Putting the Lord first

There are these three churches that I drive by every day on the way to the gym that are of various Christian denominations (not LDS).  In front of each are those billboard signs, you know, with the name of the church at the top, and then changeable messages on the bottom.

I always enjoy reading what they have to say, and while sometimes they’re just plain corny, there are other times, like today, when they really hit home.

Today, one sign read:

“Give unto God what is right, not what is left.”

Every day we’re bombarded with so many demands, so many expectations, so many projects, so many desires.  It’s a non-stop stream of “things to do”, each demanding a portion of our day.  The natural result?  At the end of the day, we’ve only given back to the Lord what was left of our time, if any.

But this message encourages us place the Lord first, to prioritize into our lives those things that matter most, including those spiritual refueling elements like scripture study, private prayer, family prayer, and more overt acts, like service, missionary work, fulfilling our callings, etc.

I firmly believe that as we prioritize those things in our lives, all of the other things, become that much easier.  It feels less and less like a scramble, and more and more like a flow.  Our prioritization of spiritual things illustrates the magnitude of our faith, and as we show the Lord our commitment, he, in turn, magnifies our efforts across the broad spectrum of our other activities.

Try, for a week, putting those things at the TOP of your list, and see if you can tell a difference.

Rusty

Mormon.org has been redesigned

In case you didn’t notice, www.Mormon.org recently underwent a redesign.  While the old site was really good, this new one takes a really clean, simple approach.  Things are easy to find, and what’s more, there’s LOTS of videos (really illustrating the church’s savvy recently on leveraging online video – e.g. their YouTube channel reaching the youth).  This really makes learning about the gospel, and what Mormonism is all about, very easy, very comfortable, very non-invasive, and a very rich experience.

For those who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, www.Mormon.org is really focused on the fundamentals of Mormon doctrine.  Basically answering the questions “what is Mormonism all about?”, while www.LDS.org is focused primarily on being a resource for Latter-day Saints (Mormons) for lots more in depth information, manuals, and much, much more.

The new www.Mormon.org website breaks down their content by 5 main categories, each of which are then broken down into further detail.  Each page is very explanatory and almost all of them have rich video content.  If you haven’t yet seen it, click here.

Also, don’t forget to look at the bottom of the site to see the videos on “Mormons Worship Jesus Christ”, “Mormons are Christian”, “Jesus Christ is Real”, “God Speaks Today”, “Gods Words Never Cease”, “Answers to Life’s Great Questions”, and many other videos.

Or click on one of the Main topics below to see the many sub-options and videos under each category.

The Restoration of the truth:

“God is your Father in Heaven. He knows you personally. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and your Savior. His life and teachings are the way to peace and happiness.”

Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness:

“God’s plan of salvation and happiness helps you understand the purpose of life and your relationship with Him. Centered on Jesus Christ, God’s plan teaches where you came from, the purpose of life, and what happens when you die.”

Jesus Christ:  Our Savior

“Our loving Heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to show us how to live meaningful and happy lives and experience eternal joy after this life.”

The Commandments

“Your Heavenly Father loves you and wants to bless you in all aspects of your life. He has given commandments through His prophets to help you live a happy life”

Membership in Christ’s Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized to perfect and bless the lives of God’s children.

 

Rusty

I can finally breathe

As I mentioned when I posted those pictures of me in the hospital (here), last Friday I went in for septoplasty.  I’d broken my nose when I was about 10 years old, and now, 25 years later, I finally went in to get my deviated septum fixed.

In spite of my smiling pictures, the experience was less than enjoyable.  It’s funny how much we take breathing for granted.  Then, to keep your septum straight (after they re-break it), they shove these over-large, two-inch-long plastic doohickeys up your nose and then send you home to “rest”.

At long last, almost 6 days later, I went in yesterday to have these doohickeys removed (doohickey is the medical term for these nasal devices).

Like a good boy, I sat in the chair while the doctor plunged forward with his little doctor-tweezers, suggesting that I “hold still”.  I cannot describe what came next, and I was confused for a fraction of a second that a human could be so cruel, and then I took a breath.

My brain was flooded with more oxygen than I ever remember acquiring.  It was miraculous.  The doctor (having fun now, of course) began laughing at my stunned silence and shocked expression.  I let him laugh, I was too busy breathing.  After 25 years of obstructed airflow, I suddenly felt what it was like to take a full breath of air.  It was almost intoxicating.  It’s something you cannot describe.

