Saturday, August 26, 2017

Increase in Learning

The scriptures teach if we "teach a just man...he will increase in learning." And in another place we learn "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection." Between these two scriptures, we find the injunction to never cease learning.

I do not believe for a second that our God ever wants us to feel comfortable with the knowledge we have. He wants us to continually grow, and push our boundaries to other areas. It takes 10,000 hours to get to the very tip top of a field. It takes 20 hours to learn a skill well enough we can start self correcting. But in this time we call "mortality", it is impossible to learn everything under the sun. We just don't have the time or capacity to do so.

So what is expected of us? That we "increase in learning".

Imagine how our capacity would increase if we read one research article per week. Imagine how much knowledge we would attain if we spent 10 minutes a day reading a book instead of mindlessly tweeting, watching videos on YouTube, or browsing our news feeds. Imagine how much you would learn if you hopped onto Duolingo instead of flipping tabs.

I am not saying we should not take time to relax. Far from it. We do need time to relax; we do need breaks; we do need vacations. The institution of the Sabbath is proof enough for our need in that regard. But we, as a society, tend to be entertaining ourselves to death. With a little more effort, we could each increase in our learning.

Sure, we can fill our minds with celebrities' lives, with pop culture references, and with the latest media sound bites. And nothing is inherently wrong with that. But what could we be spending our time learning if we didn't focus on these people, things, and events, but focused on history, philosophy, and physics or economics, languages, and cultures?

I'm not saying everyone needs to go to college and get a degree, but we all can get an education through books we can get for less than $5 on Amazon, or books at the library (which is free). We can all do a little bit better to learn a little bit more and "increase in learning" spiritually and temporally every single day.

Not only should we be seeking this learning, but we should be seeking it "by study and also by faith". "Yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith" (D&C 88:118). When was the last time you read a book that wasn't required? When was the last time you read the scriptures? When was the last time you read a book other than the scriptures? When was the last time you watched a YouTube video to get knowledge rather than entertainment?

If we are agents and act to gain knowledge, we will learn more than if we wait for others to teach us. We should be ever learning and ever coming to a knowledge of the truth by seeking learning by faith. This is not to say we shouldn't be skeptical while reading a scientific paper. This is not to say we should stop learning if we aren't getting any closer to the truth. We just may need to change our methods or our motivations.

Surely the Lord wants us to know all that He knows. The spirit can teach you things about your field of study that others cannot. When was the last time you asked for the spirit to be with you as you went to school? I'd recommend it; it will increase your knowledge and your faith in God. The presence of the Holy Ghost will allow you to make connections others do not yet see, and will help you develop the capacity to learn, grow, and progress line upon line, and precept on precept until we obtain a perfect knowledge of truth through the Spirit of the Lord.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Now A Glorious Morn is Breaking

We live in a truly marvelous day! A day of joy for both the living and the dead. We live in a day foretold by the prophet Isaiah: "And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain."

We live in a day when Temples dot the earth. We live in a day when Missionaries are 74,000 strong. We live in a day with the scriptures readily available in the common man's tongues from English to German to American Sign Language to Tagalog. We live in a day when "A seer hath the Lord raised up unto his people." We live in a day when "angels are coming to visit the earth". We live in a day of "righteousness [sent] down...of heaven, and...truth [sent] forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of [the] Only Begotten."

Indeed, we live in a day where the covenants of the Lord are being fulfilled. We live in a day where we are making the final preparations for the Savior's Return to the Earth and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This is our day to rise up and meet the challenges of our day. This is the time for us to face the world and all the power of the evil one. This is a time for us to build up Zion regardless of the consequences.

The glorious morn of restoration comes upon us each day. And this day we choose. We can choose to serve the gods of the world around us, or we can choose to serve the God of Israel. We can choose to dwell within the supposed safety of Babylon or the freedom of Zion. We can choose to idly watch on as the war between good and evil rages on, or we can put on the full armor of God and stand and fight.

We are each called to the Work of Salvation for the Living and the Dead. It is a glorious morn, so rise up! We can each do a little bit more and do a little bit better each and every day. Or we can choose to push the snooze button and sleep through this great and marvelous day. I pray we don't, and that we firmly choose to get out of bed and fight for Zion each day.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

All the People Rejoiced

Almost 1000 years ago, William the Conqueror came to the Isle of Great Britain and ultimately established a monarchy of a single family that has endured those many years. Traditions have been born in this royal line in conjunction with its rule, but among the more memorable traditions involved is using music to celebrate the coronation of the new monarch. One of the most well known pieces was sung even before William the Conqueror arrived, but did not receive its "modern tune" until 1685.

