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Lives of great men

Lives of great men

I didn’t mention in my last post, the reference made to a poem as a tribute to President Hinckley.  I believe it was President Monson who quoted it, and in quoting it, he only mentioned a single stanza (noted by the stars below) probably because of time constraints. 

It was a poem I memorized in college as a “guide to life”, and I think it typifies the prophet completely.  It covers his “put on your shoes and go to work” style attitude, his passion for life and service, his tireless drive to be better and do more, and his commitment to the other “Be’s” he’s become so well known for.

Note the stanza’s about a heart that’s stout and brave – was there ever a braver, stouter heart than that of President Gordon B. Hinckley?  And finally (‘cause you can read it yourself and draw your own connections), I’ll comment on the “Be a hero in the strife”.  He had become nothing short of a Hero amongst the saints, what else could have prompted so many Latter Day Saint youth to spontaneously decide, through an explosion of text messages, to pay public tribute to their prophet through their scholl attire the day following his death.  He will be well missed.

A Psalm of Life
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream,
for the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, –act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

*Lives of great men all remind us
*We can make our lives sublime,
*And, departing, leave behind us
*Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Note:  This is just from memory, and so is subject to slight inaccuracies or errors in formatting from the original.

Rusty

What do Mormons believe, part 6

(Disclaimer: These views are all based on my knowledge and interpretation as an active Latter Day Saint, or “Mormon”, only the actual article of faith I list should be considered “official”.  Still, I try to be accurate and do my homework 😉

We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

6th Article of Faith

The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is organized according to revelation, with leaders that are called of God and not of man and who hold the authority of the Holy Priesthood, and is based on the same structure that Christ established himself on the earth. 

Hebrews 5:4 (and numerous references in the Book of Mormon) help us understand that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.   Throughout life we’re constantly bombarded with the challenge of discerning truth and right.  Those of you who are reading this post who are not Mormon face a similar challenge, to determine for yourself if the teachings of Mormonism are true (which you can know through personal revelation – James 1:5, Moroni 10:4). 

But how refreshing it is when we find instances, such as this, where the establishment of His church today is the same as it was in times past.  Seeing the same template of organization is one of the easiest ways to recognize His church.  For “by their fruits, ye shall know them”.  How is that so?  Because the things that they know, do, and believe, shall be recognizable as what He taught and did on the earth.

And aside from the refreshing sameness of church structure, how invigorating it is to know that at the head of His church today, just as in times of old, we are guided by a holy prophet, called of God, who holds all the necessary keys and authority of the priesthood to officiate in the church of God and all the necessary ordinances required for us to reach our exaltation.

The belief in a true and living prophet is very unique to Mormonism.  For we believe that God truly is the same today as he was yesterday, that today, just as yesterday, he works through prophets.  “Surely the Lord God will do nothing save he reveals his secrets to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).  These prophets play a crucial role today, as they did in times past, in teaching and testifying of the Savior and his gospel, and in warning us of those timely issues that we face, that we might, at all times, be prepared.

How wonderful it is that this prophet, the apostles, and other church leaders were called of God, and did not aspire, nor ever seek for their positions, but rather agreed to give up their lives to serve the Lord, when they were asked.  I find great inspiration in the organization of the church, and enjoy the distinctive flavor of divinity in its structure and workings.

Rusty

See also Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

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It is not the critic who counts

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/it-is-not-the-critic-who-counts/

Nathan Sharp, inspiration through art

Last week, when I was creating the post about what President Monson said he wanted for his Birthday (here), I stumbled upon an incredible LDS artist, Nathan Sharp, who has an astounding array of religious (and other) drawings.

I emailed Nathan to ask permission to use his remarkable portrait of President Monson in my post, and we began talking.  I found his words inspiring.  He wrote:

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and ‘art’ is defined in so many different ways by so many different people that sometimes it is difficult to understand.  I am a simple man and I am inspired by the things that surround me.  I find joy and purpose in watching my children imagine and grow.  I find strength in their innocence and unyielding faith.  My heart swells and tears come to my eyes when I hear the Star Spangled Banner and my soul is moved in profound ways by the sacrifices that are made every day, all around us, in our wonderful country.  I’m not looking to make social comments but, rather, to capture the moments that make us who we are.  Each of us is the hero of our own story and that story will take us down a path that is unique from all others.  My artwork comes from my story but I hope that it crosses paths with the experiences of many others as they travel their own road.  If something is stirred in the hearts of others as they see it and if they continue on their way stronger, more inspired, or more grateful than they were before, then I would consider myself successful in my expression of the moment.

