05 January 2016

The Title of Luke’s Account




The oldest and most complete handwritten version of the Bible is called the Codex Sinaiticus which was written 1600 years ago (400 BCE). The title of Luke's gospel was simply, "Luke" (Κατὰ Λουκᾶν in Koine Greek.) Throughout the years the translation "Luke" became, "The Gospel According to Luke." 

After the restoration of the church, the prophet Joseph Smith felt inspired to edit many scriptural passages in the Bible. One of these edits was the title of the book of Luke which in todays King James Version of the bible reads, “The Gospel According to Luke.” This is changed by the Prophet Joseph Smith to read, “The Testimony of Luke.”



Perhaps the wording, “The Gospel According to... ,” indicated the gospel author's opinion rather than his historical testimony or certainty of the events he recorded? Whatever the case the prophet Joseph Smith thought it was important enough to have it changed. 

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03 January 2016

Kindness

CHILD-LIKE VS CHILDISH
Kindness seems like a very elementary type of a subject to talk about especially to adults. This is a subject we usually take on when we are raising a child and trying to train and teach that child how to be kind and nice to their friends. However a recent set of circumstances in my life has really prompted me to religiously search out this particular characteristic.

I really find it interesting that we can teach our children how to be kind to other children but when we start talking and teaching about kindness to adults it's almost a slap in the face as if we have not quite grasped this basic and preliminary characteristic to adulthood.

But we as adults according to the teachings of Christ need to be more childlike in  our characteristics. According to the book of Matthew and many other biblical scriptures, including the Book of Mormon, we are to seek humility even as a little child is humble. He says, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

THE PREAMBLE
LDS missionaries have a preamble (at least that's what I call it) which is usually memorized from Doctrine and Covenants Section 4 where the Lord teaches the Saints Godly attributes required for missionary work. “Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.” - D&C 4:6

CHARITY
The Apostle Paul in the New Testament gives a fantastic discourse on charity. Within this discourse the he teaches critical things needed to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, Faith, Hope and Charity. But within these 3 Godly characteristics the greatest of these is charity. He says, “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” 1 Corinthians 13:8.  And then he teaches something very interesting about charity. He says, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind…” 1 Corinthians 13:4,

MOCKING
Some of the most unkind things are said when kids or adults are making fun of another person, or as the scriptures call it, “mocking.” Our Book of Mormon scriptures are very clear about this. One of the many great discourses we find in the Book of Mormon is by a man by the name of King Benjamin The account reads, “And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother… Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!” - Alma 5:30-31

ARGUING
King Benjamin continues his address by saying we need to avoid even arguments.“ye will not have a mind to injure one another... neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.” -Mosiah 4:13-14

CONTENTION
What does the Savior teach about contention? He says, “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. - 3 Nephi 11:29-30

AMEN TO THE PRIESTHOOD OF THAT MAN
We also find in the scriptures a powerful lesson to those who have obtained the priesthood.  The Lord's words are clear that, “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness… D&C 121:41-42..... (And when we are not kind or are contentious) behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. -D&C 121:37

THE BUTTON

Jesus taught his disciples that in the last days, "...men's hearts shall fail them..." (D&C 88:91) and "the love of many shall wax cold..." (Matthew 24:12). Today we see this happening both within and without of the LDS church.

I have worked at a dry cleaners for several years. One day as I walked into the doors of my workplace there were several employees at the front desk making a small commotion. It was soon told me that a customer had been upset that we had forgotten to replace a missing button on his shirt. He was so angry over this button that he slammed his hands on the counter and yelled at the employee. The employee was so shocked at his behavior that she didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

It is amazing how such a small thing as a button can cause such unkind and contentious feelings. Elder Neil A. Maxwell once said, "Even something as small as a man's thumb, when held very near the eye, can blind him to the very large sun...Blindness is brought upon the man by himself. When we draw other things too close, placing them first, we obscure our vision of heaven." (The Enoch Letters) This man's button was too close to his eye to see clearly.