After leaving the office, I went to the parking lot and sat in my car.  For 30 minutes.  Just breathing.

And then I was angry at myself for having not done it earlier, realizing I had deprived myself for so many long years of this amount of oxygen.

As I pulled out of the parking lot, I suddenly realized how much this is like the restored gospel of Christ.  Without the fullness of the restored gospel, we’re receiving only partial access to truth, eternal principles, divine guidance, and the blessings associated with each of these.  We go on, assuming this is simply what it’s like, this is all there is, and doing our best to manage with what we’ve got.

But then, when we experience the fullness of the restored gospel, embracing the truths that lie within it, those obstructions are removed, and we witness the full force of the beautiful, rich, and empowering gospel of Christ.  It hits you hard, wakes you up, and suddenly, having the fullness about you, you realize the limitations of what you had before, and perhaps even regret that it took so long.

Those who grow up in the gospel, often take for granted the amount of life-giving “oxygen” they’ve been blessed with.

But whether you come to embrace the fully restored gospel sooner, or later, it only matters that you do it sometime.  It’s just that the sooner you do, the longer you’ll have to enjoy such unobstructed spiritual “breathing”.

How grateful I am for Joseph Smith, who restored the Church of Jesus Christ, and that while I went 25 years with only partial access to oxygen, I was able to experience the fullness of the gospel all the while.

I so strongly hope, that all may “breathe” as I do.

Rusty

What I learned from 9-11

I’ve moved this post to my new Life-Engineering blog, dedicated to motivating people to achieve their goals and change their futures by taking control of their lives.

You can now find this post here:

http://life-engineering.com/what-i-learned-from-9-11

Elect of Elohim

The following poem, by Orson F. Whitney, is a beautiful and clear presentation of the grand council in heaven, and the eventst that took place there.  So great is the importance of this grand council, and the roles we played there, and how wonderful it is, as Latter-day Saints, to be blessed with such a clear understanding of that time long ago.

Elect of Elohim
Orson F Whitney

In solemn counsel sat the Gods
From Kolob’s height supreme
Celestial light blazed forth afar,
Over countless kokobeam.

And faintest tinge the fiery fringe
Of that resplendent day
Lumed the dark abysmal realm
Where earth in chaos lay.

“Father”, the voice like music fell
clear as the murmuring flow
of mountain streamlet trickling down
from heights of virgin snow

“Father”, it said “Since one must die
thy children to redeem
from worlds all formless now and void
where myriad life shall teem

and mighty Michael foremost fall
that mortal man may be
and chosen Savior yet must send
lo, here am I, send Me”.

“I ask, I seek no recompense,
save that which then were mine
Mine be the willing sacrifice
The endless glory thine.”

Still rang that voice, when sudden rose
Aloft a towering form
Proudly erect, as lowering peak
Loomed by the gathering storm

A presence bright and beautiful
With eye of flashing fire
With lips whose haughty curl bespoke
A sense of inward ire.

“Send Me”, it said, it’s courtly smile
And scarce concealed disdain
And none shall hence from heaven to earth
That shall not rise again.

My saving plan exemption scorns,
Mans will, nay, mine alone
As recompense I claim the right
To sit on yonder throne.

Ceased Lucifer, the breathless hush
Resumed and denser grew,
All eyes were turned the general gaze
One common magnet drew

A moment there was solemn pause,
Listened eternity
While rolled from lips omnipotent
The Fathers firm decree.

Jehovah, my messenger son Ahman,
Thee I send
And one shall go thy face before
While twelve thy steps attend

And many more on that far shore
Thy pathway shall restore
That I the first the last may come
And earth My glory share

By arm divine, both mine and thine
The lost shalt thou restore
That man redeemd with God may be
As God forever more

On thee alone mans fate depends
The fate of beings all
Thou shalt not fail though thou art free
Free, but too great to fall.

Return and to the parent fold
This wandering planet bring
And earth shall hail thee conqueror
And heaven proclaim thee king

Twas done, from congregations vast
Tulmoltus murmurs rose
Waves of conflicting sound
As when two meeting seas oppose

Twas finished, but the heavens wept
And still their annals tell
How one was choice of Elohim
Over one who fighting fell.
 