As you’ll see by glancing at some of the artwork below, I’m quite sure he succeeded.

You can find out more information about Nathan, as well as peruse and purchase his work on his website:  www.NathanSharpStudios.com.  His prices are very reasonable (for instance, an 8×10 of President Monson is only $15).

Here are some of my personal favorites, others are below…

Cost of freedom

Miss You Daddy

Daddy come home

Dawns early light

Dawn's early light

Please visit Nathan’s site (www.NathanSharpStudios.com) to view more of his work.

Testimony of the First Presidency – Conference Highlights

In the wake of the magnificent 178th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many highlight videos have been posted to YouTube, successfully leveraging this new media to proclaim the gospel, and teach the truth, that a whole new generation, intimately familiar with this style of on-demand communication, might be equal benefactors in such magnificent content.

A few of these I’ll highlight here, as they are strong and compelling predecessors to my weekend post – Are Mormons Christian.

For now, here are sections of the testimony of our living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and his counselors, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and President Henry B. Eyring.  The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons).

 

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_Zpu-VeuCE

President Thomas S. Monson – his personal touch

President Thomas S. Monson, Mormon ProphetLast night, in the General Priesthood Session for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Conference), President Thomas S. Monson gave the concluding address – in my memory, his best.

His talk was powerful, with a strong thread of personality elegantly woven throughout as he communicated those things that he felt mattered most for Mormon Priesthood holders to hear.

President Monson always has had an incredible knack for using stories from his life, and humor to bring life to his sermons – it’s an attribute for which he’s become so loved, and for which I think he’ll be so well known as a Prophet.

In his Priesthood address, he told a story of sitting up on the stand, some time ago, in a Sacrament meeting somewhere.  He said that as he sat there, he noticed a little boy in the audience, who was sitting exactly the way he was sitting.

He said that s he’d cross his legs, the boy would cross his legs too.  When he switched legs, the boy would imitate his very position.

He then said that he tried putting his chin in his hand (which he reenacted tonight) and true to form, the boy did the same.  Then, right before he was about to get up to address the congregation, he said he thought he’d really put the boy to the test.  So he looked the boy squarely in the eyes, so he knew he was focused only on him, and wiggled his ears! (As he said this, he paused, and with amazing dexterity, wiggled his ears).  Of course, we all laughed, and heartily.

Once we’d stopped laughing, he commented “My wife told me not to do that”.  We all laughed again.

He then continued, saying that at this point, the boy looked dumbfounded, turned and got his fathers attention, whispered something in his ear, then pointed to his own ears, and pointed back to President Monson.  He said that when the father looked up at him, he just looked back, completely solemn faced, as if nothing had happened.

Listening, and watching him reenact this in front of the largest Priesthood assembly ever in the history of the world, was simply inspiring.  The message of course was there, which he elaborated on after the story, but it was wonderfully accented by humor and personality.

Every prophet leaves behind their own legacy.  I think the legacy we’ll find from President Monson is that of his profoundly personal touch.  A wonderful trait for a prophet of God.

Rusty

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Sister Hinckley’s Challenge

Sister Marjorie Hinckley described the condition in which she hoped to arrive in heaven, and in so doing, offers us a challenge….

I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with grass stains on my shoes from mowing Sister Schenk’s lawn. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden. I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:27

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

I’m with Sister Hinckley.  Let’s go find some ways to get our hands dirty.

Rusty

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Did Joseph Smith think that he was better than Jesus?

Daniel, in the post “Do Mormons have more than one God“, asked why Joseph Smith said he did a better job than Paul and Jesus for keeping the church together.