We must always strive to remember that we are members of Christ's restored church. We should be striving discipleship in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.  "Follow Me," was Christ's admonition to all. Jesus was the perfect example of kindness. He had never acted or said an unkind word.
THE SITAR
One night while I was carpet cleaning the Missionary Training Center me and a friend were discussing music. He told me of all the instruments that he liked to play and the style of music that he enjoyed listening to. I told him that I was interested in playing the Sitar because it sounded so beautiful to me. The friend then quickly replied, "I don't like the sitar, it just sounds so annoying."
This to me was a very unkind thing to say after I had just told him how I would like to play the instrument because of the beautiful relaxing sound. Do I take offense? Will anger swell up inside of me? How does someone react to such a thoughtless  and perceived contentious statement?

Instead of me acting out in anger to such a statement I simply explained to him WHY I like the sound of the sitar. This actually (without thought on my own) padded the conversation. I then turned the conversation into an interest in him and his music. "What other instruments do you not like the sound of?"

CONCLUSION
The Savior directs the saints to shun contention at all costs saying, "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him." (Matthew 5:25) Perhaps meeting we are engaged in the work of the lord we don't have time to take offense with each and everything that comes in our way. We need to move on with the work and in the process move on with others in the great work of the Lord.

Being kind to others should be at the forefront of discipleship. Let us study it. Let us pray for it. As you do I promise you will begin to feel the love of the Savior. You will feel a greater peace flow into your lives. Your friends will love you more. Family relationships will heal and become strengthened. Your enemies will be no longer and you will find greater peace, greater happiness and joy in this life.
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23 March 2014

The Lord's Name in Vain



"There is no peace in vulgarity."1

MY MOM DOESN’T LIKE IT EITHER
It was a sunny day in the late 1990's. I was probably about seventeen or eighteen years old. I was nervous about going over to Charlie Bennett's house to skateboard on his half pipe. I wasn’t afraid of getting hurt on my skateboard or falling off of his large skateboard ramp but I was more afraid that I wouldn’t be accepted as among those who were labeled as cool.

You see, in my hometown of Manteca, California, Charlie Bennett was not just a regular old Joe. There wasn't a person from both of my hometown high schools that didn't know him. Charlie was the greatest and most well known skateboarder in our area at that time. He would awe passersby's with his talent and gained a lot of attention everywhere he went. You can imagine me wanting to make a great impression on him and his friends. 

It was my turn to go down the ramp. I felt relatively competent enough to try the ramp since I myself was not a bad skater myself. I remember saying a cuss word and to my great surprise Charlie told me to stop. I was a little baffled at his reaction because I thought since he was "cool" and "popular" that he would also have a foul mouth. For some strange reason I remember asking why he wanted me to stop and he replied, “Would your mom like it if she knew you cussed?” I said, “No,” and he replied, “Well my mom doesn’t like it either.” I was really taken back at that and remembering feeling embarrassed. After that I never tried to swear and cuss to fit in ever again. 


A DEEP RESPECT
Years ago, me and my father went to church on a weekday to play basketball which was allowed back then. As we entered the church we saw a big piece of poster paper taped to one of the doors. The poster read, "Want to come learn about God? Come this Wednesday @ 7pm." My dad looked at it for a second and cringed with a face of disgust. Looking up he said, "this is inappropriate," and ripped the poster down and into the garbage. I never forgot that moment and to this day it still remains fresh in my memory.

Though not all would agree with what my father had done, I had learned of his deep respect and love for his Father in Heaven. To my dad, the use of His name is and should be Holy and Sacred and not to be used flippantly or in a way that would be used as common everyday language. 

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that we should limit His name by using it sparingly and with reverence. "Even in some of the sacred hymns that are universally used, the frequent and familiar use of the name of the Lord enters, and spoils their use so far as we are concerned. A few hymns of this nature, with noble, uplifting thoughts, have found their way into the musical exercises of the Latter-day Saints." (JFS Improvement era 1941, No.9)

In the words of the prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, "The taking of the Lord’s name in vain is a most serious matter." https://www.lds.org/youth/article/take-not-the-name-of-god-in-vain?lang=eng

PLEASE!, PLEASE!
Spencer W. Kimball had many health problems as both an Apostle and as a Prophet. President Kimball suffered from boils, open heart surgery and throat cancer.  One day, the prophet Spencer W. Kimball was in the hospital about to receive surgery. When he heard someone take the Lords name in vain. The following story is quoted from, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, “He was wheeled from the operating room to the intensive care room. The attendant who pushed the gurney which carried him stumbled and let out an oath using the name of the Lord. President Kimball, who was barely conscious, said weakly, "Please! Please! That is my Lord whose names you revile." There was a deathly silence; then the young man whispered with a subdued voice, "I am sorry." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 198)