P. S.  This poem can be found in the book “The Holy Temple”, by Boyd K. Packer.

Missionary work on an iPhone!

I’m always looking for ways to leverage new technology to spread the gospel, and the iPhone is creating some unique ways to do just that.

There’s an application you can download on the iTunes App Store called Graffitio.  Much like the name would suggest, Graffitio allows you create “graffiti” on “virtual walls” all around the world.

Here’s how it works. 

When you launch Graffitio on your iPhone, it uses the phones location awareness (GPS) to see exactly where you are, and then shows you all the virtual “walls” in your vicinity.  A wall is simply a location that someone has decided to make a comment about.  Usually these are restaurants, stores, parks, etc.  You can click on one of these “walls” and see what others have said about it.  For instance, if you particularly like a given restaurant, you may decide to add a small note describing your experience.  Then others in the area will be able to see your comments on that particular restaurant.  If a wall doesn’t exist for that restaurant, you simply click a button, the iPhone sees where you are, you create a name for the wall (the name of the restaurant), and add your comments.  Now others in the area will see there’s a social “wall” for that restaurant, and can add their comments to yours.

Now, here’s where the missionary work comes in.

There are countless LDS locations around the world.  Some of them are historical, while others (such as temples) are unique or significant in some other way.

My challenge is for iPhone users around the world to visit these locations, and create “walls” for them.  Then share your testimony, or brief context about that location.  Now others in the area will be able to see your walls, read your testimony or thoughts, and know why that area is significant.

It can be as simple as taking your iPhone to church (I know, don’t say it), and creating a wall for your chapel, listing meeting times, and a personal invitation to come to sacrament meeting.

By doing this, we’ll be exposing important LDS locations around the world, and adding our voice to an all new social medium.

So, go out there, and start writing your own graffiti! 

When you do create a wall, come back here and let us know about it, so that we can all watch this virtual “structure” expand across the globe!

Oh, and make sure to forward this to all iPhone wielding Mormons.

Rusty

 

P.S.  I’ll be going to Temple Square to do my part as well, we’ll see if someone beats me to it, if so, that’s great, I’ll add my comments to yours!

P.P.S.  The image above was a quick mock-up I did, Grafffitio doesn’t yet support images, but I’m sure they will soon.

To launch iTunes and download Graffitio, click here.

New Mormon Meetinghouse locator

URL:  maps.lds.org

In case you haven’t noticed, the church has been rapidly building and deploying all kinds of exciting new technologies.  I intend to cover a few of these over the next little while (as infatuated as I am with technology).  It’s wonderful to see the church leveraging the powerful technology available to us today in order to move the work of the Lord along.

The first that I’ll cover, is a new (and upcoming) way of locating places of worship anywhere in the world.  The site is actually a “mashup” (a site that merges technology/information from disparate locations) and works wonderfully.

This new interface creates a far more visual, interactive way to find meetinghouses.  It lets you toggle between Google maps or Microsoft maps, depending on your preference, and lets you switch between the two at will.  Doing this lets you use the great pan/tilt/zoom features of Microsoft, including their Aerial mode for satellite imagery (birds-eye view doesn’t seem to be available yet), or use Google’s satellite or map view (or merge the two).  Interestingly, the Google Maps view doesn’t currently work in Google’s new Chrome browser, but I’m sure that’ll be fixed soon, but Microsoft maps do work (PP, that’s a paradox).  Still it’s in beta, so some bugs will likely exist.

What’s cool though, is if you know of a chapel that’s not yet shown on the map they even give you an interface to add one.

Searching yields results divided into two categories “closest meetinghouses”, showing the three nearest locations, and “Assigned Congregations” showing a list of locations you can attend living in the selected location, along with language-specific worship services, young single adult wards, and student wards.

It even contains local leader contact information, and will give you directions.

If you haven’t yet seen it, check it out.

Rusty

Video – The standard of truth has been erected

Yesterday I posted a video presentation “The spirit of god”, presenting in fast-form-fashion the story of the prophet Joseph Smith and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

Reflecting on the humble beginnings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) never ceases to amaze me.  Here was this simple boy, claiming a divine visitation and the command to translate an ancient scriptural record.  Who roughly 10 years later in a meager farm-house first organized this new church with just a handful of people.  Faced on all sides with bitter persecution, mobs, and even armies.

