Monday, November 24, 2008

Woe Unto Them That Call Evil Good and Good Evil

Isaiah 5:20 is a scripture that has significantly stood out in my mind of late.
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
When a "woe" (or a "wo") is pronounced in the scriptures, it is usually a warning. To me, these statements really stand out. A "woe" says to me, "Hey Scott, stop for a second and pay attention. You probably should read this again and maybe a few more times still, because this is really important".

I never thought homosexuality would become so widely accepted and such a divisive issue that this evil would be called good. To me, this is a very clear issue. Homosexual acts are wrong (see Leviticus 18:22) People, and frankly the adversary, disguise this evil as good calling it "love". Even more, those who do good are being called evil. Members of my religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormons, and many other Christian religions doing good and standing up for what is right have had this good reclassified by many as feelings of "hate", "intolerance", "bigotry", and a slew of other names towards those people with the opposite opinion. In general, as Christians, we do not "hate" people, or we are in fact guilty of sin. Rather, we hate the sinful action.

Just because many people commit a sin, even to the point of it gaining popularity, this does not make the sin change to being right or good.

Am I intolerant for my believe that homosexuality is wrong and sinful? By definition, I am. I am absolutely intolerant of this sin. However, this does not mean I hate or even dislike those who act on homosexual desires. I believe they are wrong in their actions, but I do not dislike them and I certainly do not hate them. I believe many people are what some call "born gay", just as every person on this Earth is born with weaknesses. There is nothing wrong with having weaknesses. The sin is acting on the weakness.

A large number of people act on their weaknesses and are open about it, so much so that 48% of voting Californians voted to change the definition of marriage. This still does not make evil good. Sin is and always will be evil, even if many call it by other names. (For a matter of clarity, no one has ever been trying to take away the rights of California citizens. They all have the right to marry one person of the opposite sex. What those opposing Proposition 8 were and are seeking is a special right to change the definition of marriage.)

And thus we see that the end of days is nearing, as wickedness is becoming more predominant in our society.

I know that God lives. I know that all goodness and morality originates from him at the teachings of his holy prophets and apostles. Many of these words are given to us in the holy scriptures. I know that Jesus Christ lived, suffered for our sins so that we can be forgiven and made whole, died, and rose again on the third day that we might also rise again. I know, as I am not perfect, from personal experience in succumbing to my weaknesses that what the great prophet, and he himself once one of the vilest of sinners, Alma taught "wickedness never was happiness" is true. This is my testimony that I share with you from the depths of my heart. In the name of the Redeemer, Prophet, Priest, and King, even Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Amen.

A View of Our Day 1,600 Years Ago

Moroni, the son of Mormon, who the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is named after, had a vision of our world in this present time approximately 1600 years ago. Speaking of when the Book of Mormon should come forth to many on the Earth, he wrote:
It shall come in a day when it shall be said that miracles are done away; and it shall come even as if one should speak from the dead.

And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness.

Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.

Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands;

And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places.

Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.

Mormon 8:26-31
It amazes and touches me reading these words that ancient prophets so clearly saw our day. I know the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is true scripture from God, that it is a companion to the Bible. I know the true church of Jesus Christ has been restored on the Earth in these the latter days and that this church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that my Redeemer lives and that he directs his church through his living prophets and apostles, just as he did in prior ages. This is my testimony that I share with you in the name of the Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Ward Temple Night

Friday I had the opportunity to worship at my local temple, the Atlanta Temple, with my wife and her parents during our ward temple night. It was a visit we had planned more than a week earlier. Which, it turned out based upon the week's earlier events in the west, was an opportune time to attend the House of the Lord.

Once inside the temple, I felt throughout my soul what many call "the spirit of the temple". I think people use this phrase because withtin the temple, I am able to feel the Holy Ghost in strength and consistency as I can feel it no where else.

When in the temple, the best way I can describe the Holy Ghost is by one of its other names in the scriptures--the comforter. I felt this very strongly on Friday. It was exceptionally peaceful and comforting to me. I was filled with the Holy Ghost while I was within the temple walls, further strengthening my testimony that Jesus is the Christ, that he truly did live, suffer and die for my sins, set the ultimate example in all things in life and death, and that he does live again!