TRUE CHARACTER REVEALED UNDER PRESSURE
It is often difficult to know the true character of a person until that person is under some kind of stress. If you would like to know the true character of a person it would be wise to see him angry, in pain or under some kind of a stressful situation. Non-fiction writer, Robert McKee understood this principle as such, “True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure - the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature.” (Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting)

THE LORD'S PRAYER
The Lords Prayer is crucial to our understanding the relationship a disciple should have between our God and us. When Jesus' disciples asked him how to pray he simply addressed his Father in a sacred and familial way: "Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name..." (Luke 11:2; Matthew 6:9) Why did he choose at this time to use a familial terminology while in prayer? Couldn’t he have simply said, “Our God, which art in Heaven?” Jesus is teaching us something very special to his followers and that is God is literally our Father in Heaven. The most next important thing to consider is the sacredness of His name, “Hallowed be thy name.” The noun Hallow is Old English meaning holy or sacred therefore we know that the name of God is holy and sacred and should be exercised righteously and with prudence. “Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips,” says a modern revelation to the prophet Joseph Smith. (D&C 63:61)

FATHER TO SON RELATIONSHIP
The term, "Father," is a verb and derives from its noun, "Fathering," meaning the involvement of a one on one relationship, father to son in which the father is heavily involved with the rearing of his child. The role of a father is more than a title or term, rather it encompasses the rearing and nurturing of his son or daughter. 

In the King Follet discourse the prophet Joseph Smith stated, “It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all…” 

To truly know the Father is to have a relationship with Him. President Hugh B. Brown once told a fascinating story that may help us understand  the difference between someone who does and does not have a relationship with Deity. He says,

Sometime ago a great actor in the city of New York gave a wonderful performance in a large theatre, at the close of which there were rounds of applause. He was called back again and again. Finally someone called to him, “Would you do for us the Twenty-third Psalm?”

“Why, yes. I know the Twenty-third Psalm.”

He recited it as an actor would, perfectly, with nothing left to be desired as far as a performance was concerned. When he was finished, again there was thunderous applause. Then the actor came to the front of the stage and said: “Ladies and gentlemen, there is an old man sitting here on the front row whom I happen to know. I am going to ask him without any notice if he will come and repeat the Twenty-third Psalm.”

The elderly gentleman, of course, was frightened. Trembling, he came to the stage. Fearfully he looked out over the vast audience. Then, as though he were at home only with one, he closed his eyes against the audience, bowed his head, and talked to God, and said:

“The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want.

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Then changing to address the Savior directly and intimately:

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” [Ps. 23:1–6]

When the old man finished, there was no applause, but there was not a dry eye in that house. The actor came to the front of the stage. He, too, was wiping his eyes. And he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I know the words of the Twenty-third Psalm, but this man knows the Shepherd.” (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1980/10/know-the-shepherd?lang=eng&query=not+applause)

THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD

The priesthood is often spoken of as the power and authority of Jesus Christ delegated to man for the salvation of mankind. It was initially termed, "... the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God. But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood." (D&C 107:3-4)

I often ponder on this scripture and its significance to us as Latter-day Saints. The use of the Lords name is so sacred that priesthood terminology was literally changed to keep His name pure and clean in our hearts and on our lips. The vain repetition of His name is an unholy and impure practice regardless if you are a disciple or not. During Jesus’ ministry he told his disciples not to use vain repetitions, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Matthew 6:7) 

SACRED ORDINANCES
The Sacred ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ all address God as our Father. There is not a single ordinance in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that solely uses the name of God. Is this by chance or coincidence or is there something that we need to learn here?

It is of my personal opinion that the Lord is directing His saints to understand and realize the relationship of a Father and a son. To explain my point let us begin with the very first priesthood blessing one receives after they have been born into this world, that is the naming and blessing of children. If we look at the direction of the First Presidency we understand that the blessing being performed must begin by addressing not God but, "Heavenly Father." (http://www.lds.org/manual/family-guidebook/priesthood-ordinances-and-blessings?lang=eng)

This is also true when we speak about the ordinance of baptism. The direction is that we state the person's full name and say, "Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen" (D&C 20:73). This is also true of the sacrament. The verbiage that has been directed by revelation is as follows: "O, God the Eternal Father." (Moroni 4:3; 5:2, D&C 20:77,79)