Daniel,

Thanks for asking this question.  First and foremost, this was not the belief, or attitude, or teaching of the prophet Joseph Smith.  In fact, Joseph Smith said the following:

“Who, among all the Saints in these last days, can consider himself as good as our Lord?  Who is perfect?  Who is pure?  Who is holy as He was?  Are they to be found?  He never transgressed or broke a commandment or law of heaven – no deceit was in His mouth, neither was guile found in His heart… Where is one like Christ?  He cannot be found on earth.”  (History of the Church, 2:23)

He later said:  “None ever were perfect but Jesus; and why was He perfect?  Because He was the Son of God, and had the fullness of the Spirit, and greater power than any man.” (Ibid 4:358)

So then, what’s all this about?

It’s about a statement that was taken out of context and is commonly proliferated in anti-Mormon literature for the intent to mislead. 

So what did Joseph Smith say?

His quote “I am the only man that has been able to keep the whole church together… Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it.”

Taken as an independent sentence, one would think the Prophet was insinuating that he was better than even Jesus.  But as we see from his quote above (and numerous others, along with his very life and teachings), this was not his belief.

So then what was the real context of the quote?

Joseph Smith was speaking tounge-in-cheek in a discourse and testimony against the dissenters at Nauvoo.  He was speaking against the very people who had beaten, tarred, feathered, spit upon, and would ultimately kill him.

In so doing, he had just read Corinthians, chapter 11, in which the apostle Paul said “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly:  and indeed bear with me.  I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.  That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.  Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also…. Are they ministers of Christ (I speak as a fool) I am more;  in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:  And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.”

Understanding that this was Joseph’s introduction to the congregation puts his comments into perspective.  Like Paul, he was asking the saints to “bear with him” in his “folly”, while he “boasted foolishly” about his “labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent”.  His quoting of this passage was to provide the context that what he was about to say would not be “after the Lord, but as it were foolishly”, to “glory in the flesh”, as Paul had done.  It was to mock the fools with foolishness, while making the point that no matter what they do to him, he would prevail.

So, as you see, Joseph’s attitude was not that he was in any way, shape, or form, better than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is perfect – the only perfect person to ever walk the earth.

But there’s a larger point to this.  And that point, aptly illustrated here, is that the content composed by critics of the church cannot be trusted.  It was built to mislead, that is the sole intent, and so they’ll go to any measure to do so, even when dishonest. 

I’ve seen some of the most ridiculous claims propagated around the internet, and by congregational leaders.  It’s one of the primary aims of this blog, to be one source to which people can turn to get answers to things they hear, such as this, hence the page “Ask a Mormon“.

For truly, Joseph Smith had more respect, understanding, admiration, and deep desire to worship Jesus Christ than I can ever comprehend.  He was a prophet of God, called by the Lord Himself.  As such, his testimony of the Lord was pure and powerful.  You can read more about it at www.josephsmith.com.

Rusty

P.S.  Related posts:  “Is ‘anti’ contrary to Christianity?” discussing the un-Christian nature of critics (or “anti’s”.  Also, “Commercialized Religion” discussing the motivation behind such anti material.

President Eyring, the Lord will sustain you

Elder Henry B. Eyring, 1st Counselor for the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons)

Last night in the Priesthood Session of the Mormon (LDS) Conference, President Henry B. Eyring testified that the Lord will strengthen you and uphold you as you serve Him.  When you do the Lords work you qualify for the Lords blessings, and angels will support you. 

There are countless instances of this in the scriptures (in the Bible and the Book of Mormon).

Nephi said it well, when he said (1 Nephi 1:20):

I Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.

I truly believe that if you give the Lord your heart, mind, and are committed to serve Him, he will prepare the way for you, and provide all means and sustinance.  It just requires faith, and humility.

Rusty

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President Monson’s Birthday Request

Two weeks ago today (Aug 21), Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a prophet, seer, and revelator, celebrated his 81st birthday.

Reflecting a life lived in service, and his genuine love for mankind, when asked by a Church News editor what his ideal birthday gift would be, he gave this answer:

“Do something for someone else… to make his or her life better.  Find someone who is having a hard time, or is ill, or lonely, and do something for them.  That’s all I would ask.”