Attending the temple with my wife and her parents also further strengthened my bonds with each of them. Worshiping together seems to have that effect.

Once we had concluded our worship and we had exited the temple, I felt a significant difference in outside the temple compared to inside of it. There has always been a different feeling inside and out, but this time was (it is most easy to compare and contrast the immediate differences) and is (it still feels different, based upon my memory of how I felt within the temple) especially different. Over time, the world in general has been moving toward a more wicked state. However, based solely on my feelings, the gap between the House of the Lord and the outside world seems to have grown significantly since the last time I felt that contrast, only a month ago. This feeling was and is very clear to me. Things are rapidly changing in this world.

Fortunately, I know that my Savior lives. I know that he lifts me up, that he supports me when I am weak. I know that truth will prevail and that those who seek the truth will find it. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God, our Heavenly Father, speaks to us through his Holy Spirit. I know that I can, and every single person can, feel the Holy Spirit each and every day. I once had a bishop that counseled us to "have a spiritual experience every day, that if we had not had one all day long, to stay on our knees praying until we had one". I know that by striving to follow this counsel, I have become more receptive the promptings of the Holy Ghost, by which our Father in Heaven leads us. This is my sure testimony that I share with you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, November 03, 2008

How to Vote

I posted this over the summer, when I came across the quote. I believe the words of this quote are true because I believe in modern revelation and I believe in additional witnesses of Jesus Christ. I would also like to share my testimony that this is a nation under God. That God has established this land as a free land, where we have the right to choose good or evil, freedom or bondage. It is my hope on this eve of the election we as a people will choose freedom. This is my testimony and my hope, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

President Harold B. Lee gave this counsel on how to vote:

"I'll tell you how to vote. You read the 134th section of the Doctrine and Covenants and the 29th chapter of Mosiah, and then pray about it and you'll know exactly whom you should vote for at the election. That's how to vote" (Address to Seminary and Institute Personnel, Brigham Young University, July 8, 1966).

To make it easy for you, here are the references President Lee sited:

Doctrine and Covenants 134:

1 We believe that agovernments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men baccountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

2 We believe that no government can exist in apeace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the bfree exercise of cconscience, the right and control of property, and the dprotection of life.

3 We believe that all governments necessarily require acivil bofficers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.

4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of aworship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish bguilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

5 We believe that all men are bound to asustain and uphold the respective bgovernments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and crebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.

6 We believe that every man should be ahonored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the blaws all men show crespect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.

7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all acitizens in the free exercise of their religious bbelief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.

8 We believe that the commission of crime should be apunished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public bpeace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing coffenders against good laws to punishment.

9 We do not believe it just to amingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.

10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, aaccording to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has bauthority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

11 We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all awrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in bdefending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.

12 We believe it just to apreach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bbond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men; such interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in cservitude.

Mosiah 29:

1 Now when Mosiah had done this he sent out throughout all the land, among all the people, desiring to know their will concerning who should be their king.

2 And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: We are desirous that Aaron thy son should be our king and our ruler.

3 Now Aaron had gone up to the land of Nephi, therefore the king could not confer the kingdom upon him; aneither would Aaron take upon him the kingdom; neither were any of the bsons of Mosiah cwilling to take upon them the kingdom.

4 Therefore king Mosiah sent again among the people; yea, even a written word sent he among the people. And these were the words that were written, saying:

5 Behold, O ye my people, or my brethren, for I esteem you as such, I desire that ye should consider the cause which ye are called to aconsider—for ye are desirous to have a king.

6 Now I declare unto you that he to whom the kingdom doth rightly belong has declined, and will not take upon him the kingdom.

7 And now if there should be another appointed in his stead, behold I fear there would rise acontentions among you. And who knoweth but what my son, to whom the kingdom doth belong, should turn to be angry and bdraw away a part of this people after him, which would cause wars and contentions among you, which would be the cause of shedding much blood and perverting the way of the Lord, yea, and destroy the souls of many people.

8 Now I say unto you let us be wise and consider these things, for we have no right to destroy my son, neither should we have any right to destroy another if he should be appointed in his stead.