This is also true when priesthood brethren are asked to consecrate olive oil for the purpose of healing the sick and afflicted or for the dedication of graves. A Father is what and who God is and if we are to address Him we should muster up within us the deepest respect, love and care for Him. We must become true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and, “hold in the utmost sacredness and reverence all things that are holy. The people of the world have not been trained as we have been in such matters, notwithstanding there are many honest, devout, and refined people in the world. But we have the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the revelations of the Lord, and he has solemnly taught us in our own day our duty in relation to all such things.” ((JFS Improvement era 1941, No.9)

PUNISHMENTS
Those in violation of the third commandment are punished according to the scriptures, "If you keep not my commandments, the love of the Father shall not continue with you...." (D&C 95:12) 

The breaking of this and all other of His holy commandments cuts us off from His love. Just as Adam and Eve were literally cut off from the presence of the Lord after transgressing His commandment so to we in like manner are cut off from His Spirit through our disobedience. 

This of course does not mean that our Heavenly Father does not love us, that would be contradictory to His character, mission and purpose. If Father ceased to love us then He would cease to be God, "... for God is love." (1 John 4:8) Since God does not cease to be God and He loves us with a perfect love then  why cannot we feel His love when we are disobedient to His commandments? 

Our Father in Heaven cannot force us to feel of His unconditional love. We must accept His love through obedience to His laws and ordinances of His gospel. As we accept and become, "partakers of the divine nature," (2 Peter 1:4) we in reality partake of the fruits of the Spirit which the greatest among the fruits is love. We can find this doctrine in both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. Paul's epistle to the Galatians teaches us that, "the fruit of the Spirit is love..." (Galatians 5:22) 

Because we know that our Father in Heaven loves us perfectly, His love is ever present. It is you and I who make the decisions to close the door to His love. Take for example the illustration of the Sun. When the sun is at it's high noon peak, it's brightness and glory is shed forth to all who desire to claim it. Just because someone decides to stay in doors and away from the sun does not alter the fact that the sun is still there shining it's brilliancy to all mankind. 

The scriptures teach us that those who do not keep all of the Lord's commandments are lost and  as Oliver Cowdery once said they are as those, "groping as the blind for the wall." (JSH) In the Doctrine and Covenants we read, "If you keep not my commandments, the love of the Father shall not continue with you, therefore you shall walk in darkness." (D&C 95:12)

THIS IS NOT A SUGGESTION
The Lord's commandment to not take His name in vain is not a suggestion. As the prophet Thomas S. Monson once stated in the October 2011 General Conference  "Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant. They have not changed; they will not change. The Ten Commandments are just that—commandments. They are not suggestions. They are every bit as requisite today as they were when God gave them to the children of Israel."

Most people only memorize the first sentence of this particular commandment, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain..." but one thing is yet lacking from this oft quoted statement and that is..., "...for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (Exodus 20:7)

As Thomas S. Monson has stated previously, the command to not take the Lord's name in vain applies to us today. A modern revelation from the Lord given to the prophet Joseph Smith on August 1, 1831 says, "Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments?"

Doctrine and Covenants 63 gives us a description of what happens to those who use His name in vain and direction on how to use his name:

"... For I, the Lord, am not to be mocked in the last days. Behold, I am from above, and my power lieth beneath. I am over all, and in all, and through all, and search all things, and the day cometh that all things shall be subject unto me. Behold, I am Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ. Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips— For behold, verily I say, that many there be who are under this condemnation, who use the name of the Lord, and use it in vain, having not authority. Wherefore, let the church repent of their sins, and I, the Lord, will own them; otherwise they shall be cut off. - D&C 63:58-63

Here we read the Lord's caution to "Beware." This is a warning that the Lord gives to us. In fact, just three verses prior to this statement the Lord says, "For this is a day of warning..." (vs 58) 

In an 1859 General Conference Apostle Orson Pratt stated that a persons faith in Jesus Christ is in vain who break the Commandments of God and refuse to repent, "Have you taken the name of God in vain? What saith the law of God? " Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. " Are there not many people in this city who have used thatname in vain? Are there not many persons present this morning who have blasphemed His name? If there are, you are the persons I mean: you are the individuals who have need of repentance. You are the persons that must reform from this sin, or else your faith that Jesus is the Christ will do you no good." (The Ancient Gospel -- Adam's Transgression, and Man's Redemption from Its Penalty, etc)

We can know of a surety that those who use His name in vain do not have a current and faithful relationship with Him. It is contrary to the Gospel of God to love Him while at the same time  being guilty of this broken commandment. Brigham Young asked in an 1868 General Conference a rhetorical question asking the saints, "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and take His name in vain, curse and swear? No, never! If the love of God was really in the hearts of all who call themselves Latter-day Saints, there would be no more swearing..."