So, in commemoration of the birthday of a prophet of God, I encourage you to take his counsel to heart – today.  But then let the subtle spirit of his humble request imbue itself upon your soul, that your life may be lived as his, always anxiously engaged in an effort to ease another’s burden, and help them on their way.

“Do something for someone else…”

Rusty

P.S.  Please email this URL to someone else, that his request may be magnified accross the entirety of our own  personal networks.

Also, the image above is courtesy of Nathan Sharp (www.NathanSharpStudios.com).  I’ll have more about him and his work in a separate post shortly.  You can click the image for a larger view.

Mormons speak out for the prophet

There has been an explosion of online activity surrounding President Hinckley that’s worthy of note (if not your time).  Here are a few highlights:

LDS.org:

As you’d expect, the LDS.org newsroom has a new (and entire) page of links to prominent news sources that covered President Hinckley’s death – here.

The Blogosphere:

Also, did you know that according to BlogPulse, “Gordon B. Hinckley” was the third most mentioned person in the blogosphere the day after he died?  Additionally, “President Hinckley” was number 7, and on the “biggest movers” list, various names for the prophet and his wife were ranked 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 14.

Social Networks:

According to Joel Dehlin, Chief Information Officer for the church, at 11:20 this morning there were 170 groups on FaceBook created in memory of President Hinckley, with 29,038 people belonging to the largest group called “In Memory of Gordon B. Hinckley.”  And there are over 90,000 people subscribed to at least one of those groups.  And if you haven’t seen it, there’s also a video up on YouTube where Latter Day Saint youth have shared their feelings for President Hinckley.

New Websites – Unofficial and Official

A new website “The Hinckley Challenge“, has launched in commemoration of the prophet, challenging people to read the Book of Mormon in 97 days (a day for every year of his life).  Additionally, the church has launched http://www.gordonbhinckley.com/, as well as http://www.thomassmonson.com/.  The MoreGood Foundation has created http://www.gordonhinckley.com/ and http://www.thomasmonson.com/.

It looks to me like the LDS community is speaking up.  Good for you!  … er… us. 

Rusty

Changing of the guard – one prophet to another

In Arlington Cemetery, Arlington Virginia, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, one can witness the breathtakingly solemn ceremony of the changing of the guard.

It’s one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen.  Since it was built, the tomb has been guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  The soldiers that guard it have been chosen with excruciating care.  They are the best of the Elite 3rd U.S. Infantry. 

They have been tested and tried; they are the most seasoned sentinels.  They have unwavering discipline, and have volunteered themselves for tireless service.  During their guard, there is no relief.  They weather any storm, regardless of how severe.  Until they are relived, their vigilance is perfect.

Before the time comes for the changing of the guard, his replacement will walk with him for a time in absolute harmony.  They walk in perfect Step, one with another, completely united.  And then, when the time comes for the first to retire, the next is there, completely ready.  The handoff ceremony is precise and pure, having been executed many times before.  And so, the precious post passes from one to the next, in an unbroken chain of protection.

Such is the changing of the guard.

On Sunday, January 27, 2008, our beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley passed away.  The following Saturday, February 2, 2008, I was privileged to be at the Tabernacle, and witness the changing of the guard.

 No, it wasn’t any official ceremony appointing our new prophet, but it was my opportunity to see the mantle of the Lord settling onto our new Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, as he bid farewell to his mighty predecessor with the tender words reflecting their friendship… “Gordon, God be with you till we meet again.”

And so, the changing of the guard is complete, leaving the saints with an unbroken chain of prophetic protection.  Chosen with excruciating care, from our most seasoned sentinels, the best of the elite, our new guard is uniquely positioned to stand in the storms that lie ahead, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

President Thomas S. Monson, our new prophet.  May the Lord bless you in your service, and may our prayers sustain you through your post.

The Tomb At Dusk

[digg=http://www.digg.com/arts_culture/Changing_of_the_guard_one_prophet_to_another] 

Rusty

The living Christ, a living Prophet – Conference Conclusion

 

This video, while intended to introduce conference, provides an equally compelling conclusion to this marvelous event.  A powerful introduction and testimony by Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Living Christ and a living prophet.

