Friday, June 26, 2015

Stop Hiding Behind Agency!

Moral agency is one of the great doctrines taught from on high to the Prophet, Joseph Smith out to the rest of the world. It means "men are free according to the flesh... to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil" (2 Nephi 2:27). For the last several years I have found many people hiding behind this doctrine, and subtly mixing it with their own philosophies.

Far too often, other doctrines take a back seat to moral agency (which is always called free agency or just agency by people doing this). For example, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' doctrine on marriage and family goes right back to The Family: A Proclamation to the World stating, "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children...WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society." Yet today, as the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that states cannot decide whether to allow homosexual marriages or not, many church members seem to be chanting how they're so happy about the decision, because ****AGENCY!!!**** 

The gospel is not a buffet from which you can pick and choose which doctrines and principles are ones you should uphold, and which ones are not. Any person who has entered into the waters of baptism, and ESPECIALLY any person who have received the temple ordinances, are under strict covenant to obey God's commandments. Yes, that includes ones that are contrary to your personal, political, or social beliefs AND the ones contrary to society's current trends, dominant political ideologies, and, yes, even codified and court law.

Agency is a wonderful thing! We, however, are not given agency so we can do whatever we want! We are given agency so we can choose to follow Christ. If you do not choose to follow Christ, you follow another being, who's sole purpose is to "drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo"
Helaman 5:12). Agency is not the gospel! The gospel encompasses agency along with hundreds of other doctrines, so stop pretending that you're righteous because you allow agency in your broad philosophy.

I stand with Joshua in saying, "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

I pray that the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the citizens of this once great nation will echo the Israelites in the next verse, "And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;" Yes, including the god of agency.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Goal Setting

Every week on my mission we would set goals and plan the next week, and every day we would set daily goals and plan for the next day, including what we would be studying the next day. Each goal was related to the "Key Indicators for Conversion". As I've gotten into post-mission life, such things have begun to slip away from me, but over the past couple days, I've been studying Preach My Gospel with a focus on how the doctrines and principles taught in there can help with everyday life.

I do not recall if it was one of my mission presidents, or someone else, but during my time serving, someone said that if their employees would apply the principles taught in Preach My Gospel chapter 8 (How Do I Use Time Wisely), their income would be double what they were making. Unfortunately, there are no specific key indicators for the general membership. Fortunately, we can establish them for ourselves.

A few I thought of for myself:

  • Daily Scripture Study
  • Regular Temple Attendance with a Family Name
  • Weekly Family Home Evening
  • Worthily Partaking the Sacrament Weekly
  • Daily Communication with Heavenly Father
That is obviously not a comprehensive list, as our lives don't only focus on the Gospel, but have other aspects related to the Gospel (such as school and careers which enlarge your capacity to serve others). If it is important to set goals, we must come up with our own key indicators to give our goals focus. And I testify if we do not set goals, we will not become who we are meant to become! 

PMG 8 shares this bullet point: "Set goals for". It may not be the most organized thing in the world, but you should have a plan as to what you will study that day (in the scriptures, in your school work, in your professional life, etc). If you do not establish what you will study ahead of time, it will become much easier to shirk off the studying.

If we set goals, we manage our time. If we don't, our time manages us. If we set goals, we can become like our Savior. If we don't, we can become like the devil.

Ezra Taft Benson said, “Every accountable child of God needs to set goals, short- and long-range goals. A man who is pressing forward to accomplish worthy goals can soon put despondency under his feet, and once a goal is accomplished, others can be set up. Some will be continuing goals. Each week when we partake of the sacrament we commit ourselves to the goals of taking upon ourselves the name of Christ, of always remembering him and keeping his commandments. Of Jesus’ preparations for his mission, the scripture states that he ‘increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.’ (Luke 2:52.) This encompasses four main areas for goals: spiritual, mental, physical, and social. ‘Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be?’ asked the Master, and he answered, ‘Verily I say unto you, even as I am.’ (3 Ne. 27:27.) Now, there is a lifetime goal—to walk in his steps, to perfect ourselves in every virtue as he has done, to seek his face, and to work to make our calling and election sure” (“Do Not Despair,” Ensign, Oct. 1986, 5).