THE RIGHTEOUS USE OF THE LORDS NAME
The Lords direction on how to use His name is found in the Doctrine and Covenants section 63. Here we find a detailed instruction to keep us safe and guiltless when we use His name. The revelation states to his disciples, "Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit; and in this there is no condemnation, and ye receive the Spirit through prayer; wherefore, without this there remaineth condemnation." - D&C 63:63

The key to using the Lords name then is having the Spirit with you which is obtained through prayer. According to this scripture, without the constraint of the Spirit we should keep His name silent.


HOLY ENVY 
Swedish Theologian Krister Stendahl coining the term, "Holy Envy" meant, "that you should be willing to recognize elements in the other religious tradition or faith that you admire and wish could, in some way, be reflected in your own religious tradition or faith." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krister_Stendahl) 

I must say that I have Holy Envy for devout Jews who honor their God by never pronouncing their name. When they read their scriptures and come across God's name they replace it with another. The reading of God's name in Hebrew is pronounced YOD HEY VOB HEY or YWAH. This word is sacred to the Jews and is never pronounced. Instead they use the name Adoni meaning, "Lord."

The writers of the Qumran Scrolls were extreme in the way they handled the name of their God. If they made a mistake in translation or simply misplaced the name of God in their writings they would never cross it out but put small dots around the word which signified a mistake. Crossing out the name of God was an unholy and impure practice in their writings. 

In the religion of Islam, devout Muslims honor and revere their prophet Muhammad and never speak his name without afterwards saying, "Peace be upon him." This shows respect and reverence to their prophet. When Muslims use his name in literature they afterwards use the shorthand, "PBUH" (Peace be upon him)

Those who want to dishonor the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith do so through the cunning of diminutive grammar such as "Joe Smith." A child who calls their mother or father by their first name shows irreverence and disrespect. Likewise we should not call our Father in Heaven by His name but to use it only when it is requisite to do so. 

THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST
I hope to be understood and not misunderstood. We as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are told when to use the Lords name and when not to use the Lords name. During Jesus' ministry he taught by using God's name often but never was it irrespectful or in vain. We can learn something pertaining to the life and teaching of the Savior about using profanity. Gospel theologian and philosopher Truman Grant Madsen once said, Many have thought of Jesus as one who came into the world as it were in a cosmic diving suit who was not exposed to the buffetings of the real world, who walked through life in a white robe, never was tired, never wearied, never pushed or pulled in different directions. But our scriptures teach us otherwise."

In the Book of Mormon we read that Jesus, "shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people." (Mosiah 3:7)

Within all of these trials and tribulations did the Savior of mankind ever use profanity? Never once! Mormon Prophet David O. McKay once said, “A person's reaction to his appetites and impulses when they are aroused gives the measure of that person's character.”  (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, (2011), 102–11) Under Jesus’ extremity of the lack of food we find his true character. The defining moment of a man’s character is determined upon the extremity that he finds himself in. “It might well be stated as a rule of human nature that when a man reaches his greatest extremity, a moment of extreme danger, pain, emotion, or critical need, a point in life which is marked by imminent destruction or death, the true nature of his soul becomes evident from statements he makes at that crucial time. Why? Because a man’s words mirror his innermost soul. His speech betrays what his character is really like—the quality of his concerns, his compassion, his love—the whole focus or thrust of his life, whether noble or mean, depraved or exalted. At his greatest extremity the very depths of his soul are bared for all to view; the intensity of the moment calls forth comments that mirror his inner self. A glorious example of this rule is the life of Jesus of Nazareth. His last seven recorded utterances permit all the world to see and know the true quality of his character and the divine nature of his soul.” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, (1979), 178–87)

1. M. Russell Ballard (The Peaceable Things of the Kingdom) https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2002/04/the-peaceable-things-of-the-kingdom?lang=eng
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26 June 2013

Mormons and Face Cards

PLAYING CARDS WERE ASSOCIATED WITH EVIL

Playing face cards are not of themselves evil. They are simply thin pieces of plastic coated paper. However, from reading the quotes below we can discover that card playing was historically associated with smokers, idleness, cheaters, fraud, saloons, gossip, drinking, profaning God's name, addictive behaviors and yes, even murder. 