9 And if my son should turn again to his pride and vain things he would recall the things which he had said, and claim his right to the kingdom, which would cause him and also this people to commit much sin.

10 And now let us be wise and look forward to these things, and do that which will make for the peace of this people.

11 Therefore I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let aus appoint bjudges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God.

12 Now it is better that a man should be ajudged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.

13 Therefore, aif it were possible that you could have bjust men to be your kings, who would establish the claws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father dBenjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.

14 And even I myself have labored with all the power and faculties which I have possessed, to teach you the commandments of God, and to establish peace throughout the land, that there should be no wars nor contentions, no stealing, nor plundering, nor murdering, nor any manner of iniquity;

15 And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I apunished according to the crime which he has committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers.

16 Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a aking or kings to rule over you.

17 For behold, how much ainiquity doth one bwicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!

18 Yea, remember king Noah, his awickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bbondage.

19 And were it not for the interposition of their all-wise Creator, and this because of their sincere repentance, they must unavoidably remain in bondage until now.

20 But behold, he did deliver them because they did ahumble themselves before him; and because they bcried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of cmercy towards them that put their dtrust in him.

21 And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous aking save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood.

22 For behold, he has his afriends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God;

23 And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he acauseth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous bking doth pervert the ways of all righteousness.

24 And now behold I say unto you, it is not expedient that such abominations should come upon you.

25 Therefore, choose you by the avoice of this people, judges, that ye may be bjudged according to the claws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.

26 Now it is not common that the avoice of the people desireth anything bcontrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the cpeople to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.

27 And aif the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

28 And now if ye have judges, and they do not ajudge you according to the law which has been given, ye can cause that they may be judged of a higher judge.

29 If your higher judges do not judge righteous judgments, ye shall cause that a small number of your lower judges should be gathered together, and they shall judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people.

30 And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads.

31 For behold I say unto you, the sins of many people have been acaused by the iniquities of their kings; therefore their iniquities are answered upon the heads of their kings.

32 And now I desire that this ainequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of bliberty, and cevery man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land.

33 And many more things did king Mosiah write unto them, unfolding unto them all the trials and atroubles of a righteous king, yea, all the travails of soul for their people, and also all the murmurings of the people to their king; and he explained it all unto them.

34 And he told them that these things ought not to be; but that the burden should come upon all the people, that every man might abear his part.

35 And he also unfolded unto them all the disadvantages they labored under, by having an unrighteous aking to rule over them;

36 Yea, all ahis iniquities and abominations, and all the wars, and contentions, and bloodshed, and the stealing, and the plundering, and the committing of whoredoms, and all manner of iniquities which cannot be enumerated—telling them that these things ought not to be, that they were expressly repugnant to the commandments of God.

37 And now it came to pass, after king Mosiah had sent these things forth among the people they were aconvinced of the truth of his words.

38 Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal achance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.

39 Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their avoices concerning who should be their bjudges, to judge them according to the claw which had been given them; and they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the dliberty which had been granted unto them.

40 And they did wax strong in love towards Mosiah; yea, they did esteem him more than any other man; for they did not look upon him as a atyrant who was seeking for gain, yea, for that blucre which doth ccorrupt the soul; for he had not exacted riches of them, neither had he delighted in the shedding of blood; but he had established dpeace in the land, and he had granted unto his people that they should be delivered from all manner of bondage; therefore they did esteem him, yea, exceedingly, beyond measure.

41 And it came to pass that they did aappoint bjudges to rule over them, or to judge them according to the law; and this they did throughout all the land.

42 And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first achief judge, he being also the bhigh priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church.

43 And now it came to pass that Alma did awalk in the ways of the Lord, and he did keep his commandments, and he did judge righteous judgments; and there was continual peace through the land.

44 And thus *commenced the areign of the judges throughout all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who were called the Nephites; and Alma was the first and chief judge.

45 And now it came to pass that his father died, being eighty and two years old, having lived to fulfil the commandments of God.

46 And it came to pass that Mosiah adied also, in the thirty and third year of his reign, being bsixty and three years old; making in the whole, five hundred and nine years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem.

47 And thus ended the reign of the kings over the people of Nephi; and thus ended the days of Alma, who was the founder of their church.