We have been asked to set goals to improve and become better men and women for decades! Now is the time to listen to the Prophets' words and set goals to improve ourselves. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Judge Righteous Judgement

I made a post on Facebook in response to a blogpost that has recently been circulating throughout social media of many Mormons called "You're on Satan's Side" (if you want to read it, you go find it; I will not post a link to publicize false doctrine). It received some backlash from some people, and I felt it needed to be shared here. I have only included the post and a comment I made in response to some of the backlash. Remember Doctrine is not found on blogs nor in anything officially published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (in other words: copyrighted IRI). Please allow the spirit to be your guide when you read blog posts, even mine. Seek for the spirit to be with you, and now, my response:

Well, my posting this will probably cause some backlash. I've seen many many people post the article "You're on Satan's Side". They extol it saying that missionary service is not for everyone. Give me a break! What part of "Every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much." do people really not understand? (Thomas S Monson, Oct 2010)

Now, I am not saying that every young man has to serve a mission at age 18, or 19, or before they're 23. But every single one should fulfill the responsibilty given them in the Abrahamic Covenant that "they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;" (Abraham 2:9).

Satan is a real being who seeks to destroy the work of God. He knows he is going to lose; he knows the Kingdom will win. However, if he can stop one person from receiving all that the Father has, he will. He will especially stop those who could be powerful missionaries, so all the Father hath will not be given to them nor the people they could touch. As Elder Jeffrey R Holland once said, "Satan is a real being set on destroying you, and you face his influence at a younger and younger age. So we grab you by the lapels and shout as forcefully as we know how: Hark! the sound of battle sounding loudly and clear; Come join the ranks! Come join the ranks! My young friends, we need tens of thousands of more missionaries in the months and years that lie ahead. They must come from an increased percentage of the Aaronic Priesthood who will be ordained, active, clean, and worthy to serve."

So yes, even if it's not the kindest way of putting it, a worthy, able priesthood holder who willingly chooses not to serve is allowing Satan to gain power.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

[End Status, Begin Response to Comments]

I know the article is about not judging, but they are using the wrong situation. If this article was about someone who had medical issues or it was about anything other than choosing not to go on a mission of their own free will and choice, it'd be fine. If it was about someone who was unworthy to serve, and was trying to clean up his life, it'd be a great message. If it was about someone who medically couldn't serve or had to come home early, it'd be great! But it is about someone who is breaking the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood as furher revealed in 1973.

Secondly, in the days when many of the Apostles and Prophets were of the age to serve a mission, it was NOT a priesthood responsibility. In those days, it was a nice thing to do. But with World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, etc, in order to keep good ties with the government, the church limited the missionaries under the Lord's direction. The decision to serve a mission is made when one accepts the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood by being ordained an Elder. "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. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God." It wasn't until the 1970s that revelation was received that every young man should serve, so kick out any examples who were 19-26 before the 1970s, which would be everyone but David A Bednar and Neil L Andersen, who served in Germany and France respectively.

If this article was about someone who felt judged because members did not like the fact they drank coffee, it would not be going viral like it is now. Members act like we should not make any judgements anymore with certain commandments, but other commandments are fair game. Shouldn't judge a boy for not going on a mission (even though it's a commandment), because it's his choice, but other commandments are fair game.

Finally, Christlike love does not mean you passively allow things to happen, and you ESPECIALLY don't actively celebrate broken covenants. Christlike love is perfectly distinguishing between the sin and the sinner. I did not even mention once the boy the article was mentioning. He might be the coolest guy ever who I'd be willing to hang out with, but that does not change the fact that it is NOW part of the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood to serve an honorable full time mission. So yes, it is between them and God, but they and God already made the promise.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Rise to the Level of your Divinity

A few days before he passed away, Elder L Tom Perry was visited by Elder M Russell Ballard and Elder Dallin H Oaks. Elder Ballard quoted Elder Perry's final wish for church members, “[I wish I] could get every member of the Church to go and partake of the sacrament, and when they took the bread, they’d ask themselves, ‘Who am I? What am I doing? How am I living? Where am I going? What should I be accomplishing?’ as they renew their covenants with the Lord.” He finished, “The minute they’d pick up the bread, something [would] happen.”

I took those questions with me to the altar upon which lie the symbols of the Savior's atoning sacrifice today. I read over them and thought of them as the bread and the water came to me. He was right, something changed inside of me as I pondered those five questions. The spirit whispered revelation to me very personal and very sweet today. 

Each time we brush spiritual shoulders with divinity, small, nearly imperceptible changes come, nudging us in the right direction. It will not be an overnight, miraculous change, but consistently being touched by the Holy Ghost will make each one of us holy men and women. Indeed, like our Father in Heaven, "for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name" (Moses 6:57).

Each time we brush with something or someone holy, we put an oil drop into our lamps. These five questions, if asked each time we study the scriptures, each time we go to the temple, each time we partake of the sacrament, each Priesthood/Relief Society Meeting, or each ordinance witnessed, would change any man or woman's life to become who they are destined to become.

No person who came to this earth is destined to fail. We are all destined for all that the Father has, if we accept it through Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. By continually striving to improve and become more like your Savior and mine, and relying wholly upon His merits, you shall rise to the level of your divinity!