WHAT AMERICAN HISTORY REVEALS

History tells us that card games brought an atmosphere of unholiness. According to the website Legends of America, "The first American gambling casino was opened in New Orleans around 1822 by a man named John Davis. The club, open twenty-four hours a day, provided gourmet food, liquor, roulette wheels, Faro tables, poker, and other games. Davis also made certain that painted ladies were never far away. Dozens of imitators soon followed making the gaming dens the primary attraction of New Orleans. The city's status as an international port and its thriving gambling industry created a new profession, called the card "sharper." Professional gamblers and cheats gathered in a waterfront area known as "the swamp," an area even the police were afraid to frequent, and any gambler lucky enough to win stood a good chance of losing his earnings to thieves outside of the gambling rooms and saloons....The first written reference in the United States came from Jonathan H. Greer in 1834 when he referred to the amusement as the "cheating game.”

WHAT DOES THE WORLD THINK TODAY?

TIME Magazine reported in June of 2011 that Poker was considered one of the Top 10 of "EVIL SPORTS" of all time: "But poker is no innocent bystander. The beloved activity of hucksters puffing smoke in casino backrooms, the sport — it is shown on ESPN, after all — makes a virtue out of duplicity and dissembling, values few would ever celebrate in regular society. And with its addictive online mega-industry, poker now commands an enormous slice of the world’s gambling revenues." (FOUND HERE)

Joseph F. Smith

WHAT DO LDS PROPHETS HAVE TO SAY?

1894 General Conference Joseph F. Smith
"...idle habit of playing cards"
1894 General Conference Joseph F. Smith
"It is no more card-playing than it is checker-playing, if checker-playing is indulged into the wasting of time. Perhaps the one is as pernicious as the other, although I have not noticed in my life the same tendency to evil in playing checkers for amusement as there is in playing cards. As I understand, it takes four or more to make a good party at card playing, and they get to cheating one another and practicing fraud in order to win. You can not do that in checkers. I know a little about checkers myself. I protest against every practice that has no better recommendation for it than the wasting of precious time. I pronounce it wrong. And I say to the Latter-day Saints that idleness is one of those things set down in the revelations of God."

1895 General Conference Joseph F. Smith
"I am not guilty of visiting saloons, or of playing cards, or of gambling, or of other crimes."

1896 General Conference Marriner W. Merrill
"Sometimes we see them going astray and mourn for them, but it is often the parents' fault in failing to instruct them while young. We should try to save our children from the ways of the world. These card parties that are becoming prevalent should not be encouraged. There is something fascinating about them and will result in evil sooner or later. From them gamblers come, as it is there where they first learn to play. Better get up reading classes, they do more good than playing cards and going to dances, especially these masquerades. They have never met my approval and the Lord does not approve of them. Far better that the young stay at home and read than go to such places."

1896 New York Times: 
CARD GAME ENDS IN STABBING.; Serious Termination of a Friendly Poker Contest.

1900 General Conference by Matthais F. Cowley
"They have sought counsel from men who to my personal knowledge have secured their livelihood from the Latter-day Saints and have spent their nights playing cards and talking against the Authorities of this Church. You can seek counsel from that class of men, but if you seek counsel from President Snow or from Apostle Merrill, who presides over the Cache Valley Stake, or from some of the brethren who preside over the Stakes in Idaho -- I say if you seek counsel from these men as to what would be for the best interests of the people in this inter mountain region, oh, you are going to the wrong kind of men!"

1900 Utah Coville Times:
"Quarreled over the rules of the play and one man had his eye gouged out while the other was cut to pieces." 

1903 General Conference by Joseph F. Smith
"How can a man or a woman as a teacher in the Sunday school or as one occupied in any other ecclesiastical duty, who is in the habit of playing cards, say to the children, " You must not do it, because it is a waste of time and it may result in your ruin? " Who can give such advice who is in the habit of doing it himself?"