The Coronation Anthem is rather short in words:
Zadok the Priest, and Nathan the Prophet anointed Solomon King.
And all the people rejoiced, and said:
God save the King! Long live the King!
May the King live for ever,
Amen, Alleluia.
You're welcome for the cultural/history lesson, but there is a point to all of this. Zadok was the High Priest in Israel, and Nathan was a prophet. To put this into modern terms, Zadok was along the lines of an ordinance worker or the Temple President and Nathan was the Prophet of the Lord. They performed a sacred ordinance in anointing the Israel's King, but not just her King, but the King who would ultimately build up the Temple of God in their midst.

Another song at British coronations over the last century was the song "I Was Glad". The words come from the 122nd Psalm. The first verse cries out, "I was glad when they said unto me : We will go into the house of the Lord." Are we glad every time someone suggests we go to the Temple as an activity?

How do we feel when a Temple is announced? When its ground is broken? When the open house happens? When it is dedicated?

How do we feel when we enter the House of God each time? How do we feel when an ordinance is performed? Do we feel there is a reason to rejoice with every baptism? With every anointing? With every sealing?

I sure hope we feel glad! I hope we rejoice! Like the "vivats" shouted in Britain, and the "Long Live the Kings" shouted in ancient Israel, with the Temple, we have a shout to give. We shout Hosanna to God and the Lamb. These are prayers for the Most High to hear.

I previously discussed the meaning behind the Hosanna Shout. What if that were the cry of what we do every day? I am not suggesting that we literally stand up and do this sacred shout every day, that would be improper. But what if the meaning of this shout became so ingrained in our hearts and in our souls that it affected everything we do?

What if our whole mind was centered on the Work of Salvation? What if we spent our days in the Temples of God? What if we spent our days sharing the gospel with others in word and deed? What if we spent our days searching out our ancestors? What if we spent our days indexing?

In Tucson, we live in a day of Jubilee! The Temple of our Lord is come to our midst. The only remaining question is how long will this feeling of Jubilee exist? We rejoice in the Temple coming here today. How will we feel in 6 months? In a year? In a decade? Will the people still be rejoicing over this Temple, or will it merely become something that happens to be close by? I pray that we do not become complacent, but that the the glory of this day will remain in our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our actions, as we fill the House of God to capacity and continue in this Jubilee forever.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Temple, Part VII: House of God

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

Throughout the Old Testament, the Temple is repeatedly referred to as the House of the Lord. It is a sacred and special place where heaven and earth meet. It is a place where "the Son of man lay his head" (Matthew 8:20). It is a place where the people can "seek thy face, O God of Jacob" (Psalm 24:6). It is a place where "the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people" (Exodus 19:11). The Temple is this sacred place where earth and heaven meet.

As it is a place where heaven is on earth, and God is able to walk in the midst of His people, it is important that everything that passes through the threshold of the Temple is holy. This includes our own thoughts. While we may be going to the Temple because we have a challenge in our lives we are seeking greater understanding in, when we enter the Temple, our minds should be on worshiping our God and redeeming our dead. Our minds should be wholly focused on the things of the Lord.

Because the Temple is God's House, His spirit will reside there. Because the Temple is God's House, it is a place of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, and order because it is His House, inasmuch as it does not become defiled. Because the Temple is God's House, you will be taught. Because the Temple is God's House, we should act as if we are in His presence with deep sincere reverence and gratitude not only for all that He has done for us, not only for the ordinances, not only for the gospel, but gratitude for simply being permitted into His Holy Sanctuary.

For those who did not realize this 7 part series of posts was just one small way I was preparing myself for the coming of a House of God to Tucson, Arizona. I know the Temple can become an anchor for our faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. I learn each time I go, and I have been greatly anticipating this amazing event happening in just 12 days. I know many people have been anticipating this day just as much or more than I have, and my one piece of counsel is this: don't let the flame die out. Be as excited to have a House of God in your midst in one year as you are now, and the power of the Lamb will descend upon you in His Holy House.