly random subset of the population to gather to places of refuge:

"The righteous disappear, and no man gives it a thought; the godly are gathered out, but no one perceives that from impending calamity the righteous are withdrawn." (Isaiah 57:1, Gileadi Translation)

Jesus says to "watch," as you would if you knew a thief would be coming to rob you. How do we watch? Jesus has told us exactly what will happen: from false teachings and principles being preached to natural disasters to governmental calamities. Are you familiar enough with them to enumerate them? Are you watching for them? Or, do you write off the scriptural warnings of false teachings as applying to some other people or some other time? Do you write off natural disasters as a result of natural causes only (as if God does not work by natural processes, and as if knowing what would happen thousands of years before hand is not as much of a miracle as causing things to occur without scientific explanation)? Do you write off governmental calamities as being just as bad as they ever were? Or, do you see these things as the signs promised in scripture?

Then we get to verses 49-55. Who is the servant whom the Lord made ruler over his house? What is the giving of meat to his house in due season? What would it look like if the ruler was not giving the house meat in due season? What does it mean for the servant to smite his fellow-servants? What personality traits would a servant need to consider himself above his fellow servants, let alone despise them enough to smite them? What does it mean to drink with the drunken? It means to imbibe with the decaying standards and shifting sensibilities of the world. God will cut this servant asunder (interesting connection to the endowment penalties removed in 1990), and appoint his portion with his fellow hypocrites (those that say one thing and do another). This entire passage (49-55) is connected to the antediluvian sons of men who honestly thought they were doing God's will when the flood came upon them because they used some of the same ordinances as the true sons of God.

The watershed moment is when the wicked are cut off from among the people, according to the prophet of Moses. If you don't know what that refers to, you should learn. Go read 3 Nephi 20 and especially 3 Nephi 21.

Some rulers will not be giving the house meat in due season, and will be beating their fellow servants, and forgetting the God they are meant to serve. Others will be giving the house meat, and will be servants to them, and the Lord will find them doing so when he returns.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Who wrote the anti-polygamy letter?

There is a rumor floating around that the anonymous author of the recently circulated anti-polygamy letter is...none other than Brian Hales...

just kidding. Thought I would have a little fun.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Survival Blog

I have spent a lot of time in the last year acquiring skills and equipment for the intent of surviving what is coming. I know that temporal skills and equipment are not a sufficient condition for survival. It would be an utter waste of time for someone who does not know God to prepare for the temporal destruction that is coming, because they aren't going to make it anyway. However, those who are repenting need to have faith in the descriptions God has provided of what is coming that they may be a blessing to those who they will associate with as the world crumbles who were not warned and did not have the means to prepare.

With that in mind, I have created a separate blog where I catalog my findings and experience for the benefit of others so that they can accrue this knowledge and know what gear is worthwhile without having to spend as much time and money on it as I have.

The blog is http://www.survivingmontana.blogspot.com

At present, I have a lot more material than I have time to write, but I hope to have a little time over the winter to get caught up. We'll see!

-Rob