David O. McKay 1897
1907 General Conference by David O. McKay
"Those boys who sat, one week ago, in the rear room of a saloon, playing cards for hours, drinking whisky or beer, profaning the name of God -- invited into their souls a malady that is more fatal than typhoid fever, or any other disease that can attack the body."

1911 New York Times: 
FIVE ACES LEAD TO MURDER.; Miner Kills Three Companions in Poker Game and Wounds a Fourth.

1911 New York Times: 
POKER BLAMED FOR TWO FAMILY UPSETS; Too Much of It Charged Against Wife in One Suit, Against Husband in Another.

1921 New York Times: 
HIT WITH LEAD PIPE IN CARD GAME, DIES

1929 General Conference by Heber J. Grant
"...we expect them to quit playing cards; and that we expect them to do their duty as saints, and to preach the Gospel by living it."

1939 Gospel Doctrine by Joseph F. Smith
“While a simple game of cards in itself may be harmless, it is a fact that by immoderate repetition it ends in an infatuation for chance schemes, in habits of excess, in waste of precious time, in dulling and stupor of the mind, and in the complete destruction of religious feeling. … There is the grave danger that lurks in persistent card playing, which begets the spirit of gambling, of speculation and that awakens the dangerous desire to get something for nothing... It is not easy to imagine that leading men in the Church would find any pleasure that was either inspiring or helpful at the card table” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, p. 329).

John A. Widtsoe
1943 Evidences and Reconciliations by John A. Widtsoe
“It must be added that relaxation from the regular duties of the day is desirable and necessary for human well-being. Wholesome games of recreation are advocated by all right-minded people. Moreover, the … objections [to card playing] are not directed against the many and various card games on the market not employing the usual ‘playing cards.’ Most of these furnish innocent and wholesome recreation, and many are really instructive. It is true that they may be played to excess, but in fact it seldom happens. This is true even when such cards are used in games imitating those with ‘playing cards.’ It is true that such cards may be used for gambling purposes, but in fact it is almost never done. The pall of evil seems to rest upon the ‘playing cards’ handed down to us from antiquity” (Evidences and Reconciliations, Murray & Gee, 1943, pp. 218–19).

1969 General Conference  by Robert L. Simpson
"Let me tell you about a sister who became literally hypnotized by a deck of playing cards. Eventually, there were not enough hours in the week to fit everything in. Her keen spiritual sensitivity became dulled, and it was easy for the cunning one to help her decide to give up an important Relief Society calling and abandon her wonderful circle of former associates in favor of the nonessential, time-wasting pastime that had captured her fancy."

October 1974 General Conference by Spencer W. Kimball
"We hope faithful Latter-day Saints will not use the playing cards which are used for gambling, either with or without the gambling."

AVOID THE APPEARANCE OF EVIL

"Abstain from all appearance of evil." -1 Thessalonians

In summary, "The best counsel I ever received about staying away from the edge came when, as a young married man, President Harold B. Lee called me to be a member of a bishopric. He said, “From now on, you must not only avoid evil, but also the appearance of evil.” He did not interpret that counsel. That was left to my conscience." - James E. Faust 







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03 June 2013

The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood (Man's Four Oaths)


The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood
The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood is found in Doctrine and Covenants 84 and is one of the greatest blessings for those who enter into its contract with God. Interestingly, I have found very few priesthood holders who actually knew what the oath and covenant is. The picture above shows the covenant that men enter into the second they obtain the priesthood of God. On the left side of the photo we see the 4 oaths man makes to God and on the right side we see the 4 covenants that God makes with us. However, I feel to voice my opinion and thoughts about man's covenants.

FAITHFUL IN RECEIVING THE 2 PRIESTHOODS (D&C 84:33)
Man receives the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood by first being faithful in receiving the 2 priesthoods namely the Aaronic and the Melchizedek priesthoods. However, this is not part of a list that can be checked off as once fulfilled. This is a daily struggle as the forces of good and evil are so subtly and visibly before us. Each day we must decide if we are going to be faithful in receiving the 2 priesthoods. We reject the priesthood each time we do not follow the counsel given in D&C 121:35-45  Doctrine and Covenants 121 is special to priesthood bearers in that it teaches us what to do and what not to do in order to be worthy of the priesthood. I have broken them down into "Thou Shalt Not's" and "Thou Shalts."