Yet in spite of it all, he made the claim:  “The standard of truth has been erected.  No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.  Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame.  But the truth of god will go forth, boldly, nobly and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say “the work is done”.

And here is a video today, dramatically illustrating the literal fulfillment of that very prophecy.  As a stone cut without hands rolls forth throughout the earth.

Note:  For the full resolutioned source video, click here (it’s large).

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kn5zG9xr7IQ&feature=related

 

To learn more about Joseph Smith, see “www.josephsmith.com“, or to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, go to “www.Mormon.org“.

Rusty

What if Mormons are right?

There’s an interesting article that I would recommend:  “What if Mormons are right, and Catholics and Protestants are wrong?”

The full article (and well worth the read) can be found here.

The author asks the important question “Why are the Catholic bishops so concerned about Mormons baptizing dead parishioners?”

His article is referring, in case you weren’t ware, to a recent and ongoing controversy over use of records of the Catholic Church by Mormons in their ongoing genealogical endeavors, to discover and trace back ancestors and create complete genealogical trees, which are also used to perform ordinances for those that have died.

He suggests that the practice of baptism for the dead makes more sense than the practice of baptizing babies, since throughout Christendom it’s agreed that the soul lives on after death and maintains “understanding and consciousness of self”, which is more than can be said of babies, who have no understanding at all.

What’s more, the practice of baptism for the dead, he points out, wasn’t invented by Mormons, but rather was a common practice of early Christians for more than 300 years after the Crucifixion, and was only abandoned after a close-run, highly heated debate, which he describes as an effort to hamper growth of competing sects.

He concludes that if we (Mormons) are wrong, then who cares, what does it matter?  But if we’re right, then there’ll be a lot of people in the hereafter that are awfully grateful the Mormons had the inspired guidance to restore a practice that dates back to Christ’s original church.

His argument is much similar to one in the Bible where the apostles were brought before the court, and the argument was given that they should be allowed to preach, for either they are right, in which case what they teach is good, or they’re wrong, in which case it doesn’t matter.

For those who might be less familiar, baptism for the dead refers to the practice of allowing the saints to be baptized by proxy, for those who have already died.  It’s a doctrine and practice that is sublime, a clear manifestation of God’s mercy, and a key element in his eternal plan of the salvation of man. 

For baptism is a required step unto salvation (“Except a man be born of the water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” John 3:5), but what of those who have died without a knowledge of Christ, or an opportunity to hear and accept his Gospel?

Either they are eternally damned for something over which they had no control, or there must be a way provided for them.

Most Christian religions today subscribe to the former view, believing that they were somehow simply “not selected” for salvation, and as such, are eternally damned. 

But such an argument contradicts the notion of a just, fair, and merciful God.  For if Christ’s mercy is sufficient for all, why not for them?  This is the “sufficiency paradox” which I describe in detail here

But the doctrine and practice of baptism for the dead is a key element in understanding the real meaning of the atonement, and the concept of “sufficiency”.  Indeed, and it is my solemn testimony, that for those that have died before, without an opportunity to hear and accept the gospel, a way has been provided.

Hence, why in the original church of Christ, and why as a part of the restored church of Christ, we have the practice of baptism for the dead (see also 1 Corinthians 15:9).  That those who have passed before, might have the opportunity yet in the life beyond death, and before judgment, to accept the gospel, and have the work of baptism done for them, by proxy.

The doctrine and practice of baptism for the dead is yet another instance of the loss of purity of the gospel of Christ over time, as saving doctrines and practices such as this, have been slowly eroded and even removed.  But this apostasy was not to be forever, for in 1820 the lord appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith in a grand vision that would change the world forever, and would initiate a complete restoration of the fullness of the gospel to the earth today.

To learn more about the prophet Joseph Smith, see www.JosephSmith.com

Realizing the reality of that grand vision is the quintessential question of our time, for as I explain here – if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, then the fullness of the restored Gospel is available today, in a church led by living prophets, with ordinances performed by the power and authority of God, the one and only path to perfection.

My hope is that awareness of the sublime doctrine, along with the ancient and restored practice of baptism for the dead will lead many to discover the many other restored truths that can be found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons).

Rusty