 

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pG2TxKrwAY

 

And here it is in text format:

A general conference of the church is a declaration to all the world that Jesus is the Christ.  That He and His Father, the God and Father of us all, appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith, in fulfillment of that ancient promise.  That the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth would again restore His church on earth, and again come in like manner as those Judean saints had seen him ascend into heaven.

This conference, and every other conference like it, is a declaration that he condescended to come to earth, in poverty and humility, to face sorrow and rejection, disappointment and death, in order that we might be saved from those very fates as our eternity unfolds.  That with His stripes we are healed. 

This conference proclaims to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people his messianic promise, that his mercy endureth forever. 

To all of you who think you are lost, or without hope, or who think you have done too much, that was too wrong, for too long.  To every one of you who worry that you’re stranded somewhere on the wintery plains of life and have wrecked your handcart in the process.  This conference calls out Jehovah’s unrelenting refrain “my hand is stretched out still.”

I testify of this reaching, rescuing, merciful Jesus.  That this is His redeeming church, based on His redeeming love.  It is no trivial matter for this church to declare to the world prophecy, seership, and revelation, but we do declare it.  It is true light shining in a dark world.  And it shines from these proceedings. 

And that as those in the Book of Mormon declared, “There came prophets again among the people, who were sent from the Lord to speak it, yeah, there came prophets in the land again”.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Jeffery R. Holland
Quorum of the 12 Apostles

President Hinckley’s funeral – saying goodbye to my prophet

Wow, what an event.  I’m so glad I went.  It was so inspiring.  I’ve wanted to post just a few highlights and my thoughts on them…

First of all, I loved the image of hard work that Sister Pearce, his Daughter, painted about the prophet.  She said that when his wife died, he mourned deeply, then put on his shoes and went to work.  When he was diagnosed with cancer, he mourned the loss of his good health (having been so healthy all of his life), but then he put on his shoes, and went to work.  He was 97, and every morning, he put on his shoes and went to work.  He served the Lord for half of a century, tirelessly “doing his best”.  He served as apostle, seer, and revelator for nearly 50 years.  He bore the burden of the entire church as prophet for 13 years.  Almost one third of all members baptized today were baptized while he was president.  He built 75 new temples, and never tired.  Every day, he just put on his shoes, and went to work.

That was one of the legacies he left behind, that notion of hard work in the face of hardship, despite age and fatigue, he was a strong, non-complaining, hard worker. 

When I was in college I memorized a poem that I feel encapsulates President Hinckley:

Be Strong
by Maltbie Davenport Babcock

Be strong, we are not here to play, to dream, to drift,
we have hard work to do, and loads to lift,
sun not the struggle, face it, ‘tis God’s gift.

Be strong, say not the days are evil, who’s to blame
and fold the hands of acquiesce – o shame!
Stand up, speak out, and boldly in God’s name.

Be strong, it matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,
how hard the battle goes, the day how long,
faint not, fight on, tomorrow comes the song.

Sometimes I reflect on how much more diligent I can be at following in those footsteps.  Often we find ourselves complaining, paralyzed by fear, drugged by nostalgia, hindered by doubt, wallowing in laziness, or focusing on the negative, when what we really need to do, is just put on our shoes, and go to work. 

I loved hearing about the explosion of text messages across latter day saint youth, prompting them to wear their Sunday best to school the next morning, in tribute.  That kind of spontaneous unity across such a wide array of people, and over such a short period of time is inspiring and awesome.

I loved the story of President Hinckley walking into the room full of general authorities dressed in their dark, suits and saying “You all look like a bunch of penguins”, or the myriad other stories about his lightening sense of humor.  I love seeing that humor and sobriety can safely coexist.  That one bearing such burdens can look through it all and smile, and joke, and lighten the burdens of those around him, even though they pale in comparison to those weighing down upon himself.

The quote:  “Here and there, now and then, the Lord makes a giant out of men”.

And finally, after a beautiful, entertaining, and profound tribute to our prophet, the heart-felt feeling of our next prophet, President Monson, calling him by his first name – “Gordon, God be with you till we meet again”.

Rusty