THOU SHALT NOTS
We must not have our hearts set upon the things of this world (D&C 121:35)
We must not aspire to the honors of men (D&C 121:35)
We must control and handle the rights to the priesthood by principles of righteousness. (D&C 121:36)
We must never cover our sins, gratify our pride, or vain ambitions (D&C 121:37)
We must never exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon others in any degree of unrighteousness (D&C 121:37)
We must not be hypocrites (D&C 121:42)
We must not be with guile (D&C 121:42) 

THOU SHALT
Thou shalt be persuasive (D&C 121:41)
Thou shalt be long suffering (D&C 121:41)
Thou shalt be gentle (D&C 121:41)
Thou shalt be meek (D&C 121:41)
Thou shalt have love unfeigned (D&C 121:41)
Thou shalt be kind (D&C 121:42)
Thou shalt have pure knowledge (D&C 121:42)
Thou shalt have charity towards all men (D&C 121:45)
Thou shalt let virtue garnish your thoughts unceasingly (D&C 121:45)

    MAGNIFY YOUR CALLINGS D&C 84:33
    We make a covenant with God that we will magnify our callings but what does this mean? Some dictionary descriptions may help us understand this term better. Dictionaries say that to magnify something means, "to cause to be held in greater esteem or respect, to increase in significance."  Wikipedia is helpful in helping us understand this term also, "Magnification is the process of enlarging something only in appearance, not in physical size...Typically magnification is related to scaling up visuals or images to be able to see more detail, increasing resolution, using microscope, printing techniques, or digital processing." 
    What tools can we use to magnify our callings? Scripture Study? Fasting? Prayer? Part of magnifying our calling requires us to know our duty. Carlos E. Asay of the Seventy once said in a conference: One magnifies a calling— By learning one’s duty and executing it fully. (See D&C 107:99–100.) Apostle Gordon B. Hinkley also spoke clearly about this subject at a conference: 

    GIVE DILIGENT HEED TO WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE (D&C 84:43) Where are the words of eternal life? The scriptures teach us that Jesus has the words of eternal life. "Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." John 6:67-68 At another time we read, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ" John 17:3; ( D&C 132:24; ) We know God and Jesus Christ through the study of their words found in the scriptures and modern day prophets and apostles. YOU SHALL LIVE BY EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDETH FORTH FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD (D&C 84:44)
    When Jesus Christ was in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights Satan came tempting him saying, "command this stone to be made bread." (Luke 4:3) However, Jesus rebukes this temptation by replying with scripture, "It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." (Luke 4:4) This does not mean to blindly follow after the prophets. Apostle George A. Smith once received a letter by a concerned non-member when he read an article posted by the improvement era of June 1945. The improvement era stated that, "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done." After hearing this George A. Smith replied to the concerned member by the following: 
    I am pleased to assure you that you are right in your attitude that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts. The Lord Himself does not attempt coercion in His desire and effort to give peace and salvation to His children. He gives the principles of life and true progress, but leaves every person free to choose or to reject His teachings. This plan the Authorities of the Church try to follow. The Prophet Joseph Smith once said: “I want liberty of thinking and believing as I please.” This liberty he and his successors in the leadership of the Church have granted to every other member thereof. On one occasion in answer to the question by a prominent visitor how he governed his people, the Prophet answered: “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.”
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    02 June 2013

    Improvement Era Excommunication Listings

    First Improvement Era March 1942
    with Excommunications Section
    The Improvement Era was the official magazine of the LDS church from 1897 -1970. On March of 1942 the church began to include a section of their magazine describing those who were excommunicated (See Above). 

    The LDS church not only gave their names but also what ward they attended, the date they were excommunicated and what they did. 

    By March of 1947 (5 years later) they decided to discontinue the publication of excommunications for unknown reasons.

    Though these excommunications are indeed justified they are in fact a big change from when the church was first restored. Brigham Young is recorded in the Journal of Discourses as saying, "I have frequently thought, what would be the consequence  in this community, were we to be as strict now, as the authorities of the church once were? For it used to be, if a man did not obey counsel after it was given him, he was cut off from the church." (JD Volume 1 page 78)

    Last Improvement Era with Excommunications
    Section March 1947







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    ABOUT AUTHOR

    BYU Carpet Cleaner

    I carpet clean the Mission Training Center and love the gospel of Jesus Christ. These posts contain my experiences, thoughts and opinions on spiritual things.

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